IRVINE, CALIFORNIA (JULY 7, 2011) Lakeport's Derek Thorn made a valiant return to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Saturday in Irwindale, California. Competing in the Toyota Dealers of Southern California 200 presented by King Taco at Toyota Speedway, Thorn raced his way to an impressive second place finish aboard the Byron Campbell Racing #44 Chevrolet that carries primary sponsorship from Four Star Fruit with additional support from Superior Crankshaft and Hronis Racing.


"The crew did an awesome job getting the car dialed in and it really showed in the last 100 laps," said Thorn. "Four Star Fruit and Hronis Racing have created a great opportunity for us to show that we belong up front. We ran well at the Showdown back in January and to come back to Irwindale and run up front again compliments our partners and sponsors that work so hard to get us there."


Saturday night marked Thorn's third start of 2011 in the series that features the future stars of NASCAR and some of the most action packed racing of all NASCAR sanctioned divisions with the best of the best in young talent. When the checkered flag flew on Saturday's race, Thorn once again proved he is very much among that top talent and has a solid future ahead in professional auto racing.


In preliminary action on Saturday, Thorn drove the Four Star Fruit/Superior Crankshaft and Hronis Racing #44 Chevrolet to the top of the charts in practice with a lap time of 18:668 seconds and a top speed of 96.422 around the half mile. The early success illustrated that Thorn picked up right where he left off in Irwindale back in January when he turned many heads by earning the pole in the Toyota Showdown.


In qualifying on Saturday, Thorn turned the eighth fastest lap of the day with a top speed of 96.489 miles per hour. Thorn's Chevrolet appeared to be destined for a top qualifying lap after the success in practice but a slight error in turn three during his run cost the 25-year-old stock car ace a few ticks on the stopwatch. Thorn would do what he does best in the wake of the slight set back, rally back towards the front of the field and put on a show for the fans and the 80 plus Superior Crankshaft guests in attendance.

After the waving of the green flag, Thorn quickly muscled towards the front of the field and began to battle with fifth place runner Jason Fensler with only three laps into the event. Shortly after both drivers broke into the top five it became a multi car battle as Thorn and Fensler began racing with Michael Self in the fourth position. Thorn would settle into the fifth position for several laps as he battled a very loose car and was looking forward to the caution break at the race's halfway point to make the needed adjustments.


With crew chief Junior Joiner making the perfect calls on the needed adjustments, Thorn returned to the track at the halfway point in the seventh starting position. With a much tighter car he quickly began working his way to the front. On lap 105 he went to the low side of the track and powered his way all the way up to the fourth position. Five laps later he reinstated his battle with Fensler for the third position for the next nine laps until overtaking Fensler with 119 laps complete.


"After restarting seventh at that final 100 mark it was awesome being able to make it back to the front and challenge for the lead," said Thorn. "We had a chance there at one point to try and pass the leader but I couldn't complete the pass. The car was a little off in the first 100, we were only good on the short runs but the crew did a good job getting the car where it belonged for the final half."


With 164 laps in the book, Thorn made the battle for the second position a three car contest he raced side by side with Dylan Kwasniewski and Michael Self for the position behind leader Greg Pursley. One lap later Thorn overtook the bridesmaid position from Self and began closing in on Pursley for the lead. He made one strong attempt to get around the dominant leader; however, as the #44 Impala was becoming loose once again he was forced to settle down into the second position all the way to the checkered flag.


As he pulled into the pit area following his run the celebration was a jubilant as if he had scored the victory with the Campbell and Joiner crew as well as many fellow team owners and drivers who were quick to commend Thorn for his solid run. The second place finish was well needed by the team who were forced to park their car at the last NASCAR West event in Vegas due to mechanical woes prior to the start of the race


"I really wanted that win, I feel the caliber of our team is very capable of winning one of these K&N races," added Thorn. "It's harder being a part time team and showing up against these well funded operations. It was awesome being able to put on a charge late in the race. Four Star Fruit and Hronis were there on hand watching as well as a lot of the employees from Superior Crankshaft so it was really cool being able to run up front. I'm really proud of our Joiner Motrorsports crew; they worked their butts off to keep us up front and in contention. I can't wait to get back to the K&N Series; we're shooting for the Phoenix race in the fall so hopefully we can get this team their first win there in the series."


Thorn will now return to his championship chase in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series on July 23rd at Rocky Mountain Raceway in Salt Lake City Utah.


Derek Thorn is proud to carry the sponsorship of Four Star Fruits and Hronis Racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Additionally Thorn has a number of marketing partners and associate sponsors supporting his efforts. Among the sponsors are: Eibach Springs, Joiner Race Cars, Superior Crankshaft, JRI Shocks, Joe's Racing Products, NEO,  Finishline Signs, Sigma Engineering and Fastenal.


To learn more about this talented young driver visit Derek Thorn's personal website at www.derekthorn.com. Further information can also be found at the site of one of his title sponsors, www.superiorcrankshaftracing.com.



Copyright 2012 Derek Thorn Racing / Blakesley Sports Media