Derek Thorn earned a measure of vindication while Bubba Pollard claimed a long-deserved opportunity to race under a national television spotlight.
One night removed from getting parked for rough driving -- including a run-in with Snowball Derby rival Chandler Smith – Thorn won the Zoom Equipment 100 on Saturday night at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.
By virtue of his second and fourth place finishes across the Pepperjack Kennels Twin 100s, Pollard claimed the Superstar Racing Experience local legend ride offered to the contender with the best average result this weekend. Pollard will be in the field when SRX opens season two on June 18 in Pensacola.
Meanwhile, it’s been a topsy turvy weekend for Thorn but he leaves the Florida Gulf Coast with a more positive experience than how it was trending on Friday night. The Campbell Motorsports team wasn’t even sure they would finish the weekend.
"I can't thank this team enough," Thorn said. "Mike Keen and I have been together for about 12 years. This whole group has been together for a long time and that's what makes this special."
And they wanted to race.
Thorn did the rest in charging through the field from a 18th starting position.
"Just good equipment," Thorn said. "You can't win the Kentucky Derby on a donkey. This thing is good every time we come here. I'm still disappointed in myself I didn't do a better job last night. I came here focused on today and I couldn't be excited for these guys, our partners at Pepperjack Kennels, Tool Shack, Power Grade, all of our sponsors.
"They're allowing us to travel around the country and race this dream schedule this year."
Thorn drove from 18th to inside the top-10 by Lap 20 and was inside the top-5 by halfway. Hunter Robbins led every lap from the pole until Thorn drove by in Turns 3 and 3 with nine laps to go. The runner-up continues a strong start for the Ronnie Sanders Racing bunch in the Deep South.
"We fired off really good and thought we’d have what we needed at the end of the race, and we were good, but he was just better," Robbins said. "I wish we could have had this car last night because I think we’d sitting here, but it is what it is."
Matt Craig completed the podium.
With his fourth place run, Pollard will race on CBS in front of over one million viewers based on last year's audience.
"I just feel really fortunate, really lucky to do it here at a place I've raced at for so long," Pollard said. "So many great fans, who have stuck with me over the years. This is my home track now. A lot of my guys are from here and Mobile, this area. It means a lot. It's cool. It's cool to be a part of SRX and what they're doing to support short track racing and the racers who can showcase their talent.
"Hopefully we can make them proud."
Also, think of it this way: Pollard now gets to race the likes of Tony Stewart, Helio Castroneves, Bobby Labonte, Marco Andretti and Michael Waltrip.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity," Pollard said. "It's pretty cool. It's something I'm always going to remember. It's neat. Hopefully I can represent short track racing well and race for the win."
After everything that happened this weekend, how did Thorn sum it all up from Victory Lane?
"This is a sigh of relief to get a win a Super," Thorn said. "We've got one in the Pro and now we've knocked this off the bucket list."
Well, there's only one other one that remains on the list.
Southern Super Series Zoom Equipment 100
Five Flags Speedway
April 9, 2022
1. Derek Thorn
2. Hunter Robbins
3. Matt Craig
4. Bubba Pollard*
5. John Bolen
6. Cole Butcher
7. Daniel Dye
8. Stephen Nasse
9. Augie Grill
10. Blaine Rocha
11. Jake Garcia
12. Jake Finch
13. Michael Atwell
14. Ryan Crane
15. William Sawalich
16. Jackson Boone
17. Tyler Tanner
18. Gavan Boschele
19. Anthony Cataldi
20. Preston Peltier
21. Kyle Bryant
22. Dustin Smith
23. Colin Allman
24. Michael Hinde
25. Hudson Halder
NEW Southern Super Series Standings
Bubba Pollard Ldr.
Stephen Nasse -25
Hunter Robbins -33
Daniel Dye -67
Matt Craig -69
Jake Garcia -71
Jackson Boone -71
Jett Noland -101
Michael Hinde -101
Jake Finch -103