Irwindale, CA., Jul. 17 – Spears Mfg SRL Southwest Tour Series champions Derek Thorn, 35, and Jeremy Doss, 24, showed Saturday at Irwindale Speedway why they dominate in touring Spears Southwest Tour super late models, modifieds and pro late models. They won all three main events and increased their existing point leads. Pro LM and modifieds raced on the four-degree banked third-mile; SLM teams raced on the six to 12 degree-banked half mile. An estimated 5,500 spectators attended to watch the touring Spears series that competes at five speedways in California. The events were shown live via PPV-TV and via tape delay by MAVTV Network on a date to be determined. .
Thorn, from Bakersfield, has won six of seven Spears SLM features this season, including six in a row and counting. He now has won two of three 2021 mains at Irwindale. He drove his usual No. 43 Toyota Camry from Five Star Bodies for owners Byron and Carol Campbell. The five-time Spears SLM series champion added to his existing record with his 55th victory in the two decade old series. He is the fourth series point leader this season after incurring a problem in the February opener at IS that put him behind in points.
Doss, a two-time series champion from Upper Lake, has won five of seven features in the inaugural Spears Pro Late Model Series. He drove the No. 75 Toyota Camry-bodied Fury chassis owned by his father Mike. They won two series races at IS earlier this season. Doss also has captured six of seven Spears Modifieds features this year, including the last three races. He won three of four modified mains at IS this season driving the No. 75 STR chassis owned by Eddie Wilcox with crew chief/car constructor Steve Teets handling the mechanical end.
The “Salted Metals 100 presented by Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse” was event number seven of ten this season. David Mulcahy of Salted Metal added $5,000 to the regular $5,000 purse for the winner making it a $10,000 victory for Thorn. Motor City Throwdown also added $2,500 to the purse for any driver that could defeat Thorn in any of the final four 2021 features. Thorn will receive the “bounty” money if no one beats him. Thorn said he is flattered by the bounty and thankful for the addition of sponsor money in the series. He welcomes the chance to win an extra $2,500. Glenn Davis, owner of Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse in Colton and San Dimas, again provided a free BBQ meal to Spears racers at 8:00 pm Friday after practice sessions.
The featured 100-lap SLM event followed the Pro LM and modified mains. A fan autograph session was held under the main grandstand from 5:45 to 6:30 because of the upper 80s heat. Drivers sat at tables or stood beside their race cars. The top eight qualifiers drew for their starting positions in all three divisions as fans watched. Spears SLM first-time fastest qualifier Trevor Huddleston, the 2015-17 NASCAR late model track and state champion, drew six. Modified fastest qualifier/rookie Sam Jacks drew seven, and Pro LM quickest qualifier Dylan Zampa pulled a five.
Thorn, only the eighth fastest qualifier in a field of 19, drew three for his starting position, and watched Jacob Gomes pull the envelope containing number one (pole position). Twenty-two cars were entered and 20 practiced. Andre Prescott crashed about 7:30 pm during Friday practice, sidelining his car. Sixteen modifieds and a season-low 13 pro late models competed with about seven teams drawn to opening night at their home track in San Bernardino.
SLM: Veterans Gomes and John Moore occupied the front row with Thorn starting third and Dylan Cappello, formerly from Peoria, AZ, fourth. Cappello, now lives in Charlotte, N.C and works as a team engineer for Front Row Motorsports and the No. 38 NASCAR truck raced by Todd Gilliland. He has enjoyed his team engineer duties for a year and a half, including time at David Gilliland Racing initially. Known as a modified racer, Cappello won his first modified feature at Irwindale in 2014–his Lucas Oil Series championship season.
Cappello, whose parents and grandparents came from Arizona to see him race, drove his first two SLM races with Spears in November-December 2020. At Las Vegas he placed second to Thorn with 42 cars present and at Bakersfield he had less successful results. With the NCWT Series idle from July 9 to August 8, Cappello accepted the text offer from his past modified car owner Mike Garcia, from Lodi, to race at IS and go for a possible $12,500 payoff in only his third SLM race.
Row three had Cale Kanke and Huddleston, while row four occupants were Oregon resident Kole Raz and IS 2020 late model champion Dean Thompson. Gomes led the initial lap narrowly over Thorn, who took the lead on lap 2 and retained it to the lap 100 checkers. However, Thorn had to race hard all the way and earned his $10,000 victory in a hotly-contested event.
Moore took second from Gomes on lap 17 and closed quickly to within a few yards of leader Thorn by lap 30. Gomes went to the infield work area behind K-rails but returned. A lap 33 two-by-two restart had Cappello and Kanke in row two. Cappello, driving Mike Garcia’s No. 57 (formerly No. 71 Christian McGhee ride) promptly shot into second spot with an inside pass of Moore in the first two corners, and Huddleston took third from Moore. A lap later contact between Moore and Huddleston sent P. 3 Huddleston’s RCF-built No. 50 into the first turn crash-wall nose first. He was unhurt, but his car was sidelined.
The two abreast line-up for the lap 34 green flag had Thorn outside and Cappello inside with Moore and Kanke in row two. Lap 35 had Thorn in front of Cappello by ten yards, with Kanke, Moore, series rookie Buddy Shepherd, Brandon Farrington, Dean Thompson, and Blaine Rocha following. On lap 40 Thompson’s right front Hoosier tire was cut, turning his car sharply into the turn two crashwall. It scraped along the wall to a stop with heavy RF damage. Thompson was uninjured, but the RCF-built No. 51 joined the team car of Huddleston in the pits. It received an estimated repair bill of up to $8,000.
The same double file restart lineup had Thorn again select the outside line with impressive Cappello on the inside. At the lap 50 halfway mark Thorn held a steady 20-yard advantage over Cappello with Kanke, Farrington, Shepherd, Moore, Carlos Vieira, Rocha, Tracy Bolin and Raz in the top ten and all 15 cars on the lead lap. On lap 55 Dan Holtz brand new Rowdy (Hamke) chassis had a stuck throttle and slammed hard into the third turn crashwall. He escaped serious injury, but the car was towed to the pits.The red flag flew for 11-minutes.
When racing resumed, Thorn (outside) and Cappello (inside) again resumed their battle for the lead with Cappello only a few lengths from Thorn’s back bumper. At lap 75 Cappello trailed by five yards, with P. 3 Kanke 40-yards behind Cappello, who closed rapidly by lap 80 and began racing side-by-side out of turn two with leader Thorn. They exchanged paint several times with the right side of Cappello’s car later showing that rubbing is racing.
Cappello was quicker in the first two turns and Thorn was faster in turns three and four. From lap 84 to lap 94 they raced side-by-side on the backstretch. Several times Cappello’s right rear fender was even with Thorn’s left front fender, but he could not complete a pass for the lead. On lap 95 Andy Allen’s car spun out leavting turn four and stopped next to the crashwall. Outside-running Thorn had to slow briefly and barely missed Allen’s car as Cappello shot into the lead. The yellow flag flew so Thorn resumed the lead. His short run speed was critical because Cappello’s car had long-run speed.
The two-by-two restart of lap 95 had Thorn outside and Cappello, 25, inside as usual. Under green cars ran three abreast through turns and Kanke took second from Cappello. Rocha, from Oakdale, jumped from P. 7 to fourth and then took third from Cappello on lap 96 and second from Kanke a lap later. Thorn opened a ten-yard advantage over his dueling followers. Cappello took third from Kanke on lap 98 and the top four ran unchanged during the final two laps.
Thorn opened a 30-yard lead at the finish. Impressive Rocha, 23, started 11th and trailed Thorn by 1.294. Followers were: Cappello (-1.480), Kanke (1-893), Moore (-1.935), Shepherd (-2.077), Vieira (-2.337), Gomes (-2.587), Keith Spangler (-2.789), Raz (-3.207) and Bolin (-3.460) all completed 100 laps with 14 cars racing at the finish. The race took 62 minutes on the clock, but was 49-minutes officially because there was a red flag plus three yellow flags. Thorn clocked the fastest lap of 17.888 (100.626 mph).
PRO LM 60: The Sigma Performance Services Spears Mfg 60 presented by Optima Batteries was round seven of 11 this season. It offered the winner $3,000. Fastest qualifier Dylan Zampa, from Napa, started fifth. Second fastest Doss drew the pole and used it to lead all 60 laps. Zampa took second spot on lap 15 from his older brother Logan, 21, and trailed Doss by 0.448 at the finish. Logan, in a team No. 92 car owned by their dad Joey, placed third, 0.667 behind the winner. The Henderson, NV Reif brothers—Tanner, 15, and Tyler, 14, finished fourth and fifth and were the only other drivers on the lead lap. Tanner passed brother Tyler on lap 31 and maintained a car length advantage to the finish.
Twelve of 13 starters finished the 20-minute race. P. 7 Cole Brown, 16, ran the fastest lap of 76.900 mph. Third running Kyle Meyer and fourth place Seth Wise, the last series winner at Bakersfield,on June 26, collided in the first turn on lap 58. Both spun out for the only caution of the race. Sixth through tenth place drivers completed 59 laps, including recent INEX Legend Car triple winner / first time IS Pro LM driver Christian Bazen, 18, a Saugus High School junior. His family bought the No. 21 Gary Collins car that won the 2020 IS All-Star Showdown Pro LM feature.
MODIFIEDS 60: A 16-car field of modifieds for the General Tire 60 presented by Comp Cams offered the winner $1,500. Sam Jacks, 21, from Las Vegas, started seventh after the eight quickest drivers drew starting slots. The race had three leaders. Modified rookie Andrew Anderson, 28, started third and led the initial lap. Pole starter Travis Thirkettle, 43, led laps 2-36. Then second starter Doss led laps 37-60 and won by 0.796 over Thirkettle.
Travis McCullough, a two-time series 2021 feature winner at IS and Roseville, placed third, 1.104 off the lead. Anderson earned fourth, with 16-year old rookie/Legends graduate Stephen Brucker fifth. Eddie Second and FQ Jacks also logged 60 laps. Fifteen of 16 starters finished the 20-minute race. Thirkettle ran the fastest lap of 77.163 mph. Drivers came from four states—CA, AZ, NV and UT.
A special event followed the first Spears main event. The Partridge brothers, Ryan and Andy, gave a five minute demonstration of drifting. Ryan drove an old BMW red sedan donated to the speedway by a woman. It had 300,000+ miles and old tires. Andy used the IS white Ford Mustang pace car. Fans voted Ryan the winner by almost 100% after he gave an inspired demonstration of tire smoking at speed on the third and half-miles.
MINI VAN DEMO DERBY: A field of ten mini-vans competed at 9:30 on a watered section of the third-mile track start/finish infield. All drivers were enduro sedan racing veterans and all used colorful nicknames. They mounted a metal tank with four gallons of gas within the vans to avoid fires. Smashing and bashing lasted 15-minutes. The last van running was the winner. Event organizer Robert Rice, “the master of mayhem” outlasted “Rockin’” Rodney Argo for the victory. “Soccer mom” Bailey Maywald was third. A ten-minute aerial fireworks show over the darkened speedway took place from 9:48 to 9:58 and spectators departed shortly before 10 pm.