The fight for the “King of the Road” title has come down to the final Thursday night event of the season — and it may come down to the final lap as well.
Thunder Road’s 2018 Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model champion will be crowned Thursday, August 23 on Jet Service Envelope/Accura Printing Night. Scott Dragon, Jason Corliss, and Trampas Demers sit just 10 points apart in what has been one of the most compelling championship battles during the track’s 59-year history. Each will be going all-out to take home the title for themselves and for their team.
Milton’s Dragon, the 2016 “King of the Road”, gained the advantage last Thursday night. Dragon used a 4th-place finish to grab the point lead by nine over Corliss. Demers sits third, 10 points behind Dragon, after he encountered tire problems early Thursday and was relegated to 14th at the finish. Fourth-place Cody Blake remains mathematically alive at 41 points back, but needs a miracle to claim the title.
In what is effectively a one-race “playoff” for the championship, it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top. The three main contenders have combined for six feature wins this season, showing each has the speed to get to the front. The 65-lap main event scheduled for Thursday means they will have the time to do so as well. But with the margins so small, every trip around the high banks will matter, from the first lap of qualifying to the final lap of the feature.
The other battle on Thursday will be to determine who else finishes in the top-10 in Late Model points. The top four are the only ones who have clinched a trip to the Banquet of Champions stage. Behind them, ten drivers — from 5th-place Jim “Boomer” Morris to 14th-place Eric Chase — will duke it out for the final six spots.
In the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, Craftsbury Common’s Joel Hodgdon is on the verge of his victory lap. Hodgdon has a 104-point lead over Grand Isle’s Joe Steffen with two events remaining on their championship schedule. Hodgdon has been the class of the field for nearly the entire season with three wins and 10 top-5 finishes in 14 events.
But the rest of the division still has plenty to race for. Several top veterans, including Mike Martin and Cameron Ouellette, have surprisingly been shut out of Victory Lane so far this season and are itching to end their skids. Meanwhile, a historically strong rookie class looks to continue upsetting the apple cart, as Brandon Lanphear, Kelsea Woodard, and Cooper Bouchard try to remain in the top-10 in points.
The Allen Lumber Street Stocks are an all-Martin show at the top. Craftsbury Common’s Stephen Martin is one step closer to becoming the youngest champion in track history, as the 16-year-old sits 50 points ahead of Barre’s Jeffrey Martin. Matthew Smith, Logan Powers, and Tim Hunt are close behind Jeffrey Martin. All four are hoping for a stumble by Stephen that would let them back in the mix.
The evening will also feature the annual “Run What U Brung” spectator races where fans get to run their street-legal vehicles on the high banks. Competitors must be at least 18 years of age, have a valid driver’s license, purchase a pit pass for the event, and wear a racing-helmet, long-sleeve clothing, and shoes. Vehicles must be registered and inspected and cannot have DOT snow tires. Up to 50 registrations will be accepted with an entry deadline of 6:00pm.
The final Thursday night Thunder Road event of the year takes the green at 7:00pm this Thursday, August 23. 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).