BAKERSFIELD, California — Despite a practice accident that relegated him to start at the rear of the field on Saturday night, Derek Thorn drove the backup #6 Sunrise Ford car to a satisfying third place finish in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, West race at Evergreen Speedway. The effort keeps Thorn in the championship hunt with six races remaining on the 2012 schedule.
Thorn had a left front tire go down in the first practice session on Saturday afternoon crippling the primary car, but quickly recovered to run sixth quickest in the second practice aboard the backup car after the crew hustled to get the car ready. The Bob Bruncati-owned, Bill Sedgewick-led team prepared Thorn well for qualifying on the fast 5/8ths mile speedway and he timed in seventh quick.
Despite qualifying seventh quick, Thorn was ordered to start at the rear of the field for utilizing the backup car under NASCAR rules. Undaunted, Thorn showed his talent and navigated the 23 car field quickly and by lap 23 was up into the tenth position. Lap 62 saw Thorn crack into the top three and was looking to make up some ground on the top-two cars in the field.
The field was brought together by the scheduled halfway break at lap 75. Coming back to green, Thorn battled it out with David Mayhew to keep the third position before being able to set his sights on the top-two. Thorn was challenged briefly by Jonathon Gomez on the lap 142 restart, but was able to safely maintain the third position to the finish in a solid outing by the Sunrise Ford team.
With the third place finish, Thorn finds himself just eight points behind Mayhew for third in the series standings. In nine starts this year, Thorn has one-win, six top-fives, and seven top-tens. The 2012 season is Thorn's first full-time effort in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
"The guys at Sunrise Ford did an awesome job transitioning from our primary to our backup," Thorn said. "They didn't miss a beat, and it showed it on the time sheets. Starting that far back in the field becomes a game of survival, but it didn't take long for me to realize how good of a car we had. It was a lot of fun working into the top-three and I did all I could to get to the front."
Switching gears, Thorn continues his busy summer by looking forward to this Saturday's race at the Rocky Mountain Raceway in Salt Lake City, UT for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour. The 3/8ths mile speedplant is located just 20 miles from the Tooele, UT Miller Motorsports Park road course where Thorn raced earlier this year with the K&N West.
The picturesque and state-of-the-art 3/8ths mile track is where Thorn hopes to improve on his series points lead aboard the Mike Keen-prepared, Byron Campbell-owned #43 Four Star Fruit Ford. Thorn set fast-time in his first start at the venue last year before ultimately finishing third in the race.
Thorn's 2012 campaign in the SRL has been nothing short of spectacular, including fast-times at both Madera Speedway races as well as at the Las Vegas Bullring in May. Thorn won the event at Vegas to give him two wins along with a win at Stockton 99 Speedway in June.
Most recently, the SRL raced at Madera Speedway where Thorn broke the track record in qualifying and raced his way to the front after a nine car invert. Thorn led until the final lap of the race before being marred in traffic and settling for second. RMR will look to serve as a comeback race for Thorn as he hopes to get back to victory lane in the Four Star Fruit / Hronis Racing #43.
"We've had a great year so far with Byron Campbell Motorsports in the SRL Southwest Tour," Thorn said. "We have high expectations for ourselves and are really looking forward to Saturday's race at Rocky Mountain Raceway. Mike Keen and the crew have continued to make our equipment even stronger and I'm really looking forward to being behind the wheel!"
Thorn’s SRL performances not only continues to impress race fans nationwide but has also propelled Thorn to a large lead in the national points for the Sunoco Driven Challenge. The Sunoco Driven Challenge ranks drivers from Late Model tours across the country with the season long champion earning a test in a NASCAR K&N Pro Series, East car with Joe Gibbs Racing this winter.