Four-time SPEARS Southwest Tour champion Derek Thorn added to his long list of accomplishments with his 37th victory and 53rd fast-time at the Madera Speedway, presented by 51FIFTY LTM.
Thorn’s win did not come easy as he withstood challenges from current Nut Up Pro Late Model points leader Austin Herzog during Saturday’s 125-lap main event.
With MAVTV cameras rolling, Thorn was one of only two cars into the 13 second range on the one-third mile asphalt oval. His 13.839 topped Linny White’s 13.999.The redraw of the top eight qualifiers placed White on the pole underneath rookie Tyler Fabozzi with Thorn starting third.
Fabozzi used the outside to grab the lead position off the start. September Madera winner Jacob Gomes went up in smoke to end his night early for a caution on lap 12. After a red flag for clean-up, racing resumed with Fabozzi picking the outside and maintaining the lead. White stayed glued to Fabozzi’s bumper with the battle intensifying by lap 29. The battle ended when White tagged Fabozzi into turn three, sending him spinning for a lap 34 caution. Fabozzi blended into fourth while White was penalized to the rear, in 20th position.
The incident sent Thorn into the lead while 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model graduates Jesse Love and Austin Herzog, with 15 wins between them at Madera, battled for third. A caution flew when Bob Lyon spun out of a three-wide battle for eighth in turn one.
The 1999 Madera NASCAR Southwest Tour winner, Craig Raudman, entered the fold, running the outside line to pass both Cole Moore for second and then tag the rear of Thorn in a bid for the lead. Herzog had a good view for the battling and started to edge inside Raudman by lap 75 for the second position.
During the extended green flag run, lapped traffic became a factor by lap 84, which erased Thorn’s sizable lead. Love’s night ended up abruptly when his car retired to the infield with white smoke. The race stayed under green, however, and the lapped traffic continued to affect Thorn. Side-by-side traffic allowed Herzog to close within a car length of the top spot. Suddenly, Carlos Vieira spun from 12th at the tail end of the lead lap and Thorn narrowly avoided him before the caution fell.
The race restarted with 18 to go with Thorn leading Herzog and White, who had climbed up to third after the earlier incident. Thorn managed to drive away from Herzog, who engaged in a side-by-side duel with White for second.
A caution flew again on lap 120 which gave Herzog one last shot at Thorn. Herzog got slightly sideways coming to the line, and Thorn dashed away for the $5,000 victory. Herzog had a career-best Southwest Tour finish of second ahead White, 2018 Rookie of the Year Cole Moore, and two-time Madera Pro LM winner Blaine Rocha.
The co-feature on Saturday night saw the Spears Manufacturing Modifieds presented by Lucas Oil in a 75-lap MAVTV-televised contest, presented by K&N Filters. Peyton Saxton grabbed his first career series win in just his second start, claiming the $3,300 prize.
Out of state drivers Jeff Longman and William Guevara led the field to the green flag. After a spin by Travis McCullough slowed the initial start, things got underway with Guevara leading the way. Fast-time qualifier Hunter Corbitt spun for a yellow on lap three. Saxton used the caution to take the lead on lap four from Guevara.
McCullough’s misfortune continued when he crashed hard into the front stretch wall to end his night. His teammate Eric Nascimento, Jr. pitted multiple times for repairs to right side damage, as well. When the racing resumed, Longman fell backwards to outside the top-five. Ryan Schartau, starting 11th and the most recent winner, drove into fourth by lap 12. Tenth starting Cody Kay was up to fifth, as well.
Eddie Second started his attempts to get around former series champion Dylan Cappello for second. Meanwhile Kyle Keller retired with mechanical issues on lap 28. A multi-car incident slowed the action when Corbitt tagged 18-year-old recent high school graduate, Jeremy Kay, in turn two, with Kay spinning to collect both Nascimento and Doug Carpenter. Carpenter was done for the evening as a result of the damage.
Cappello looked inside Saxton on the restart before taking the lead on lap 44 after some sliding and contact. Saxton grabbed it back on lap 45 and they remained side-by-side for the next three laps before Saxton was solidly ahead. Secord ran all over Schartau for third behind them.
Secord finally managed to get past Schartau on lap 65, but couldn’t close down on the leaders. Saxton took the comfortable lead ahead of Cappello, Second, Corbitt, and Schartau. Schartau and Cappello will be locked in a near dead-heat for the points lead when the series heads to its next race at Kern County.
The supporting Hobby Stocks race was a satisfying one for Steve Schermerhorn as the 2018 champion stamped his authority on the pack by lapping the entire field. Schermerhorn was the only driver to complete all 30 laps while another recent high school graduate Manny Gonzales, Jr. defeated Dean Gould, driving a Late Model truck, for the second position.
Up next for Madera Speedway is a huge night of racing on Saturday. The North State Modifieds and North State/Madera Hobby Stock Challenge will be competing, plus the Madera Late Models, Jr. Late Model Series 30-lap exhibition race, Southwest Truck Series, Toyota Sedans, MSTs, and Legends of the Pacific.
For more information about Madera Racing on MAVTV, visit www.racemadera.com or www.mavtv.com.
Madera Speedway is presented by major partners Nut Up Industries, 51FIFTY Energy Drink, iPull-uPull, and Color Fast Industries. Contingency sponsors include Five Star Bodies, Maita Motorsports, McCallister Precision Marketing, and StopTech Brakes.
Madera Racing on MAVTV airs Thursdays every week. The show airs at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and is also available on the Lucas Oil Racing TV app. The first round of the 2019 51FIFTY Energy Drink Jr. Late Model Series airs on June 20.