Being in the right place at the right time never hurts.
Just ask Derek Thorn, who capitalized on a late break to pass into the lead on his way to winning the Northern Tour 100 Super Late Model feature race at Champion Speedway on Saturday night.
Thorn slipped through lapped traffic, and past front-running Josh Bews, on Lap 97 and went on to win an exciting race that saw eight lead changes. It the 19-year-old Lakeport, Calif., driver's first North State Challenge Series victory.
"It's pretty cool," Thorn said. "It was tough for Bews, but I've been in the lead a couple of times and got taken out. I just happened to be lucky enough to win tonight.
"I just want to thank my crew for making this possible," added Thorn, the Modified track champion at Shasta Speedway in 2004.
Bews, of Roseville, Calif., had taken the lead on Lap 73 and appeared to have a safe lead until he came up on the lapped cars of Randy Hvall and Junior Roddy with five laps to go.
"We had a good lead with 10 laps to go. I thought I was home free, to be honest," Bews said. "I was coming up on the two cars when the 41 car (Roddy) caught the 35 (Hvall) and they started racing side-by-side."
They didn't get out of his way and the delay was enough to allow Thorn to challenge for the lead on the 97th lap. Bews stepped up high, behind Roddy. Thorn stayed low, behind Hvall going into Turn 3. And when the pack came around the turn, Thorn emerged as the new leader.
"It looked like the 41 car was going to pass, so I went high to follow him. But then the 35 passed ... and he (Thorn) ended up following through," said Bews, who has two second-place finishes this season, but is still looking for his first win. "But give him (Thorn) credit. He's been real close a couple to winning a couple of times and then had some bad luck, so he deserves this.
"I was disappointed because we had a real fast car. This was our first fast time of the year (13.05). We ran with the same setup we did last week (in Ukiah). We didn't do well there, but tonight, we just rolled the car out of the trailer and it was fast from the get-go."
There was plenty of excitement earlier in the race when the lead changed hands four times as Binns and Doss - front-runners in the tour's driver points standings - dueled back and forth for 60 laps before the two cars came together in front of the grandstand at the start of Lap 73. Binns maintained his lead, while Doss dropped back to 10th-place, but two laps later Binns veered high coming out of Turn 1 and Bews passed into the lead.
"My brake pedal went to the floor," Binns said. "I must have just gotten some air in it because I pumped them back up and by the time I got to the other end, they were OK."
But then Binns was involved in a multi-car collision that brought out the yellow flag and sent him to the back.
Both drivers recovered, and at the finish, Doss was third and Binns fourth. Meanwhile, Carson City's C.J. Bawden persevered to finish sixth on a night when only seven drivers out of an original field of 16 went the distance.
"We made the wrong call on the chassis when we went out there," Bawden said. "But I can't complain. We did finish and we made it one piece. Now, I'm looking forward to going up to Eureka next week and I'm looking forward to coming back here (the next North Tour race at Champion on Aug. 20)."
LATE MODEL SPORTSMEN
Joel Worley survived a collision with four laps to go - maintained his lead at the same time - and went on to win the 30-lap main event.
Worley passed Vince Malone on Lap 13 and stayed out front virtually unchallenged until Melissa made a move at the start of Lap 26. Davis tried the inside, but clipped Worley in Turn 1 to bring out the first yellow flag of the race. Davis was sent to the back of the pack, but Worley maintained his lead in a decision from the chief steward, then went on to hold off Chet Danburg for his second main event victory this season.
Danburg finished second and Matt Collier third. Earlier, Collier finished second behind Malone in the trophy dash and then held off a late charge from Al Goss to win his heat race.
n Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or call 881-1220.
North State Challenge Tour
Main event: (100 laps) 1, Derek Thorn; 2, Josh Bews; 3, Mike Doss; 4, Bill Binns; 5, Jeremy Hopkins; 6, C.J. Bawden; 7, Darin Snider; 8, Randy Hvall (99 laps); 9, Junior Roddy (97 laps); 10, Randy Hedrick (75 laps); 11, Angelo Queirolo (74 laps); 12, Ken Scales (73 laps); 13, Jimmy Stillman (45 laps); 14, Jerry Allec Jr. (23 laps); 15, Randy Houston (19 laps); 16, Billy Butler (6 laps). Yellow: 6.
Dash for cash: 1, Doss; 2, Roddy; 3, Thorn; 4, Bews; 5, Binns; 6, Houston.
Late Model Sportsman
Main event: (30 laps) 1, Joel Worley; 2, Chet Danburg; 3, Matt Collier; 4, Al Goss; 5, Ed Goss; 6, Melissa Davis; 7, Kris Keller; 8, Vince Malone; 9, William Thompson. Yellow: 1.
Trophy dash: 1, Malone; 2, Collier; 3, Danburg; 4, Davis; 5, Worley; 6, A. Goss.
First heat race: 1, Worley; 2, Malone; 3, Davis; 4, Keller; 5, Thompson.
Second heat race: 1, Collier; 2, A. Goss; 3, Danburg; 4, E. Goss.