Thunder Road celebrates one of the biggest weekends in motorsports this Sunday, September 2 with the 40th Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic. The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) will be on hand as part of a holiday weekend program that is expected to draw more than 120 cars to the Barre high banks.
The stars of the ACT Late Model Tour will take on many of Thunder Road’s Maplewood/Irving Late Model regulars for a 200-lap endurance test. ACT standouts such as Colchester’s Scott Payea, Rowley, MA’s Eddie MacDonald, Williamstown’s Jimmy Hebert, and Lebanon, NH’s Rich Dubeau are expected to do battle for a $5,000 top prize in the Summer Showdown Series finale.
For the Thunder Road weekly warriors, Sunday represents a chance to relax and focus on the checkered flag. The track’s Late Model championship wrapped up last Thursday, with Milton’s Scott Dragon becoming “King of the Road” for the second time. As such, Dragon and his fellow Thursday night competitors can now go for broke without having to worry about points.
“I think we have a really good shot on Sunday,” Dragon said. “We finished second last year and the year before — I was thinking about that earlier. We might have had another second somewhere in there in the last five years. So I think we should run pretty good. The blue car is always really good for the longer races!”
“The Thunder Road guys have really got their cars dialed in by now,” he added. “We’d had all season up there to know what’s going on, while the Tour guys are dialing their cars around for different race tracks. It’s definitely an edge for us, being that we’re basically bringing our Thunder Road cars up there.”
For Dragon’s ACT Late Model touring counterparts, Sunday’s Labor Day Classic comes just as the championship battle is heating up. Point leader Payea was involved in multiple incidents last Saturday at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway while MacDonald and Hebert finished 1-2. The result allowed the duo to pull within 21 and 25 points of Payea, respectively, making it a 3-way chase for the title with two events remaining.
Four other divisions are on tap at the Labor Day holiday special. Thunder Road’s Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers and Allen Lumber Street Stocks will both crown their 2018 champions on Sunday. Craftsbury Common’s Joel Hodgdon has already mathematically clinched the Flying Tiger title, leaving him free to go all-out on Sunday. Hodgdon’s impressive run to his first championship has included three victories and a perfect record of top-10 finishes.
The rest of the division will be dicing for trophies, pride, and a trip to the postseason banquet stage. Morrisville’s Brandon Lanphear has sealed the Rookie of the Year title and is trying to chase down Grand Isle’s “Double O” Joe Steffen for the runner-up spot in the overall standings. A total of 33 points separate fourth-place Kyle Streeter and ninth-place Kelsea Woodard, meaning a lot of shuffling could happen by day’s end.
In the Allen Lumber Street Stocks, Craftsbury Common’s Stephen Martin is one trouble-free event away from becoming the youngest champion in track history. Martin, who will be 16 years and 68 days old on Sunday, is 41 points ahead of Barre’s Jeffrey Martin. The rest of the top-5 is razor-close, as Derby’s Tim Hunt, Essex Jct.’s Matthew Smith, and Middlesex’s Logan Powers are all within 18 points of Jeffrey Martin.
The Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors and New England Dwarf Cars round out the program. The Road Warriors have been one the most entertaining Thunder Road divisions all season and have seen racers such as Frank Putney, Eric Chase, and Sean McCarthy become must-watch names. The Dwarf Cars are returning to the Barre high banks after debuting at last year’s Vermont Milk Bowl.
Qualifying for the 40th Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic begins at 1:00pm on Sunday, September 2. Admission is $25 for adults and free for kids ages 12 and under. The pits open at 8:00am and the front gates open at 10:00am. The Thunder Road campgrounds will also be open for the long weekend beginning at 12:00pm on Friday, August 31.