Thorn Scores First Career Win

Derek Thorn

Derek Thorn celebrates his win in the Toyota/NAPA 150 at Havasu 95 Speedway Saturday night. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Derek Thorn earned his first career NASCAR win in just his eighth career NASCAR K&N Pro Series West start Saturday at Havasu 95 Speedway.

Thorn, who recorded his first career Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day, waged a race-long, back-and-forth battle with Dylan Kwasniewski before charging ahead for the win in the closing laps of the Toyota/NAPA 150 presented by Gene Price Motorsports.

Thorn and Kwasniewski traded the lead back and forth in side-by-side action around the tight, quarter-mile oval following several restarts, with the pair exchanging the lead six times. Thorn eventually pulled away in the No. 6 Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil/Eibach Ford to win by 1.010 seconds. He led four times for 141 laps, while Kwasniewski took the lead three times for nine laps.

“I’ve got to pay a tribute to the Sunrise Ford team, (car owner) Bob Bruncati and (crew chief) Bill Sedgwick and all the guys at the shop,” Thorn said of the team. “It was really hard coming here to this track, because no one had raced here. It’s hard to take something from practice and prepare yourself for a 150-lap race, because at 125 laps the car is doing something completely different than it was at Lap 50. It was a lot of guess-work, but the guys did an awesome job of putting an awesome car underneath me. I’m so thankful to be here and get this victory in (the) K&N (Pro Series).”

Thorn – who called Lakeport, Calif., home, but now resides in Bakersfield – made a point of thanking those who have helped him in his career, particularly his parents and Bruncati.

“There’s been a lot of people help me get to this point,” said Thorn, who turns 26 later this month. “I’ve got to thank my mom and dad, especially. The list is endless for the amount of people that have helped me out to get to this point in my career. I can’t thank them enough, especially Bob Bruncati.”

Points leader David Mayhew, who started seventh on the grid, got by Kwasniewski in the late stages of the race for second. Michael Self and Eric Holmes rounded out the top five.

“When the sun went down the thing came alive,” Mayhew said of his No. 17 MMI Services/Ron’s Rear Ends Chevrolet. “It was fun to come out of here with a second.”

Kwasniewski, who had previously won at Havasu in other divisions, was upbeat about the event.

“It was a great race,” he said. “I love all the fans here. I was trying as hard as I could, but it was getting a little too loose.”

Several newcomers to the series came away with a top 10 finish, meanwhile. Series rookie Cameron Hayley finished sixth, with Austin Dyne coming home seventh in his series debut. Braeden Havens was eighth, in only his second series start, while Ryan Partridge was ninth in his series debut. Defending series champion Greg Pursley was 10th.

With the victory, Thorn locked up a spot in the UNOH Battle At The Beach, to be held on a temporary oval on the back stretch of Daytona International Speedway during Speedweeks 2013.

The Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by Gene Price Motorsports will air on SPEED on May 10 at 3 p.m. ET.

Mayhew leads Thorn by three points and Kwasniewski by six after two races.

The next event on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule is the Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park on April 28.

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