article and photo by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher

Tanner Thorson has had an up and down year. It started with the biggest win of his career: The Chili Bowl, then came a full winged 410 schedule, which didn’t go to plan. A successful Pennsylvania Speedweek, then a new ride in the Demyan-Rudzik 49X, and finally, a trip to the Attica Raceway Park horse track after a convincing AFCS 410 win Friday night.

It would be Travis Philo and Tanner Thorson leading the field to the green flag for 30 lap and $4,000-to-win. Philo took the early advantage over Thorson, Craig Mintz, Kyle Capodice, and Lachlan McHugh and would gap Thorson by 1.519 seconds on the second lap. The gap stayed the same for the first five laps as Philo had a clear track in front of him.

On lap eight, Philo had reached lapped traffic with a 1.674 second lead, which is when his race took a turn. Philo nearly spun avoiding a lapped car, handing Thorson the lead while Philo rejoined in the runner-up spot. Thorson had a 1.074 second lead after the exchange of the lead. Thorson maintained about a one second lead over Philo and Mintz as he approached lap traffic on lap 13. Philo was able to cut into Thorson’s lead and whittle it down to .297 seconds. Philo was right with Thorson going into turns one and two and was determined to make a move for the lead, but the yellow flag would come out for Chris Andrews.

This put Thorson back in clean air on the restart, where he would pull away by 1.031 seconds over Philo at the halfway point. The gap extended to 1.816 seconds on lap 17 as Mintz was challenging for the second spot. Philo would be able to hold off Mintz and set his sights back on Thorson when the second yellow would come out for Darin Naida on lap 19, negating a 1.741 second lead for Thorson. 

The ensuing restart was marred by a nasty flip for Brian Smith, who would be ok. On the third restart of the race, Thorson jumped ahead of Philo and would hold a steady lead of about .8 seconds over Philo, as Thorson ripped the top and Philo rolled the bottom. With about five laps to go, Philo was making ground on the bottom, taking about a tenth of a second a lap out of Thorson’s lead. With a couple of laps remaining, Thorson also moved down to the bottom, and that’s all he needed to do to snag his first career Attica Raceway Park win, giving the Chili Bowl Champion some good momentum heading into Tuesday’s Brad Doty Classic at Attica. 

“I think this was my third time here, and it was a good one,” stated Thorson. “I got lucky as far as getting the lead so early. I was hoping I was going to be able to make a run for it at the end. I was lucky enough that Philo messed up a little bit there; he was setting a pretty good pace there for sure. It’s definitely better to be lucky sometimes than good.”

Thorson may not have the most experience at Attica, but he knew exactly what he needed to do to hold off two drivers who have their fair share of wins at the ⅓ mile oval. 

“You have to change up your starts- where you take off and try to trick them a little bit. Philo is obviously really good here, and so is Mintz. There’s a good group of locals here that are badass. I can’t thank BK and 5-0, Joe and Jeff Rudzik, Factory Kahne Shocks, Kistler Engines, everyone that’s involved with this program is pretty awesome.” 

As mentioned, the year started off with a Driller at the Chili Bowl, and it’s been a roller coaster path to end up on the Attica Raceway Park horse track just four days before the Brad Doty Classic:

“I’ve definitely had an up and down year. I started the year off with the biggest win of my career with the Chili Bowl, and haven’t had any real success after that. We ran good out in Pennsylvania the last couple weeks during PA Speedweek, and ran very bad at Lernerville with the All Stars. We came back tonight with a different mindset, we changed some stuff to get me more comfortable, and it helped,” concluded Thorson.