MADERA, CALIFORNIA (October 7, 2023) – Derek Thorn of Bakersfield added another marquee win to his storied career, taking controls of the No. 16 Pro Late Model in a race-day decision and decisively winning the 11th annual $10,000-to-win Short Track Shootout at Madera Speedway. The MAVTV-televised 150-lap contest also served as the championship race for the Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Models, with Tyler Herzog of Fresno persevering to win the title. Photos by Ethan Smith
“Mike and Monica Hensley gave me an amazing opportunity today,” Derek Thorn said. “That last caution (was a surprise). I didn’t want that one at all. At the end of the day we survived. I’ve always been on the other side of the wall, to finally to get my first start in this race and get my first win as well is pretty cool.”
Former Lucas Oil Modified winner at the track Linny White of Colton led time trails before Las Vegas’ Justin Johnson won the $1,000-to-win B-Main to set the grid for the feature. Thorn lined up third behind Loomis’ Kenna Mitchell and White. Thorn drove the No. 16 in place of Mike Hensley who is suffering from shoulder issues and was unable to attempt the 150-lap distance. 2023 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model champion Vito Cancilla of Martinez was unable to start the feature, with 25-cars ready to battle.
White drove around the outside of Mitchell to lead lap one and Thorn drove into second shortly after. Thorn drove inside White for the lead but White held the position around the outside on lap 17. The first caution flew on lap 20 for Eric Nascimento and Chase Hand colliding in turn one.
Two-time defending Short Track Shootout winner Kyle Keller of Las Vegas tried the outside of Thorn for second on the restart before a caution on lap 27. Thorn made the bottom work on the restart, storming past White to lead lap 32.
Keller drifted backwards to fifth on the inside line. The caution flew again on lap 63 for two cars spinning in turn two in front of the leaders. Mitchell was the latest car to suffer on the inside line during the ensuing restart. Madera Late Model champion Jason Aguirre tangled hard with Henk Gaalswyk, Jr. of Ripon and Glen Cook of Mariposa for a caution flag on lap 74.
Two-time All American Speedway champion Dylan Zampa of Napa used the outside on the restart to sail past White for second. Thorn led Zampa, White, Keller, and ninth row starter Blaine Rocha of Oakdale into the lap 100 break for adjustments and MAVTV interviews.
Thorn held the lead on the restart while White tried to squeeze into the top lane. Ross Strmiska slowed to avoid contact, instead collecting his teammate Rocha. Strmiska spun across the speedway in turn four after contact, gathering up multiple cars including the championship leaders Herzog and Idaho’s Jacob Smith. Mitchell and Hand were eliminated as was Legends standout Henry Barton of San Fransisco. Smith and Herzog both returned to the race, with Smith’s crew making extensive repairs to his radiator to rejoin.
Stockton champion JoJo Stearns pounded the backstretch wall on lap 122. White continued to slip on the following restart, falling back to sixth. Cook and Joe Hylton tangled in turn two for the race’s last caution on lap 141. Thorn held steady over the final nine laps, topping Zampa, a resurgent Rocha, White, and Keller. Herzog survived to finish tenth, wrapping up the 2023 Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Model championship as well.
“I really have no words. I couldn’t do it without my whole pit crew,” Herzog said in an emotional interview. “It was tough but it wouldn’t be possible without all these people. Thank you to Jacob Smith for driving me clean. That was very respectful by him.”
12-year-old Vito Cancilla wrapped up the 2023 51FIFTY Jr. Late Model Series championship for drivers ages 10-16 years old, just six days after his twelfth birthday.
Bakersfield’s Taylor Mayhew topped qualifying and started on the pole in search of his second win of the year in a 70-lap contest. Cancilla, the seven-time winner this season, found himself mired in sixth early in the race.
Cancilla edged forward, advancing to third by lap 19. Cancilla then passed both Joey Kennealy of Madera and San Antonio’s Tristan Pena to move into second. A caution on lap 37 set up a three-lap run to the finish of the first half with Mayhew leading Cancilla, Kennealy, Pena, and Jacob Ryan of Livermore into the break.
Mayhew and Cancilla tangled for the lead in the second segment, however, colliding on lap 46 in turn three to send Mayhew for a spin. They also collided again under caution, ending both of their evenings early with damage.
The fracas thrust Kennealy into the lead. Kennealy motored ahead of a close match for second between Pena, Ryan, and Jace Hale. A caution on lap 67 for Mia Wright of Reno, Nevada spinning did not deter Kennealy. He joined his brother Robbie for the third consecutive season-finale in the division won by the Kennealy family, earning the coveted win. Pena, Hale, Ryan, and Wright rounded out the top-five.
Henry Barton closed out the 2023 INEX Legends Tour Series overall championship while Upper Lake’s Jeremy Doss won his fourth feature of the year in a 40-lap duel. Doss battled with Bakersfield’s David Mayhew for the season ending win.
Mayhew passed his son Taylor at the start of the feature. Mayhew, Barton, and Doss went three-wide for the lead but Mayhew held the spot. Doss then took over on lap seven on the inside. Mayhew drove back to Doss, taking the lead on lap 32 using the inside line. Doss was committed to the outside line and used it to retake the position for the final time on lap 35. Doss topped Mayhew, Barton, Taylor Mayhew, and Bakersfield’s Eddie Garone.
Kaine Bettancourt won the INEX Bandolero championship in style by also winning the 20-lap feature. Bettancourt faced his stiffest competition of the season in a side-by-side race with Las Vegas’ Kellen Keller. Keller spun coming to the checkered flag, allowing Betancourt to prevail. Keller and Andrew Williams rounded out the finishers.
Madera Speedway’s stock car season concludes in a big way on October 21 with the 51FIFTY Jr. Homecoming ARCA 150 presented by the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame. The race marks the return of the NASCAR-sanctioned West Series for the first time since 2009. Lunkerdaddy Pro Late Models, 51FIFTY Jr. Late Models, and MSTs will all compete in non-points action as well. Tickets go on sale this week on www.RaceMadera.com
For more information about the Madera Speedway including how to advertise with a race team on MAVTV please visit www.racemadera.com or call the race office at 209-356-1968.
The 2023 season would not be possible without the support of Lunkerdaddy Fishing Lures, 51FIFTY LTM, Mission Foods, 805 Beer, Race 2B Drug Free, Competition Carburetion, Hoosier Tires, and Sunoco Race Fuel.
Madera Racing on MAVTV airs Monday nights at 5:00pm Pacific and 8:00pm Eastern.
2023 MADERA MAVTV LATE MODEL SCHEDULE
March 18 – $5,000-to-win
May 20 – Military Tribute Night
June 24 – Reverend Ron Spencer Red, White Blue Classic
July 22 – $5,000-to-win
October 7 – $10,000-to-win Short Track Shootout