Saturday, December 7, 2013


Derek Thorn - the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West 2013 Champion (Getty Images for NASCAR)
Derek Thorn - the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West 2013 Champion
(Getty Images for NASCAR)

Thorn Captures Title In Second Full Season Of K&N West Competition 

Derek Thorn and the Sunrise Ford Racing team set a goal for themselves early in 2013. Fifteen races later their goal was accomplished, with Thorn winning the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship.

“Our whole goal in 2013 was the championship,” said the tall, soft-spoken 27-year-old Californian – who won the title in just his second full season of series competition. “We sat down and had a long talk about it in March, before we came to Phoenix the first time. We just happened to put together an awesome season for ourselves. We weren’t always the fastest; but we were a model of consistency and we always put together good solid strong runs – and to win a championship, that’s exactly what we had to do.”

Derek Thorn – 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Champion
Thorn drove car owner Bob Bruncati’s No. 6 Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil/Eibach Ford to three wins, three poles, 12 top-fives and 14 top-10s. He scored his first career road course win with a victory at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June. He also had wins on two short tracks – Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway in May and Colorado National Speedway in Dacono in July. He won Coors Light Pole awards at Colorado; NAPA Speedway in Albuquerque, N.M.; and All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif.

Thorn – who was originally from Lakeport, but now resides in Bakersfield – jumped out front in the championship standings early in the season. He built on his lead with top-five finishes through the first 10 events of the schedule. Thorn maintained his advantage in points with three runner-up finishes within a four-race span late in the year, enough to carry him through to the title despite an uncharacteristic 15th-place finish in the season finale. He held on to clinch the championship by a six-point margin over Cameron Hayley.

The strategy of the Sunrise Ford team this season was simply to approach each race one by one, according to Thorn.

“We took it one race at a time,” he said. “It’s taking the good with the bad. You have those weekends where your car is awesome and you can run up front, lead laps and not have to worry about running with anybody else. And then there’s those weekends where you’re running fourth, fifth, sixth place and you’re just making the most of what you’ve got. On weekends where we weren’t the best, we were able to keep a cool head and make the most out of it and salvage a few extra points out of a bad day.”

This year’s championship comes as Thorn wraps up his second year of a two-year deal driving for Bruncati.

“It’s definitely a good way to cap off a two-year stint we had with Bob Bruncati and the No. 6 team,” Thorn said. “I can’t thank Bob and Maureen Bruncati (enough) for giving me the opportunity to drive the (No.) 6 for two years like they did. Bill Sedgwick, the crew chief, and all these guys on the team have really, really worked hard to get us in the position to win the championship.

“This championship is by far an all-time high,” Thorn said. “I’ve been trying to cherish every moment.”

In 36 starts since making his series debut in 2011, Thorn has five career wins, four poles, 26 top-five and 30 top-10 finishes. His initial success came in the pre-season NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in January of 2011, where he won the pole and finished eighth. He ran a limited schedule of six series events that season, including three after joining the Sunrise Ford Racing team late in the year.

Thorn began his racing career competing in Winged Outlaw Karts in Northern California, where he won two titles. He won a track championship racing street stocks at his hometown track of Lakeport Speedway in 2002 and then raced in the Modified division there in 2003 and 2004. Thorn moved on to compete in the North State Challenge Series in 2005 and 2006 and the ASA Late Model Challenge in 2007 and 2008. He also raced in six NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races in 2008, with a top-five finish at Music City. After returning to the West Coast, he began racing in the SRL Spears Southwest Tour Series in 2010 and won a title in that series a couple of years later. 

NASCAR President Mike Helton presents Derek Thorn with the championship trophy
(Getty Images for NASCAR)

Thorn will be honored as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion for 2013 during the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards ceremony in the Crown Ballroom of the Charlotte (N.C) Convention Center inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Saturday, Dec. 14. The awards ceremony is slated to be streamed live online in three languages – English French and Spanish – at

No comments: