Derek Thorn of Lakeport, Ca used a daring late race pass in turn seven to wrestle the lead from the series season point leader (Michael Self of Park City, Utah) to capture the win at the K & N Pro West Series Sonoma 200 on Saturday, June 21.
Of the local area racers that competed, Eric Holmes of Escalon in his No. 16 Napa Toyota Camary faired the best. After qualifying seventh, Holmes battled his way up to the fourth position before having a tire go down. This required an additional pit stop, but Holmes was still able to fight his way back to a strong ninth place finish.
Wes Brooks of Oakdale moved up from a 32nd starting position to finish 18th while Bobby Runyan of Denair and Carlos Vieira of Atwater finished 22nd and 32nd, respectively.
Thorn, who qualified third, came into the event sitting just one point behind the series point leader, with one in-season victory (Stockton 99). Self came into the event with a series high of 5 wins.
Thorn stayed close to Self in the later laps, looking for the best strategy to get around the leader. Both drivers used very similar pit strategies, so he knew he would need to carefully plan his move, if he was going to get around him (Self) on the tight Sonoma Wine County road course. With about 13 laps to go of the scheduled 64, Thorn made his move coming out of turn four. He was able to get to the inside line, as they headed towards turn seven, getting almost even with Self. As they entered seven, Thorn was able to out brake the leader and ride the inside rumble strip. As the two exited seven, their momentum carried them to the extreme outside line, which allowed Thorn to get in front of the series leader (Self). Sitting close behind this battle was Cameron Hayley of Canada. Hayley then battled with Self for the 2nd spot. While they fought for the position around the 1.99-mile course, Thorn was able to extend his lead. A couple of late cautions brought the field back together, but Thorn was able to get the better restart each time. A final caution caused the race to end with a green-white checker finish, which also extended the lap total from 64 to 66.
Oakdale Leader correspondents Mike and Jeff Burghardt contributed to this report.