Thunder Road welcomes the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) to the Barre high banks this Sunday, September 3 for the 39th Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic 200. The longest race on both the ACT Late Model Tour and Thunder Road schedules will make for a test of man and machine on the quarter-mile oval.
Four-time and defending Labor Day Classic champion Nick Sweet of Barre will return on Sunday for just his second Thunder Road Late Model outing of the season. The two-time “King of the Road” will take on the other top drivers of the Northeast in his bid for an unprecedented fourth straight Labor Day victory.
“I’m really going into this race with no high expectations, honestly,” Sweet said. “It’s Thunder Road, but it’s not the Thunder Road I once knew. It’s different – not in any bad way, just different. It’s got newer asphalt, different cars…there’s a lot of variables that make it a new challenge. We’ll see how good we are when we hit the track in practice. I haven’t been in the seat much this summer, and being rusty is not going to help me!”
Sunday marks the second ACT visit of the year to Thunder Road as well as the return of the Labor Day Classic to the Tour schedule after a three-year hiatus. The eighth event on the nine-race ACT series comes as both the series and track championship battles are going down to the wire.
The 2017 ACT title chase has closed up considerably in recent weeks. Milton’s Scott Payea jumped out to a huge lead on the back of a record-setting four straight victories earlier in the season, but Waterford, Conn.’s Dillon Moltz used his second win of the year at White Mountain Motorsports Park on August 19 to cut the deficit to 28 points.
Leading ACT rookie Jason Corliss of Barre, who is also a three-time winner at Thunder Road in 2017, leads a tight fight for third with Williamstown’s Jimmy Hebert and Lebanon, N.H.’s Rich Dubeau. All five drivers are expected on Sunday, along with Tour regulars such as multi-time Devil’s Bowl Speedway Champion Josh Masterson, Maine standout Rowland Robinson, Jr., and local veteran Mike Ziter.
Although the event does not count for Thunder Road Late Model points, many top locals will be in attendance. Thunder Road point leader Bobby Therrien of Hinesburg, recent feature winner Tyler Cahoon of Danville, and Fayston’s Brooks Clark have all filed entries, while defending “King of the Road” Scott Dragon of Milton has a full-season ACT entry on record.
The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, Allen Lumber Street Stocks, and Burnett Scrap Metal Road Warriors will join the ACT Late Model Tour on the card. The Flying Tigers and Street Stocks have just two point-counting events remaining with their championships up for grabs. The Road Warriors have been growing in both cars and thrills since their debut and they are expected to continue both trends on Sunday.
Jason Woodard of Waterbury Center continues to show the way in the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tiger ranks. The 2014 Champion has opened up a 22-point gap over 2015 Champion Brendan Moodie of Wolcott. 1991 “King of the Road” Dwayne Lanphear of Morrisville sits in third 59 points behind Woodard while Hinesburg’s Trevor Lyman is in fourth 64 points back. Craftsbury Common’s Mike Martin rounds out the top five.
The Allen Lumber Street Stocks have six drivers within 26 points of the top spot, making the 2017 championship anyone’s guess. Sophomore competitor Cooper Bouchard of Hinesburg is four points ahead of a tie between 2015 Champion Jamie Davis of Wolcott and veteran Alan Maynard of Fairfax. Sixteen-year-old Kelsea Woodard of Waterbury Center rides 20 points back in fourth place and is looking to become the youngest division champion in Thunder Road history. Lyndonville’s Dean Switser Jr. and Morrisville’s Brandon Lanphear are also in the hunt.
Qualifying for the 39th Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic goes to post at 1:00pm this Sunday, September 3. The pits will open at 8:00am and the front gates will open at 10:00am. Admission is $25 for adults and free for kids ages 12 and under.