Derek Thorn Returning to Five Flags as Snowball Derby Champion

It's a new team and a new series, but Derek Thorn hopes for a similar result in Pensacola.

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Derek Thorn returns to Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida this weekend for the ASA STARS National Tour’s Sunshine State 200. For the first time, he comes to Five Flags as a Snowball Derby champion.

“It definitely hasn’t gotten old yet, I’ll tell you that,” said Thorn on being referred to as a Derby winner. “I don’t know if it will, but not today.”

Of course, that won’t be the only thing different for Thorn as he returns to Pensacola. He arrives with a different team, taking part in the inaugural event for the brand-new national touring series. Thorn discussed that and more this week on Racing America's "The Bullring."

Thorn won the 2022 Snowball Derby with Byron Campbell Motorsports in their final race together, with Campbell shutting down operations following the marquee win. For this weekend’s event, Thorn has partnered with Shafer Motorsports and Chris Purdy in a reunion of sorts.

“Shafer Motorsports have been a staple in the Midwest for years. Chris Purdy has been the crew chief for Paulie for the last five or six years. Backtrack 15 years, when I was living in California making my very first venture east, it was ASA Late Models, at the time the ASA Challenge Series, and Chris Purdy was my crew chief.

“We always kept in touch over the years. As Campbell’s time was coming to an end, I started putting my feelers out and talking to Purdy. He already had an alliance with FURY, we do a lot of the same things, we had the relationship from the past, and the timing and the fit were perfect.”

Thorn returns to Five Flags with confidence from the Snowball Derby triumph, but he knows how quickly success can turn into heartbreak at Five Flags Speedway. After all, the partnership with Byron Campbell that ended with hoisting the Tom Dawson Trophy began with a barrel roll during the 2011 Snowball Derby.

“The first time we went there, we ended up flipping. Between the time I flipped and the time I won, there were a lot of ups and downs. Pensacola is one of those tracks where you try not to get too confident coming in, because it will humble you real quick, even from one day to the next.

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The first time we went there, we ended up flipping. Between the time I flipped and the time I won ... Pensacola is one of those tracks where you try not to get too confident coming in, because it will humble you real quick

Derek Thorn

The Sunshine State 200 comes with plenty of unknowns as well. The first race of a brand-new series offers its own challenges. The 200-lap distance will also be a unique challenge for even the most seasoned of Five Flags veterans, accustomed to either the 100 or 125-lap Blizzard Series races or the 300-lap Snowball Derby.

“I think I have the confidence, but you have to show up with a blank slate and be prepared for the unknown. This is the first ASA Tour race. It’s a different structure with the tires, it’s a 200-lap race. There’s going to be a lot of strategy that goes into who has the best tires at the end and where the cautions fall.”

Click here to watch the episode of "The Bullring" and see Thorn's full interview.

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