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Linny White Ends Derek Thorn’s SRL Win Streak at Four with Irwindale Victory

Spears Srl Southwest Tour
Sal Sigala Jr. Photo

Spears Srl Southwest Tour

Linny White became the first driver not named Derek Thorn to take home a win in the Spears Srl Southwest Tour Series in 2020. White used a long green flag run to his advantage, to bring home the $5,000 winner’s check in the “Spears Manufacturing 100 presented by Earnest Performance”, at Irwindale Speedway (CA) late Saturday afternoon. It was White’s third career SRL triumph, all at ½-miles, for the “Colton Cowboy”, an admitted fan of the series shorter tracks.

“I’m not changing my mind at all”, White smiled. “I feel like I run the best when I have time to work while in the race. I like long segments and am totally for no breaks. I do enjoy the short tracks more, because it usually creates a lot less separation between all the other racers, and to win you have to not only be up on the wheel, but have to be smart and patient. Who would I be kidding if I didn’t call out the obvious? I’m 42 years old, so I like to stay under 100 mph. Lol. Just kidding everyone.”

Spears Srl Southwest Tour Photo
Sal Sigala Jr. Photo

The day started off with 26 Super Late Models in the pit area. Dylan Lupton set the early stage, by turning in a 17.269 second lap, to win his third career Performance Friction Brakes Zero Drag Fast Time Award. All three of those occurrences have been at Irwindale Speedway, where he is also the Track Record holder. He was followed by Linny White, Jacob Gomes, Thorn and Kyle Neveau.

The series utilizes a redraw for each of the top eight qualifiers. Cale Kanke pulled the number one card with Gomes, Thorn, Neveau, Lupton, White, Trevor Huddleston and Jack Wood following, to set the line-up. Gomes got the quick start, from the outside line, to take the early lead. Three and four wide racing ensued behind Gomes, with Thorn advancing to second and Lupton to third before the one and only caution on lap 12, for contact between Andy Allen and Dean Thompson, ending Thompson’s day.

The restart found Thorn easing by Gomes for the lead, with the front trio in tight formation. On lap 25 Lupton was able to clear Gomes on the outside and take up the chase of Thorn. A few laps later, White would get by Gomes and the trio of Thorn, Lupton and White would battle for the top spot. After several laps of side by side action, White would get by Lupton on the bottom, and begin challenging Thorn in the same line. White would grab the lead on lap 40 in a three-wide move, but Lupton would clear White and Thorn in another three-wide encounter, to emerge with the lap 41 lead. The move earned Lupton the FLUIDYNE High Performance “Cool Move of the Race”.

Thorn began to fall back, as Lupton and White eased away from the field. Thorn would fall back as far as sixth by lap 52, in tire conservation mode, as Fabozzi, Huddleston and Neveau moved forward. The gap between Lupton and White would remain relatively consistent until around lap 75, when White began to close the 0.7 second gap. On lap 80, White reached Lupton’s back bumper and made the winning pass a lap later in lapped traffic. About the same time, Thorn began to close on the lead duo, dispatching of Neveau, Huddleston and Fabozzi by lap 83. He continued to close on Lupton, catching the Elk Grove, CA driver with three to go. Thorn would muscle his way by on lap 98, but would settle for second behind Linny White, and an end to his four-race win streak.

In scoring the win, White took 10 points out of Thorn’s championship lead. It was a hard-fought victory for White on a hot Saturday afternoon and he talked about the day’s effort in Victory Circle.

“The car was a little free, but the other guys were just a little more free than me, and they were getting tight in the center. I just kept digging and digging. My crew worked too hard for me this week, and I wasn’t going to give it up. I had to give it my all for them.”

White continued, “I gotta thank Earl Robbins for letting me drive this thing, as well as Swift Springs, Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse, and all my guys. It’s always great to beat Derek Thorn. This win is all for my guys. I’m just the lucky guy who gets to hold the steering wheel.”

Derek Thorn and Crew Chief Mike Keen entered the weekend with a strategy to get to Victory Lane. The plan would have worked perfectly, except for an unexpected 85-lap green flag run to the finish.

“We worked hard all weekend on getting the car good in the daytime”, Thorn stated. “We just needed a caution. What we planed worked, but without a caution at the end, we couldn’t battle the 99 (Linny White) at the end. The speed was there, the car was there, it just takes a little luck in racing sometimes, to finish up front. Today luck wasn’t there.”

Dylan Lupton had a great run and for a good portion of the race. For a while, it looked like he may get his first SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series victory, but the car was not as good during the race, as it was earlier in the day.

“To be honest, I’m pretty frustrated right now”, Lupton explained. “We are always so good in practice and qualifying, every time we come here, and it just doesn’t work out in the race. It is just a totally different race car every time we get the green. It is a trend for us, and it is frustrating. We will keep working hard and we will win one sometime. I can’t thank Fatal Clothing, Lupton Excavation, and all the crew guys for all their hard work. We will go back to the drawing board and figure out this thing.”

Perennial Hard Charger Keith Spangler, scored the Coleman Powersports Hard Charger Award, driving from 24th to 12th. Buddy Shepherd scored his second Rookie-of-the-Race Award by coming home sixth, and the Bryan’s Fastest Lap of the Race was turned by Jacob Gomes at 17.691

The drivers of the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series will now get a few weeks off before their August 15th event. Derek Thorn will take the championship lead into the next race, followed by Linny White and Eric Schmidt and Cole Moore, who are tied for third. Tyler Fabozzi has moved into the top-five with Carlos Vieira, Jacob Gomes, Kyle Neveau, John Moore and Scott Sanchez rounding out the top-10. The leading Rookie-of-the-Year contender, Joey Iest, sits 11th with Dylan Lupton joining the top dozen.

Official Results:
1. Linny White, 2. Derek Thorn, 3. Dylan Lupton, 4. Tyler Fabozzi, 5. Trevor Huddleston, 6. Buddy Shepherd*, 7. Cole Moore, 8. Jacob Gomes, 9. Christian McGhee, 10. Cale Kanke, 11. Kyle Neveau, 12. Keith Spangler, 13. Carlos Vieira, 14. Jack Wood, 15. Jonathan Mawhinney, 16. John Moore, 17. Eric Schmidt, 18. Nick Joanides, 19. Joey Iest* 20. Scott Sanchez, 21. Andy Allen, 22. Brandon Farrington*, 23. Tanner Reif*, 24. Jim Vermillion, 25. Dean Thompson*, 26. Barry Conoyer DNS.
*SPEARS Southwest Tour Series Rookie-of-the-Year Contender.

PC: Sal Sigala Jr.