Derek Thorn

Derek Thorn of Bakersfield will be looking to extending his Spears Southwest Tour points lead with a victory Saturday night at Kern County Raceway Park. 

BY TOM MACHT For The Californian

Racing has never scared Derek Thorn.

Marriage, house buying and babies, that’s a different story.

But on Oct. 8, Thorn hit the trifecta with the birth of his first child, Hudson James.

Thorn reports that mom (Erika) and child are doing well at their Bakersfield home.

“Marriage, buying a house and having a kid, those are all the scary things and so far they all have worked out great,” Thorn said. “(Erika) has been a rock star through the whole process. I’m proud of her.”

While marriage and child rearing (especially diaper changing) bring a new perspective to Thorn, he’ll be in his real comfort zone — inside a race car — on Saturday night at Kern County Raceway Park. 

Thorn is coming off a big $15,000 win — yes, it was a slugfest — in Las Vegas last Saturday night and will be looking to extend his Spears Southwest Tour points lead with a win at KCRP on Saturday night.

First, a look back at last Saturday night’s drama where a late caution flag allowed Thorn to close the gap on leader Jeremy Doss and produced a five-lap shootout that left both drivers claiming the other raced a bit rough.

“He had a fast car all night and used me up a couple of times early in the race to get by,” Thorn said of Doss. “Then the caution came out with five to go and (on the restart) I moved him up the hill a little entering one and two and he returned the favor in three and four. I returned the favor in one and two and was able to pull away a little. There was no love lost. The timing was right on our end. I moved him when it counted.”

The night ended with a scuffle in the pits and plenty of bad feelings.

But Thorn has put that in the rearview mirror and set his sights on this Saturday night’s race where Doss is not entered.

“I’m looking forward to being back in front of the hometown crowd,” said Thorn, who won the big Winter Showdown at KCRP in February. “Being Halloween it’s always fun to see the kids dressed up and these cars are a lot of fun to race at Kern. The track is one of the best in the country and plus, I get to sleep in my own bed at night.”

A three-time SWT champ, Thorn has won two of the eight races this season and has a 54-point lead in the championship battle with just two races left.

“We really want the championship, but our main focus at Campbell Motorsports has always been to put our best foot forward and race for the win,” he said.

Fellow Bakersfield drivers Buddy Shepherd, Lance Wilson, Scott Sanchez and M.K. Kanke are among those entered.

Winter Showdown 300 laps

The Fourth Annual Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway will be a 300-lap event, up from the 250 laps the previous three years. The race, which pays $30,000 to win, will take place on Feb. 3, 2018.

“Our approach to the Winter Showdown is to make it better each year,” said the SRL’s Larry Collins. “We paid $25,000 to win in 2015, then increased the winner’s share up to $30,000. Last year we increased the start money from $2,000 to $3,000 with the support of Coors Light and Speed51.com, and now we’ll increase the laps to 300 in 2018.”

The format of the race weekend will also change for the teams in 2018, as the top 30 drivers from Friday night’s single car qualifying will go straight to Saturday’s 300 lap Winter Showdown. Four drivers will transfer from Friday night’s Last Chance Qualifier and the final two positions will be provisionals to make up the 36 car-starting.

Mike Griffith can be reached at 661 395-7390. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeGriffith54. 

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