BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Bakersfield’s Derek Thorn outmatched Palmdale’s Race Liberante in the thrilling return of NASCAR Pro Late Models to Kern County Raceway Park on Saturday night, before a crowd of 2,000.
NASCAR Spec-Mods and NASCAR Mini Stocks were also in action in the all-stockcar show at the brand-new half-mile and quarter-mile speedways.
Liberante set the stage for the duel by taking fast-time and winning the trophy dash, both ahead of Thorn. The Pro Late Model feature was spread out over a pair of 40 lap segments, with Thorn taking his time navigating through the field.
Dan Holtz led the opening three laps, with the start of the race puncuated by Bailey Thompson tagging the backstretch wall head-on. Holtz’ teammate Kevin Thompson assumed the top position over the next 15 laps with Tim Smith and Thorn in tow in a hotly contested battle.
Smith got hung up with lapped traffic and fell to fourth, and moments later both Thorn and Liberante went past Holtz for the top two positions. Thorn finished five car lengths ahead of Liberante at the lap 40 break.
Coming out of the break, Thorn and Liberante went side-by-side with sparks flying from low tire pressures in a visually spectacular battle. Liberante overhauled the No. 43 of Thorn on lap 43 and fought off numerous advances from Thorn.