SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — He came, he saw, he conquered, he avenged.
Ryan Partridge, flexed his muscle, figuratively and literally, and dominated en route to the Sunrise Ford 150 presented by NAPA Auto Parts victory on Saturday evening at Orange Show Speedway, his fifth NASCAR K&N Pro Series West victory of his career and first this season.
— NASCAR Home Tracks (@NASCARHomeTrack) May 20, 2018
He also avenged his frustrating 2016 loss at this track, where he led 137 laps from the pole to see a sure win fall out of his hands due to a mishap with a lapped car down the stretch.
This time, he made sure he’d claim his checkered flag. Starting from the pole, the Rancho Cucamonga, California, native led the first 37 circuits before Derek Kraus was able to take the top spot away as the caution flag flew. Shortly thereafter, Partridge re-took the lead and never looked back, leading all the way to the finish.
“We let him lead for a couple laps,” Partridge said of his battle with Kraus. “(Then my) spotter came over the radio and said ‘I think it’s time to go,’ so we were able to wedge right by him and take the lead again. Probably the most nerve-racking moment of the race was when the No. 6 (Derek Thorn) got into the second position. He’s a veteran driver, he knows what he’s doing, and when he got up into the second position I knew it was time to go. Pedal down.”
“Thank god we didn’t have a restart after that when we really would’ve had to duke it out and take our gloves off. But man our Sunrise Ford Fusion was hooked up.”
Having finishes of fifth (Kern County), third (Tucson) and second (Tucson), it was only a matter of time before the 2016 series runners-up would find Victory Lane.
— Davey Segal (@DaveyCenter) May 20, 2018
Thorn, Partridge’s Sunrise Ford teammate and championship points leader entering Orange Show, was able to get by Kraus with 24 laps to go. The Lakeport, California, native and 2013 series champion tried to put the pressure on Partridge, but couldn’t seal the deal.
“I was kind of writing ourselves off mid portion (of the race),” Thorn said. “Car got really really tight on the long run. I was behind the No. 16 (Kraus) and the No. 99 (Rouse), and hats off to them for racing me clean. I raced them a little rougher than I probably should’ve there trying to get up through the field.”
Orange Show marks Thorn’s third second-place result this season (Kern County and Tuscon race No. 2). But despite the solid runs, he’s getting a bit impatient and frustrated with not breaking through.
“I’m not a big fan of being a bridesmaid this many times this year,” Thorn said. “Hopefully with this consistency comes some results, some wins. But from a team aspect, couldn’t ask for a better night.”
Cole Rouse tied his season-best finish of third when the checkered flag flew, but admitted he wanted more.
“I’n not mad about it, I’m not happy about it, I’m just kind of in between,” Rouse said. “I’m tired of third and second place finishes. I’m ready to get a win. I think we’ll have some shots later in this year, we just gotta get these cars turning a little better on these short tracks.”
Rouse’s Bill McAnally Racing teammates and newly minted NASCAR Next drivers Hailie Deegan (career-best finish) and Derek Kraus rounded out the top five.
Trevor Huddleston, Kody Vanderwal, Todd Souza, Nick Joanides and Matt Levin completed the top 10.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will take one week off before heading to Colorado National Speedway in Dacono, Colorado for the NAPA/Toyota 150 on Saturday, June 9.
The Sunrise Ford 150 presented by NAPA Auto Parts will air on NBCSN on Thursday, May 24 at 6 p.m. ET.