Barre’s Thunder Road takes another giant step in the 2018 “King of the Road” chase this Thursday, August 16 at Premium Mortgage Night. Just two rounds remain in the fight for the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model title, and the multi-way battle could go in any direction over the coming two weeks.
Three veterans of the Late Model ranks remain very much alive in their pursuit of a track championship. South Burlington’s Trampas Demers sits atop the standing entering Thursday’s 50-lap main event. The longtime weekly racer jumped to the top of the heap with a victory two weeks ago and maintains a 13-point edge over Milton’s Scott Dragon. Barre’s Jason Corliss is 18 points behind Demers in third.
Each driver has something in their arsenal that could help them stand at the head of the class two weeks from now. Demers is known for his calculated consistency and ability to stay out trouble. Corliss has the speed to blow away the field on any given night. Dragon is the 2016 “King of the Road”, giving him the knowledge to help navigate the waters. But with all three drivers having thousands of laps on the Barre high banks, the outcome could come down to circumstance as much as speed or experience.
Outside of the top-3, Barre’s Cody Blake maintains a puncher’s chance at the title. Blake sits 47 points behind Demers. While the gap is not insurmountable, the Memorial Day Classic winner will enter Thursday’s event knowing he has to go for broke in order to gain ground.
Elsewhere in the standings, many drivers will be making the final push to finish their 2018 season strong. Barre’s Jim “Boomer” Morris and Christopher Pelkey sit fifth and sixth in the standings, respectively. They are trying to cap what has for both been the best season of their Late Model careers. Just 24 points separate 8th and 14th, meaning there will be a lot of dicing over the next two weeks to see who is invited to the postseason banquet stage.
The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, Allen Lumber Street Stocks, and Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors join the Late Models on Thursday’s card. A renaissance season for the Flying Tigers has also been a career year for Joel Hodgdon. The Craftsbury Common veteran wrapped up the Myers Container Service Triple Crown championship last Thursday with his third win of the season. He now has an 89-point lead over Grand Isle’s “Double O” Joe Steffen in the weekly standings with three point-counting events remaining.
Behind the lead pair, there is still much to be decided. Fifty points separate 3rd-place Cameron Ouellette of Barre from 10th-place Cooper Bouchard of Hinesburg. In between sits Morrisville rookie Brandon Lanphear, Craftsbury Common veteran Mike Martin, Waitsfield sophomore Kyle Streeter, and others who are all gunning for everything they can get.
In the Allen Lumber Street Stocks, Craftsbury Common’s Stephen Martin is threatening to break things open. The 16-year-old now has a 40-point lead over Barre’s Jeffrey Martin after his win last Thursday. Stephen Martin is aiming to become the youngest champion in track history. But Essex Jct.’s Matthew Smith, Derby’s Tim Hunt, and Middlesex’s Logan Power will all join Jeffrey Martin in trying to chase him back down over the next three events.
The action gets underway at 7:00pm on Premium Mortgage Night with the first round of qualifying. The pits open at 3:30pm and the front gates open at 5:15pm. Admission is $12 for adults, $3 for kids ages 6-12, and $25 for a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids).