PENSACOLA, Fla. – Derek Thorn remained perfect so far this weekend at Five Flags Speedway with a dominant victory in the Allen Turner Snowflake 100 pro late model race Saturday night.
Thorn started from the pole and led the entire 100-lap distance, holding off Jake Garcia during multiple late-race restarts to earn his second Snowflake 100 victory. He previously won the Snowflake 100 in 2019.
“My car was phenomenal,” Thorn said after his dominant performance Saturday night. “I’ve said this like seven time I think so far, by Byron and Carol Campbell have put together such an amazing team.”
Thorn grabbed the lead at the start of the race on the half-mile asphalt oval ahead of fellow front row starter Colin Allman. The race stayed green for the opening 42 laps before Dustin Smith crashed on the frontstretch to bring out the first caution flag of the race.
The second caution of the race waved during the ensuing restart as Midwestern racer Casey Johnson slowed to a stop in turn two with a flat tire. The next attempt at the restart went better, with Thorn again holding the lead as Garcia was able to move to the inside of Allman to take the runner-up spot.
Thorn would continue to lead until the caution flag waved with 43 laps left when Preston Peltier and Dylan Fetcho crashed on the fronstretch while racing for position inside the top-10. Thorn again held serve on the restart that followed before the next caution flag waved with 18 laps left when Augie Grill came to a stop in turn two.
Mayhem erupted during the restart. While Thorn led the field into turn one, NASCAR Xfinity Series star Noah Gragson attempted to make a three-wide move under Ryan Luza and Johanna Long Robbins into turn one, only for Gragson to clip Luza.
Gragson, Luza and Robbins all spun as a result of the contact, with the incident collecting several cars. A brief red flag period was needed to clean up the crash scene before racing could resume.
Once the incident was cleaned up the race resumed, only for Trevor Cristiani to spin into the turn four wall to bring the caution flag back out. The next restart went better, with Thorn again holding off Garcia as the field roared into turn one.
Garcia wouldn’t get another shot at Thorn as the California driver led the rest of the way to earn the $10,000 top prize. He’ll go for a weekend sweep Sunday when he starts from the pole during the 300-lap Snowball Derby.
“Every year we come here we try to get a little bit better,” Thorn said. “Mike Keen (crew chief) has been tuning on these things for the last two or three years. We’ve been in contention, they know we’re here. To have fast time in the pro and super late a couple years in a row, to have this car tonight was just absolutely phenomenal.”
Garcia said he felt like he had a shot at Thorn during the first restart after the red flag, but in the end he had to settle for second.
“It was close on a couple of those restarts,” Garcia said. “I kind of felt like maybe on a restart I could have got him on the outside. The one where the caution flag came out about a lap afterwards I felt like was my best shot. I was a little bit ahead of him coming across the line. If it had stayed green, maybe, but he was really fast.”
Allman finished third despite the power steering in his car failing after 13 laps. John DeAngelis finished fourth after racing his way into the field via the last chance race, with John Bolen finishing fifth after starting shotgun on the field.
Derek Thorn, Jake Garcia, Colin Allman, John DeAngelis, John Bolen, Stephen Nasse, Mike Hopkins, Jarrett Butcher, Jett Noland, Michael Hinde, Noah Gragson, Jim Wall, Chase Spradlin, Treyton Lapcevich, Blaine Rocha, Weston Griffith Jr., Cole Williams, Johanna Long Robbins, Derek Griffith, Mason Keller, Austin MacDonald, Trevor Cristiani, William Sawalich, Augie Grill, Justin Bonnett, Dakota Stroup, Dylan Fetcho, Preston Peltier, Hudson Halder, Dustin Smith, Derrick Griffin, Mike Garvey, Casey Johnson, Brandon Oakley, Steve Dorer.