On Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West's season ended with Derek Thorn winning the championship and Gray Gaulding becoming the youngest winner in series history. At 15 years, 8 months and 30 days Gaulding made contact with Cole Custer on the final lap in Turn 3 which spun Custer out and allowed Gaulding to slip by for the victory.
Meanwhile, Derek Thorn, who entered the Casino Arizona 50 with a 16-point lead in the championship standings ended up winning his first career K&N West championship at the age of 27 by just six points after finishing 15th. Cameron Hayley used a third place finish to finish second in the points. Greg Pursley ended up finishing 14th and third in the standings.
“We put together an awesome season for ourselves,” Thorn said of the Sunrise Ford Racing team of Bob Bruncati. “We weren’t always the fastest. We were a model of consistency. We always put together good, solid, strong runs – and to win a championship, that’s exactly what you’ve got to do."
Thorn had three wins, 12 top fives, and 14 top tens in the 15 K&N Pro Series West races in 2013 with Saturday night's race at Phoenix being the only one that did not end in a top ten.
A competitive field of 31 cars lined up for the race which went under a red flag for cleanup of a lap 1 crash. The only other caution came out on lap 27 of 50 for a spin by Shane Golobic. Custer, who started from the pole, led all but the final lap. He ended up finishing sixth after the spin due to contact from Gaulding.
"I knew in the back of my head that it was time to win this and it was my shot," Gaulding said. "Unfortunately, I just barely touched him, but at this track, that is all it takes and you are going around.”
Finishing second was Jesse Little with Hayley in third. David Mayhew finished fourth with Brandon McReynolds fifth, Custer sixth, Kelly Admiraal seventh, Brett Thompson eighth, Michael Self ninth, and Taylor Cuzick tenth.
The final points standings were Thorn in first, Hayley second, Pursley third, Self fourth, and Dylan Lupton fifth. Lupton also won the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the series this season even after finishing in 28th Saturday night.
The Casino Arizona 50 from Phoenix International Raceway can be seen at 11 a.m. ET on November 17th on Fox Sports 2.
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