Thorn Looks Back on Highs and Lows of 2020 Season

Even with another Spears SRL Southwest Tour championship on his mantle, the events that transpired at the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby were still on Derek Thorn's mind.


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Since the Snowball Derby on December 6, Derek Thorn has gone on to win a fifth SRL Southwest Tour title. He capped off his most dominant championship run yet with a win at Kern County Raceway Park, his eighth win in nine SRL races in 2020.

Even with another championship on his mantle, the events that transpired at the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby were still on his mind. He led a race-record 252 laps after starting on the pole, but he would leave Florida empty-handed after finishing second to Ty Majeski.

Now a month removed from the Derby, he put everything he and Campbell Motorsports had accomplished in the Gulf Coast into words.

“Everything but the last 10 laps I thought was a success. I think we had a really good car and Mike Keen did a good job getting that thing rolling,” Thorn told Speed51’s “The Bullring.” We had speed all weekend and we sat on the pole both races. Saturday night, the stagger blew up on us and that kind of bit us there, it was something we couldn’t control.

“In the Derby there, those last few laps I made a couple mistakes behind the wheel, I could’ve done a better job there. It’s great to have the speed and be in contention at the Derby. The biggest, the best 50 competitors in the country and to be able to be right there at the end, that’s all you can really ask for as a driver.”

It was the second consecutive event east of the Mississippi that Thorn had perhaps the strongest car in, only for it to go awry. He led the first 202 laps in the All American 400 in early November before contact with Carson Hocevar sent him into the wall and out of the race.

“It’s just a disappointing deal to have two races that I felt like we could’ve capitalized on and won with. Unfortunately, neither of them went our way but at the end of the day, they’re equally disappointing. It seems like a trend in racing, you have the best car and lady luck isn’t on your side. Unfortunately, with this industry we’re in, you can have the best car but you need lady luck on both sides to finish it off.”

Thorn and car owner Byron Campbell have been paired together since 2012, making their first Snowball Derby run two years later. In six attempts in the race, they have two top-fives and haven’t finished worse than 15th, while also winning the Snowflake 100 in 2019.

“This team is deserving to be right there. Mike Keen and Byron Campbell have given us an opportunity to put us in those positions. Being in Pensacola is an experience that if you haven’t gotten to take in, you need to. The fans are just awesome, to see a packed house up in the stands, from behind the wheel it looks like they’re having a good time but you don’t get to see their reactions until after the fact.”

While the results weren’t what Thorn had hoped for in the end, he was still proud to have represented the west coast as strongly as he did in both the Snowball Derby and the All American 400. He sees the camaraderie between he and fellow west coast-based competitors as a big team anytime a team heads east to race.

“I’ve noticed over the past years at the Derby, the people you race with throughout the year might be rivals at the track here on the west coast, they’re rooting for the west coast. We won eight of nine races this year with SRL and someone out east may say it’s weaker our west, or they don’t have the competition we have. When we come east and put on a show and be in contention and lead all the laps we did, I feel like it gives us a little more respect.”

Click here to watch a replay of Speed51’s “The Bullring.”

-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo