The student was quicker in qualifying, but when it came time to race the teacher served up another lesson.

Derek Thorn led all but the first 11 laps on Saturday night at Kern County Raceway as he dominated the Bulwark FR-Timberland Pro 101 Spears Southwest Tour race, pulling away from fellow Bakersfield driver Buddy Shepherd over the final 40 laps.

Shepherd, who was tutored by Thorn a couple of years ago, set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 17.752 seconds around the half-mile oval. Thorn was second at 17.739.

But when it came time to race, Thorn showed why he is a three-time series champion (looking for his fourth) and the series leader in wins with 32.

“Mike Keen does a great job of preparing these cars and Byron and Carol Campbell (car owners) and everyone else on the team, I can’t thank them enough,” Thorn said.

The race was halted at the midway point to allow refueling and chassis adjustments, and Thorn and Shepherd led the way to the green flag.

Shepherd battled hard on the inside and the two ran side-by-side for three laps before Thron edged ahead.

“That 43, he was a rocketship tonight, no doubt about it,” Shepherd said.  “He’s the king around this place. I’m just glad he was still in our sites coming down the straightaway at the end of the race.

“We had a good race. It’s not too bad. I had a really good car.”

Thorn pulled away as the laps wore down, ending up 5.22 seconds ahead at the finish.

“We try to do our best (to put on a good show), but sometimes it’s a snoozefest,” Thorn said. “None of us like to finish second, we’re all going for the win.”  

A four-car wreck happened in turn four on the final lap, just ahead of Thorn and Shepherd who were headed toward the checkered flag and easily missed any contact as the caution light came out as the checkered flag was waving.

“That caution came at the right time, the checkered already came out,” Thorn said. “Sometimes things work out in your favor and tonight was that kind of night.”

Christian McGee finished third, followed by Bobby Hodges and Carlos Vieira.

Ricky Schlick started on the pole and powered into the lead at the outset and held it until Thorn worked the bottom for a couple of laps before getting by and taking the lead on the 13th lap.

Thorn moved out to a 10-car length lead and pretty much maintained that until a caution bunched the field on the 26th lap.

Thorn chose the outside lane on the restart and held his lead and Schlick fell into the grasp of Trevor Huddleston, who moved into second on the 42nd lap.

At the midway break it was Thorn followed by Huddleston, Schlick, Shepherd and McGee.

Schlick and Huddleston lost any chance at victory during the break due to tire issues (blistering). Schlick changed a tire, incurring a two-lap penalty, and Huddleston opted to park his cars rather than restart two laps down.

The 30-lap Spec Mod feature had a barnburner of a finish with Jim Coffey using as much of the race track as he could to barely hold off Jason Galvin.

The margin of victory: 086 of a second, about three feet.

Coffey took the lead early in the race with Galvin in chase, at first about five car lengths back. With nine laps to go, Galvin was on Coffey’s bumper and the race was on.

At first, Galvin tried low. Then he went high and Coffey countered every move as the laps wound down. Galvin was determined to get around on the high side over the last two laps, but Coffey pushed his car as high as he could coming out of the turns, squeezing Galvin out toward  the wall.

Afterward, the two had a bit of a discussion in victory lane.

“He let me know I pushed him high a couple of times,” said Coffey, the track champion. “I don’t like racing like that. He gave me a couple of taps, he probably could have wadded me up but didn’t.”

Galvin was looking for his third win on the season and was clearly unhappy.

"It was a great race and I have a lot of respect for Jim, I just told him I don’t appreciate being raced like that,” Galvin said.

Ed Coffey finished a distant third with Jason Wattenbarger fourth.

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