One month ago, Tanner Thorson made a dream come true with a win in a USAC National Midget win during the third round of the series’ Indiana Midget Week at Lincoln Park Speedway, a race that had hospitalized him a year earlier.
On Friday night, Thorson made another dream come true in Indiana, making his first asphalt late model start in the ARCA/CRA Super Series Circle City 100 at Lucas Oil Raceway.
The day didn’t start well for Thorson, with a poor qualifying effort resulting in a 24th-place start, but the dirt-track ace adapted over the race’s 100 laps to surprise with a 10th-place result for David Gilliland Racing.
“It was awesome — pretty sweet,” Thorson said of his first asphalt start. “I know we didn’t get the greatest qualifying run. It was me. The car was perfect. We had to start at the back, which I think was better for me. There’s good people all the way through this whole race, so it definitely helped.”
While he managed to keep his No. 97 CSX/TRD Toyota clean for the majority of the race, a bump from Tyler Ankrum shortly past the midway point of the race gave Nevada’s Thorson a challenge.
“We got racing there and I got in the wall a little bit, kind of had to bring some of the dirt track moves back in. I was pretty sideways, and it doesn’t feel too good in one of these things,” Thorson said. “The biggest challenge is letting the car roll. You’ve gotta let these cars roll. I’m used to getting in sprint cars and midgets where you’re wide open through the turns, so that was probably the biggest challenge I faced.”
In all, the 20-year-old was appreciative of his team’s effort as he adapted to a new racing surface.
“TRD, Toyota, David Gilliland Racing… They’ve got a lot of respect for me and were able to get me into one of these. I just can’t thank them enough,” Thorson said. “They definitely made a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to run on asphalt. It’s a little bit of a transition, but all in all it’s pretty good.
“I’m really happy with a 10th-place finish. I had no idea what DGR and I were getting myself into coming into here. Derek Smith (crew chief) and Austin Reed (DGR driver development) worked a lot with me to get the car more comfortable seat and setup-wise. They probably had to work a little bit harder for me than some guys in the past. I just can’t thank them enough. They definitely made it worth it.”
Thorson will get two more opportunities to learn and improve with DGR. The 20-year-old confirmed to Short Track Scene that he’ll be competing in the CARS Tour races at Orange County Speedway (July 30) and Concord Speedway (Aug. 27).