IRWINDALE, Calif. – For the sixth-straight time in SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour competition, Derek Thorn parked in victory lane Saturday at Irwindale Speedway.
Thorn started third and quickly moved into second on the opening lap behind polesitter Jacob Gomes. Thorn got to Gomes’ inside on lap two to begin challenging for the lead, clearing him one lap later to take the lead.
Unlike many of his past conquests, Thorn had his work cut out for him at the half-mile asphalt oval. First he had to hold off John Moore, who ran him down in the first 25 laps of the race before the caution flag waved for a stopped car with 68 laps left.
When the race resumed Dylan Cappello was able to slip past Moore for second, but the racing was stopped one lap later when Trevor Huddleston spun and crashed in turn one after contact with Moore.
Only a few more laps were completed when the caution flag waved for the third time, this time for Dean Thompson crashing in turn two with 61 laps complete. Thorn would continue to lead when the race resumed as Cappello faded to roughly one second back before the next caution waved for an incident with 45 laps left after Dan Holtz crashed in turn three.
After a brief red flag to clean up Holtz’s incident, the race resumed and Thorn suddenly found himself in a hornets nest as Cappello and Cale Kanke took him three-wide for the lead. Thorn was able to fend off that challenge and pull clear again after one lap.
Thorn continued to lead the way until 20 laps left, when Cappello closed back in on him and began challenging for the lead. Cappello made multiple attempts to pass Thorn on the inside, with Cappello nearly completing the pass with 16 laps left before Thorn fought back.
The two made contact as they battled out of turn four and both drivers slid up the track, with Thorn narrowly hanging on to both his car and the advantage. It happened again two laps later, with both drivers sliding up the track in turn four after contact while fighting for the lead.
Somehow Thorn continued to hang on, even when the two made contact for a third time when side-by-side in turns three and four with eight laps left. With six laps left disaster almost struck for the leaders as Andy Allen spun in front of them in turn four. Both drivers managed to duck low and avoid Allen as the caution waved.
During the restart Thorn and Cappello leaned on each other again, with Cappello getting the worst of it. That handed the runner-up spot to Kanke, who briefly challenged Thorn for the lead before Thorn pulled clear.
Thorn held on to earn the $10,000 victory to add to his SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour championship lead, with Blaine Rocha coming from sixth during the final restart to finish second in a multi-car battle.
“That got a little hectic there, didn’t it?” Thorn said after climbing from his race car. “That has to be short-track racing. I feel like that’s what we come here for. No one wrecked nobody, we’re all in one piece. I hope you guys got a good show.”
Cappello finished third after battling for the lead throughout the final 20 laps. Kanke was fourth and Moore was fifth.
In other action, Jeremy Doss swept the SPEARS Modified Series and SPEARS Pro Late Model Series features that were run on the inner third-mile oval.
Derek Thorn, Blaine Rocha, Dylan Cappello, Cale Kanke, John Moore, Buddy Shepherd, Carlos Vieira, Jacob Gomes, Keith Spangler, Kole Raz, Tracy Bolin, Scott Sanchez, Andy Allen, Bob Lyon, Brandon Farrington, Dan Holtz, Dean Thompson, Trevor Huddleston, Dylan Garner.