Matching his strong start for the 2010 SRL SPEARS Southwest Tour, 2011 championship hopeful Derek Thorn led 127 laps en route to victory in the “World’s Champion 140” at All American Speedway on Saturday night.
"We had a good car, but it was tough," said Thorn. "We avoided like six wrecks out there in lap traffic so I am glad to have this one over with. It's nice to come out here and dominate. Up front is where we belong."
A sold out crowd of over 5,000 fans welcomed the series as the under card for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West later that night.
Thorn had a similarly dominating performance when the series visited the California bullring in March of 2010.
“It was one of the best turning cars I have ever driven,” Thorn said. “Junior Joiner (Thorn’s crew chief) lost his Grandmother last week, so we were racing in her honor, so it was really cool to get the win tonight.”
A seven-car inversion had Thorn slated to start fifth, while 17 year-old fast-time qualifier Jacob Gomes would have to start seventh. But after polesitter Jonathan Mawhinney was unable to start the race, Thorn moved up to the third starting position.
While Kanke and Pettit raced forward from 22nd and 16th on the grid respectively, rookie Zane Lovelace, Jr. led the field.
The race was slowed by nearly a dozen cautions, including crashes for 2010 champion Jonathon Gomez on lap nine, and three-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion Eric Holmes on lap 28.
Thorn took the lead from Lovelace on a lap 13 restart and ran nearly unopposed for the rest of the event.
Through the pack, 2006 champion Eric Schmidt had a solo spin that cost him a top-10 effort and sophomore driver Dallas Montes surrendered third place when his car stalled under a lap 30 caution.
Kanke and Pettit navigated through the wild action with Kanke assuming fifth on lap 111. A late caution on lap 132 gave Gomes, now in second, and Carlos Vieira an opportunity to challenge Thorn.
But Thorn rocketed away on the restart as he cruised to a three-quarter of a second victory over Gomes and Vieira. Olympia, Washington’s Jared Vorse made a late race comeback after an earlier spin to pass Pettit for fourth. Kanke came home sixth.
"We're off to a good start this season and we just need to stay with it," added Thorn. "Consistency wins championships and that's what we need to be about."
The series returns to action on May 14 at the Las Vegas Bullring for third of ten races on the schedule.
Results: SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series
WORLD’S CHAMPION HAND CLEANER 140
presented by AmeriPride Uniform Services
1.Derek Thorn 2.Jacob Gomes 3.Carlos Vieira 4.Jared Vorse 5.Jim Pettit II 6.M.K. Kanke 7.Ross Strmiska 8.Dave Byrd 9.Keith Spangler 10.Justin Westmoreland 11.Eric Schmidt 12.Michael Sandoval 13.John Wood 14.Bear Rzesnowiecky 15.Eric Holmes 16.Bryan Herzog 17.Michelle Nagai 18.Jonathon Gomez 19.Cole Cabrera 20.Scott Sanchez 21.Dallas Montes 22.Bobby Hodges 23.Zane Lovelace 24.Ken Benhamou 25.Tim Smith 26.Jonathan Mawhinney