Derek Thorn, out of Lakeport, Calif., started from the seventh position and charged to the front after Dylan Kwasniewski, who earned the pole position earlier in the day, set a blistering pace in the early going. Thorn, who collected his second win of the season, had built a more than seven-second lead on Lap 120, but had to hold off rookie Dallas Montes and Eric Holmes on a green-white-checkered finish after a late caution.
By Shon Sbarra, NASCAR
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Derek Thorn won the NAPA Auto Parts 150 in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West action on Saturday night at NAPA Speedway.
Thorn, out of Lakeport, Calif., started from the seventh position and charged to the front after Dylan Kwasniewski, who earned the pole position earlier in the day, set a blistering pace in the early going. Thorn, who collected his second win of the season, had built a more than seven-second lead on Lap 120, but had to hold off rookie Dallas Montes and Eric Holmes on a green-white-checkered finish after a late caution.
With the 150-lap race being run without any scheduled pit stops, tire management was the key to success, according to Thorn.
“I knew this race was going to be hard on tires,” said Thorn, who has championship crew chief Bill Sedgwick calling the shots for the No. 6 Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil/Eibach Ford. “Even when the car felt good, you had to back off in the car even more.”
Nevertheless, Thorn was able to open up a lead of more than seven seconds before several cautions bunched the field late in the race. He pulled away on each restart and held a margin of .808 seconds in taking the checkered flag.
Montes – filling in for David Mayhew, who was competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in Las Vegas – took second while Holmes crossed the line in third. Rookies Taylor Cuzick and Austin Dyne completed the top five.
“I don’t know what to say,” an emotional Montes said, while thanking car owner Steve McGowan and his sponsors for the opportunity. “Running good like this is huge for us.”
Montes was recently named to participate in the upcoming 2012 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine, in which candidates compete for an opportunity to be a part of the 2013 NASCAR Drive for Diversity class of drivers.
“I can’t thank the NASCAR Diversity program enough for the opportunity,” he said. “I’ve been able to go back there the last two years. I’ve done pretty well, but not quite good enough. Hopefully, this year’s the year.”
Fifteen-year-old Hannah Newhouse, who was also selected for the Diversity Combine and was also in her series debut, finished sixth at Albuquerque. She was followed by her teammate at Rich Thompson Racing and fellow rookie Braeden Havens. Points leader Greg Pursley, Kwasniewski and Carl Harr rounded out the top 10.
In the championship standings, Kwasniewski trimmed Pursley’s lead to 14 points – 547 to 533. Thorn is 37 points out of the lead with 510. Holmes is fourth with 489, while Michael Self is fifth with 471. Mayhew slipped to sixth at 470, followed by Cameron Hayley at 427, Austin Dyne at 424, Jonathon Gomez at 412 and Ryan Philpott at 370.
Dyne, meanwhile, has opened up an eight-point lead over Hayley in what has been a tight challenge for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. Dyne leads with 107 over Hayley with 99.
The NAPA Auto Parts 150 will air on SPEED on Oct. 11 at 3 p.m. ET.
The next event on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule is the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., on Oct. 13.