When the ASA STARS National Tour heads to North Wilkesboro Speedway on Tuesday, May 16 for the ECMD 150, it will once again be Derek Thorn’s turn behind the wheel of the Shafer Motorsports No.7.
The California driver contested the season-opener at Five Flags Speedway in March, but a mid-race incident took him out of contention. He returns to the series and the team for what will be one of the biggest Super Late Model races in 2023.
“I’m excited to have a chance to go back there with Shafer Motorsports and Chris Purdy. It’s a track I’ve never seen but (Purdy) was able to go there a decade ago,” said Thorn. “To go to a racetrack with so much history and an entry list with 55 cars and some pretty big names on that list, I think it’s really close to looking like a Snowball Derby entry list. It’s neat to go and race against guys that good at a track with so much history.”
Shafer Motorsports have swept Go Fas Racing Pole Awards so far this season, with Thorn setting fast time at Five Flags and Paul Shafer Jr. being quick qualifier at Madison International Speedway last weekend. With the No.7 has been fast no matter where the series is at or who’s been in the car, the results have not been there due to misfortune during both main events.
With his second race with the team looming in just a few days in North Carolina, Thorn is looking forward to what the future holds.
“Pauly Shafer and Purdy had a heck of a run going at Madison. They had a great racecar, set fast time but the day got cut short with a mechanical failure midway through the race running in the top-five. Pauly’s been really fun to work with. I think our driving styles are similar and his feedback’s really great. It’s good for growth for our team. We’re going to some tracks where we don’t have a huge notebook on, but when you’ve got Pauly giving good feedback and working through some things at his races, and me working with Purdy trying to do the same thing for us. I think it’s about taking it one step at a time and making the equipment as good as possible.
After two years of setting records for most laps led but finishing second, Thorn broke through in December 2022 with his first Snowball Derby win. In that race, he broke the lap leader record once again, leading 312 of the 318 laps contested that afternoon. The scheduled distance for the race was only 300 laps.
After car owner Byron Campbell stepped away following that Snowball Derby win, Thorn went to work helping out other drivers on the West Coast, from fielding a car for ARCA Menards Series West driver Sean Hingorani to aiding young guns and established stars alike at the racetrack.
“It was a huge sigh of relief. Mike Keen and Byron Campbell, we had been together as a team for over a decade and we’d been trying the Derby for about seven or eight years. To finally have it all come together for Byron’s last race owning the team, it was a special moment, almost like a walk-off home run.
“Business has been good with Derek Thorn Racing. We’ve got a lot of customers on the West Coast. I haven’t been doing any driving on the West Coast but it’s been really fun getting to work with Jacob Gomes and John Moore, Jake Bollman, Sean Hingorani, and developing the DTR brand and rental program and helping customers out here be better. It’s a different role but the Snowball Derby win is always going to be the pinnacle of my career, especially after spending so many years being so close. To have that win is a huge sigh of relief and a huge accomplishment you can hold onto forever.”
The ECMD 150 will be just a single-day show, giving teams the challenge of limited practice time with a large field of cars entered. After the speed shown by the team during the first two races, Thorn is ready for what North Wilkesboro has to offer.
“North Wilkesboro’s going to be really difficult with so limited practice and so many cars. You’ve got to get through tech, get your tires mounted and get on track. You’ve got limited time to make the car as good as possible against some pretty good teams. Going into it, I’m really happy with the direction we’re going and how much speed we’ve had so far this season.”
Single-day general admission tickets for the May 16 ASA Stars ECMD 150 are $30 and available at www.northwilkesborospeedway.com. Children six and under are admitted free. Advance parking is also available for purchase online. Fans can connect with North Wilkesboro Speedway and get the latest news regarding NASCAR All-Star week and North Wilkesboro Speedway by following on Twitter and Instagram or becoming a Facebook fan.
The ASA STARS National Tour opened the ten race, six-state schedule at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL on March 11. Georgia racer Casey Roderick won the Sunshine State 200. Ty Majeski is the most recent winner with the series, taking the win at Madison International Speedway on May 7.
The ECMD 150 will be co-sanctioned with the ASA Southern Super Series, which will be the third race of the ASA SSS season. William Byron and Casey Roderick won the first two races at New Smyrna Speedway and Five Flags Speedway.
For more information regarding the Southern Super Series, visit the series website at www.southernsuperseries.com. Follow us on Facebook at Southern Super Series, on Twitter at @SoSuperSeries, and on Instagram at @officialsouthernsuperseries.
For the full ASA STARS National Tour schedule, plus Super Late Model rules and other information, please visit the series website at starsnationaltour.com, or be sure to follow the series on social media (Facebook: STARS National Series | Twitter: @racewithstars | IG: @starsnational).
ASA STARS National Tour
The ASA STARS National Tour debuted in March of 2023 for Super Late Model racing in America. Announced last October, many of the best drivers in America will compete in the ten-race national tour with a minimum $100,000 point fund. The championship team will be guaranteed $25,000.
The ASA STARS National Tour is made up of three races from each of the regional pavement Super Late Model Series under the Track Enterprises banner; the ASA CRA Super Series, the ASA Midwest Tour and the ASA Southern Super Series.
The Team Construction Winner’s Circle program has been announced as a part of the ASA STARS National Tour for licensed drivers/teams with perfect attendance. The program provides additional financial incentives to those teams who support the Series, thanks to Team Construction.
Track Enterprises, a Racing Promotions Company based in Illinois, will operate the ASA STARS National Tour. It announced the acquisition of the CRA sanctioning body in January and followed that up with the purchase of the Midwest Tour in July. In October, Track Enterprises President, Bob Sargent announced a partnership with the Southern Super Series which set the table for the formation of the ASA STARS National Tour.