Barre, VT – Thunder Road reaches the halfway mark on the 2019 season this Thursday, July 25 at the Country Camper Midseason Championships. The event is always one of the most intense nights of the season at the Barre high banks, and this year’s edition will be no exception, as racers chase every position they can in a quartet of added-distance features.
The Midseason Championships offer double points, meaning each spot a driver gains – or loses – means twice as much. It’s a night that can establish someone as a legitimate championship frontrunner, turn around a tough season, or leave them scrambling to catch up down the stretch. Even with extra laps to get the job done, many racers will be trying to balance their regular approach with the higher stakes.
It’s usually the same old race – you go to the track just planning on racing and having a good time,” Northfield’s Matt White said. “It seems in my case that luck is never on my side and we don’t have a great finish. It puts a little more stress on everybody, but we all just go up there and try to just race our cars with what we’ve go. Sometimes we get caught up in somebody else’s mess, and sometimes we make our own mess. This year we hope to change that!”
In the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models, the Midseason Championships could bring the title fight even closer or give one racer a clear edge. The top eight currently are separated by 64 points, which seems at first glance to be a large spread. But the winner of Thursday’s 75-lap main event receives 150 points, making the current gap seem piddling in comparison.
Shelburne’s Trampas Demers finds himself at the head of the table going into double-points night. The veteran has a 27-point lead over Barre’s Jason Corliss thanks to a perfect record of top-10 finishes. Demers won the Midseason Championship in 2014 and undoubtedly knows the importance of a good night – or at least avoiding a bad one.
But the drivers behind him are just as hungry. Corliss and Milton’s Scott Dragon are both trying to bounce back from tough runs in the Vermont Governor’s Cup while Barre’s Cody Blake has been on a recent tear. The four went down to the wire in last year’s championship battle, and if they all come out of Thursday’s race in good shape, they could well do so again.
Behind them sits four more racers who are one strong event away from being a true contender. Montpelier’s Kyle Pembroke and Middlesex’s Phil Scott already have won this year while White and Wolcott’s Marcel J. Gravel have often been near the front. All four know a double-point victory would put them in the title conversation. Even racers like Tyler Cahoon, Boomer Morris, and Christopher Pelkey can still harbor championship dreams with a well-timed win.
“We started off really strong, and right in the middle of the first half we had some troubles – but we finally figured out what our problems were,” White said. “We’ve changed that and run better since then, so now we’re hoping to have a great Midseason and have a little bounce-back that puts us up where we think we should be. But we’ll have to wait see if we can make something of it!”
In the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers and Allen Lumber Street Stocks, the Midseason Championships are a chance for the field to close the gap on the leader. Rookie Stephen Martin of Craftsbury has inched farther ahead of the Tiger pack with every passing week. The 17-year-old is now 41 points ahead of two-time champion Jason Woodard of Waterbury Center. Fellow youngsters Tyler Austin of East Calais and Kelsea Woodard of Waterbury Center sit 54 and 56 points behind Martin in third and fourth.
But all of that could change over the course of their 50-lap feature on Thursday. Anyone else in the top-10 could jump into the picture, too. Logan Powers and Jason Pelkey have been two of the hottest drivers in the division while Brandon Lanphear is trying to turn around a streak of bad luck. Mike MacAskill, Colin Cornell, and Joe Steffen are no strangers to Victory Lane and know another win could help make their season.
The Street Stocks have been Jeffrey Martin’s domain since mid-June as the hometown racer currently holds a 38-point lead over former champion Tommy “Thunder” Smith of Williamstown. But Kasey Beattie, Tim Hunt, Jamie Davis, Tyler Pepin, and Dean Switser Jr. could all have something to say about it before the night is over. The week-to-week Street Stock action has been wildly unpredictable this year, and a 35-lap feature only ups the ante.
While the Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors are not a point-counting division, they too will have an added-distance event. This gives fan favorites like Eric Chase, James Dopp, Nate Brien, Kylar Davis, and Brian Putney some extra time to shine. The division has brought the fun every time they’ve been at Thunder Road this year and are ready for another night of action.
The Country Camper Midseason Championships go to post at 7:00pm this Thursday, July 25. Added-distance features and double points are on the docket for the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models, Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, Allen Lumber Street Stocks, and Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors all have. The night also includes the annual Driver Autograph Session at intermission. 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).