Barre’s Thunder Road kicks off the 2017 season this Sunday, May 28 with the 55th Memorial Day Classic presented by Mekkelsen RV Sales & Rental. The event will begin the title chases for all three weekly divisions at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement,” with the Thunder Road Late Models, Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, and Allen Lumber Street Stocks joining the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Models on the card.
Defending “King of the Road” Scott Dragon will be back to look for a second straight Late Model title after taking the crown by a single point in 2016. The Milton veteran enters his fourth season with Richard Green Racing knowing he’ll face tough challenges from both the competition and the newly-repaved track surface.
“I think the car is going to go well on that new asphalt,” Dragon said. “It was really fast on the ‘goop’, so I’m thinking it should be good on the fresh pavement. It’s really a matter of trying to stay out of trouble. I’ve always said staying out of trouble is the key to winning championships. You can run great, but if you get tangled up in someone else’s mess, it’s over. There are so many drivers who can contend, so we’re just trying to keep the pressure off and do our thing.”
“The new asphalt is definitely going to change things,” he added. “I think everybody knows that. The high line that I’ve stuck to for the last few years isn’t going to be there – I’m going to be searching around just like everyone else. A lot of us were running that really high line and leaving the middle wide open, and you’re not going to be able to do that anymore. As soon as that middle opens up now, someone’s going to be driving in there.”
A host of fellow competitors are ready to lay claim to the throne. Barre’s Jason Corliss finished third in the 2016 standings and will chase both the Thunder Road and American-Canadian Tour titles. Young standouts Kyle Pembroke of Montpelier and Cody Blake of Barre are prepared for the next step, while South Burlington’s Trampas Demers is a perennial contender. Defending Memorial Day Classic winner Tyler Cahoon is ready for loftier goals in his second full season at Thunder Road. Eric Badore, Shawn Fleury, and Matt White also return after winning races in 2016.
The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers entered last year’s season finale with five drivers alive for the title and could so the same in 2017. Wolcott’s Brendan Moodie looks to reclaim the gold after missing out on a second straight championship by one point. Fellow former champions Jason Woodard of Waterbury Ctr. and Joe Steffen of Grand Isle will be in the hunt as well. Barre’s Cameron Ouellette and Craftsbury Common’s Mike Martin look to put it all together after winning three races each in 2016, while defending Allen Lumber Street Stock Champion Jamon Perry leads a large rookie class.
The Street Stocks again have a mix of wise veterans and bright youngsters ready to do battle. Multiple former titlists such as Wolcott’s Jamie Davis, Williamstown’s Tommy “Thunder” Smith, East Hardwick’s Bunker Hodgdon, and Tunbridge’s Gary Mullen have registered for the season. Other experienced hands such as Fairfax’s Alan Maynard, Lincoln’s Gary Bashaw, and Essex Jct.’s Matthew Smith look to join them as champions. Most of the strong 2016 rookie class has also returned, including Rookie of the Year Brandon Lanphear and two-time winner Peyton Lanphear.
These drivers and many more will be on hand to open the 58th season of competition at Barre’s Thunder Road this Sunday, May 28 at 1:00pm. The 55th Memorial Day Classic presented by Mekkelsen RV Sales & Rental will be highlighted by 150 laps for the PASS North Super Late Models and 100 laps for the Thunder Road Late Models. Admission is $25 for adults and free for kids age 12 and under. An open practice for all divisions is scheduled for Saturday, May 27 with Class Day ceremonies set for 12:20pm on Sunday.