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Snowball Derby

Derek Thorn drives through late Snowball Derby crash but sent to rear anyway

The pole sitter led the first 43 laps but faded incrementally throughout the evening …

Bruce Nuttleman | STS

Derek Thorn said from the start of the week that if he showed race winning speed in advance of the Snowball Derby, it would take even more speed to win the race.

Ultimately, the pole-winner arguably needed a little more speed and little bit of luck to have had a shot at victory lane on Monday in the rain-delayed Super Bowl of Short Track Racing.  Thorn led the first 43 laps before conceding to Jeff Choquette.

He spent much of the first half inside the top-five and parts of the second half in-and-out of the top-five. He was racing Bubba Pollard for sixth with 18 laps to go when the two came together in turns 3 and 4 – collecting Jesse Dutilly and Augie Grill.

The two disagreed over who slid up or who chopped down.

At this point, Thorn was forced to drive back from the tail-end of the lead lap and was third on the third row when the massive crash involving Ty Majeski that jammed up the entire field unfolded. Thorn ran into the back of Casey Roderick and received damage but was the second driver to get through the melee behind eventual flagged winner Stephen Nasse.

Race control sent Thorn to the rear, eliminating his chances to race Nasse for the win.

“I don’t know the right words for it,” a thoughtful Thorn said after the race, while chewing on m&m’s. “In short track racing, there is always the human element. It’s always their opinion and how they feel about it. The call that was made to be put behind (Cole Butcher) and (Dutilly) who were involved in that. Damage as well. It was a wreck that I kind of avoided, third row back on the inside. I got penalized for avoiding a wreck.

“I just don’t understand why I was sent to the rear. No one is perfect, so it’s fine. I just don’t get it.”

Race director Nicholas Rogers pointed to the rule book, which states that any driver involved in an incident goes to the rear. Thorn kept driving through it, but his hood was buckled from the contact with Roderick.

“Anyone involved in the caution who makes contact, speeds through an accident (scene) or is involved in the caution goes to the tail,” Rogers said. “It’s a black and white issue that has been done in many different series. Could that be looked-at moving forward? Maybe. Not saying it will be changed but that was a procedure that was written in the rule book a long time ago and it’s mostly worked.”

All told, it was a successful weekend for the 33-year-old, even if he came up short of the ultimate prize with his Campbell Motorsports entry.

“It is frustrating,” Thorn said. “I had a good car. I can’t thank these guys enough. Byron Campbell. We come here and win the pole, win the Snowflake (100) race. We weren’t perfect. We had some changes we needed to make. You have to be close to perfect to have a chance at the end. And we were there at the end.

“I got penalized in the Pollard deal, but I get that. It was one-on-one contact. In my opinion, he chopped me, but that’s racing. It’s still contact and still me being sent to the back. That last incident just was not the right call.”

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

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