DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — As a driver in his first full season of competition in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, Derek Thorn is seeing many tracks for the first time. But that has not deterred the 26-year-old competitor from Lakeport, Calif.
"Tire management is big. You go to a track that worn out, you’re looking at similar grip numbers – similar to Havasu, but a lot faster."— Derek Thorn
He quickly established himself as a contender, winning the second race of the year. And now, as the series heads into the second half of the season, he is fourth in the championship standings.
Thorn will get his first look at a traditional stop in the Pacific Northwest when the series travels to Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash., for the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by Gene Price Motorsports on Saturday, July 14. It will mark the 52nd visit by the series to the historic fairgrounds track.
“I think it’s like most races we go to; as a driver you have to keep in mind how worn the track surface is,” Thorn said. “Tire management is big. You go to a track that worn out, you’re looking at similar grip numbers – similar to Havasu, but a lot faster.”
Although Evergreen Speedway is new to Thorn, it is familiar territory to his crew chief Bill Sedgwick, who calls the shots on the No. 6 Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil/Eibach Ford team. Sedgwick, who won back-to-back series championships as a driver in 1991 and 1992 and consecutive championships as a crew chief in 2004 and 2005, drove to two wins in 10 starts at Monroe. He had an average finish there of 7.4.
“Bill is a very knowledgeable guy, not only as a crew chief, but as an ex-driver,” Thorn said. “Bill and I have very similar driving styles. So, I think Bill can relate really well to what I’m trying to accomplish behind the wheel. He has the ability to take the experience he’s gained in his years of driving, plus his years as a crew chief, and translate it real well. We’re always speaking the same language. That helps us out as a team tremendously.”
In addition to his win this season, Thorn has five top five and six top 10 finishes in eight starts. Although he is in his first full season of series competition, he was not eligible to participate in the rookie program this year due to the six starts he made in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2008 and the six starts he made in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West last year.