Barre, VT – The 40th VP Racing Fuels Vermont Governor’s Cup at Barre’s Thunder Road is fast approaching – and with it the maiden voyage for one of the country’s biggest young auto racing stars at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement”.
Norman, OK’s Christopher Bell is trying his hand at the high banks for this year’s Vermont Governor’s Cup on Thursday, July 18. The 24-year-old has been tearing it up on both the asphalt and dirt circuits the last few years. Anticipation is building fast to see what he can do at the legendary high banks.
“It’s neat to see the different driving styles of the NASCAR visitors and how they approach a race like this,” Williamstown, VT’s Jimmy Hebert said. “Christopher is a little bit more diverse of a racer, having done dirt and all kinds of different series. I think he’ll actually do better than most because he’s more diverse. Some of the drivers who’ve mostly run Cup have not done as well, whereas people like Kenny Schrader with a wide background did pretty well. But it’s always cool to see someone different. I always like racing with different people – it adds another element and makes it more fun.”
Bell has made a big name for himself in just a few years in the national spotlight. He currently sits second in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings for Joe Gibbs racing and has earned 12 wins in the series over the last 20 months. Before that, he won the 2017 Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship driving for Kyle Busch. Bell is also a three-time and defending winner of the Chili Bowl, which is considered the biggest dirt midget car event in the world.
But like other national stars who have attempted to tame the high banks, Bell will have his work cut out for him when he arrives at Thunder Road. The list of those who have come to conquer over the past 15 years includes Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Ken Schrader, Clint Bower, David Ragan, and Kenny Wallace, with Schrader and Bowyer each making two attempts. The best finish of any of these drivers remains Schrader’s sixth-place effort in the 2006 Governor’s Cup, speaking to the caliber of the local heroes.
The weekly Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model stars will be out in force once again to take on the national invader. Two-time and defending Governor’s Cup winner Scott Dragon of Milton, current point leader Trampas Demers of South Burlington, two-time defending Milk Bowl Champion Jason Corliss of Barre, and 2013 Vermont Governor’s Cup winner Cody Blake of Barre are just some of those who will be on hand. This quartet is currently separated by just 21 points in the battle to be the 2019 “King of the Road”, putting even more on the line.
Many others could make a big statement in the long-distance affair. Vermont Governor Phil Scott of Middlesex already has a win this year and said following that event he’ll be at the Governor’s Cup. Wolcott’s Marcel J. Gravel has earned three podium finishes at Thunder Road this year and is itching to return to the top spot. Tyler Cahoon and Boomer Morris both have long-distance wins at Thunder Road while Josh Masterson and Darrell Morin could earn their first win on the biggest stage of the regular season.
The event is also drawing the interest of several American-Canadian Tour (ACT) regulars. Hebert, the current number-two point driver on the ACT Late Model Tour, is among those who have verbally committed to the Vermont Governor’s Cup. Hebert is a former Flying Tiger champion at the track but is still seeking his first Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model win.
“We’ve always had weird luck at Thunder Road – it seems like we either finish in the top-3 or we have something happen,” Hebert said. “Hopefully we have some good luck and get a good run. It’ll also be a good test for Labor Day, so we’ll try some things we’ve been working on, and see what works and what doesn’t!”
The VP Fuels Vermont Governor’s Cup goes to post at 6:30pm on Thursday, July 18. NASCAR star Christopher Bell joins the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models for 150 green-flag laps of action in the event’s 40th edition. There is also a full card of racing scheduled for the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers and Allen Lumber Street Stocks. Admission is $20 for adults and free for kids ages 12 and under.
Thunder Road is next on track this Thursday, July 11 for Passumpsic Bank Night. The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers go 75 laps in the second round of their Myers Container Service Triple Crown Series. Fans will also be treated to championship action the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models and Allen Lumber Street Stocks. Admission is $12 for adults, $3 for kids ages 6-12, and $25 for a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids).