LAS VEGAS – In a race for the ages, Derek Thorn emerged victorious at the Senator’s Cup Fall Classic on Saturday at The Bullring at Las Vegas.
The Bakersfield, Calif., driver went back and forth with Jeremy Doss after a re-start with five laps remaining and won the Super Late Models 150 in thrilling fashion by just .607 of a second. The drivers – neither of whom are strangers to the Winner’s Circle at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway short track – traded the lead multiple times in the closing laps before Thorn crossed the line just ahead of Doss for the checkered flag.
U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) was on-hand to present the $15,000 winner’s check to Thorn, who also won at The Bullring as recently as May 20. Thorn was relieved and elated after the tense battle with Doss, which was amplified after a pair of cautions with 12 and five laps remaining.
“This one feels good,” Thorn said while holding the gold Senator’s Cup. “There are probably some f-bombs coming from a couple guys, but we didn’t come here to make friends. (Doss) set the precedent early on in the first few laps when he used me up when he didn’t need to, and that’s one of those things you keep in the back of your mind.
“We didn’t have a chance, but with 10 or so to go, we got that caution and I was as excited as heck. We worked hard for this, and it just happened to work out in our favor.”
Doss was looking to make it three Super Late Models wins in a row at The Bullring after sweeping a doubleheader on Sept. 23, but had to settle for second. Linny White came into the race looking for a three-peat after winning each of the last two years, but had engine trouble on lap 64 and finished 18th.
Jeff Bischofberger was third, Gracin Raz fourth and Las Vegas native and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie Noah Gragson rounded out the top five.
Neil Schneider’s long trip to The Bullring was a memorable one for the Canadian. Schneider, who hails from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, took over the race lead midway through the 50-lap Super Stocks race and held off California’s Howard Holden by .313 of a second to earn his way to the Winner’s Circle at the LVMS short track.
“It’s truly amazing,” Schneider said. “This is such a phenomenal race track to come to, and we’re lucky enough that we get to travel here and there. This is one track we just love, and it was clean racing and was fun. Who doesn’t want to come to Vegas?”
Las Vegas’ Kyle Jacks held off a host of challengers in the NASCAR Bombers 20-lap breakout race and avoided any penalties to take the checkered flag. Jacks broke the 20-second barrier in the heat race earlier in the night while leading and was served with a stop-and-go penalty, but avoided the same fate in the feature and crossed the line .263 of a second ahead of Kirk Hance.
Bullring regular Jesse Love – who also competed in the Bandoleros race and the Jr. Late Models feature on Friday – out-dueled the Breidinger sisters for the second consecutive year in the USAC HPD Midgets 30-lap feature. Love passed Annie Breidinger on the final lap to cross the line .334 of a second ahead of her and her twin sister, Toni, to take home the hardware.
“Really, it was just an amazing weekend,” Love said. “Toward lap 10, we started working on the high side, and it started cooking more and more. It feels great to be back in Victory Lane, and this race is dedicated to Dustin Edge who’s in the Air Force and is getting deployed. This one’s for him.”
Zach St. Onge kept his Bullring winning streak going by easily taking the 50-lap South West Tour Trucks/Pro Trucks feature. St. Onge won for the second night in a row, crossing the line 3.151 seconds ahead of Gary Howard.
“This makes it 10 in a row here in Vegas,” St. Onge said. “I’m blessed, and when I’m old enough to gamble, I’m going to come here. I have really good luck here, I don’t know what it is.
“I love this track.”
Cody Kiemele kept up his winning ways at The Bullring, taking the checkered flag for the seventh time in 2017 in the Bandoleros 20-lap race. Kiemele stayed focused through a number of re-starts to make his way to the Winner’s Circle yet again.
“I’ve always wanted to win this,” said Kiemele, 11. “The car doesn’t go right away, so I was just focused on getting it into Turn 1 and I’m good from there. It’s just been amazing.”