Barre, VT – The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers are back in the Thunder Road spotlight this Thursday, July 11 at Passumpsic Bank Night. The pressure will be on in the second round of the Myers Container Service Triple Crown Series as the division’s best vie for bragging rights in the added-distance, added-purse event.
With nearly half the season suddenly gone, things have gotten serious at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement”. The on-track action has ramped up the intensity with racers jockeying hard for every position. The Flying Tigers have 75 laps on Thursday to get it done, leaving them to strike the balance between staying patient and roaring to the front. But before the feature even begins, qualifying can set the tone — or even decide whether they make the starting grid.
“Having a really good heat race to get track position is important to start out with,” Waitsfield’s Kevin Streeter said. “Then you need to have a lot of patience in the feature – and hopefully your car will last until the end. The feature is almost twice the race that we normally do, so you’ve got to really be smart and try to save your car until the end. I think you take what you can get for the first 50 laps, and then you’re going to race a lot harder the last 25. If you’re in position to get a good finish, you want to take advantage of that.”
Much could be decided Thursday in both the Myers Triple Crown standings and the season-long championship chase. Waterbury Center’s Jason Woodard leads the Triple Crown hunt after his win in the opener and is tied for third in the overall standings. The two-time champion was unsure of his plans before the season started but now is primed to contend for both titles.
However, he’s looking up at a pair of young guns in the overall standings. To say rookie Stephen Martin of Craftsbury has gotten up to speed quickly in the Flying Tigers is an understatement. The 17-year-old has reeled off six straight top-6 finishes to take the point lead after seven events. Martin is now 32 points ahead of 22-year-old Tyler Austin of East Calais, a Tiger junior who has improved every year.
Several other up-and-comers are ready to go at it with the Tiger veterans. Hardwick’s Jaden Perry has focused on big events this year and sits second in the Triple Crown standings. Another sophomore, Waterbury Center’s Kelsea Woodard, is third in the Triple Crown rankings and shares third overall with her dad Jason. Streeter is one of the oldest sophomores in the field, but he isn’t letting that slow him down, as he ranks in the top-5 of both point standings.
“I’m just going to race the way I’ve been racing and let the chips fall where they are,” Streeter said of his strong start. “I’m not going to change anything up – I race for the win if I can get there. If you do that, the points will fall where they are. If you ended up getting crashed out, then you get crashed out. That’s just the way I race. I’m going to race smart, obviously, but I want the wins – that’s what we go there every week to do!”
Many more Tigers will be looking for a big win Thursday. East Burke’s Colin Cornell comes off his first Thunder Road win last week while Morrisville’s Brandon Lanphear is trying to rebound after crashes while leading in back-to-back events. Meanwhile, elder statesmen like Joe Steffen, Sam Caron, Mike Martin, and Robert Gordon aren’t going to concede without a fight. Add in strong part-timers like Matt Potter, Brad Bushey, and Lance Rabtoy, and Thursday’s event has all the ingredients for a vintage Tiger shootout.
The rest of the night’s action promises to be just as exciting. The Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models continue to duke it out in close quarters for the “King of the Road” title. South Burlington’s Trampas Demers knocked Barre’s Jason Corliss off the top perch after his win last Thursday. However, the gap between the duo is just three points.
Barre’s Cody Blake sit 10 points out of the lead in third. Defending track champion Scott Dragon, three-time champ Phil Scott, and youngsters Marcel J. Gravel and Kyle Pembroke aren’t far behind, setting up a championship duel that could be even more fierce than last year.
Hometown racer Jeffrey Martin has now spent four straight events atop the Allen Lumber Street Stock standings. His two wins and six top-10 finishes have him 32 points ahead of Berlin’s Kasey Collins, who has been one of the season’s biggest surprises. Just behind Collins is a hodgepodge of strong competitors, including former champions Tommy “Thunder” Smith and Jamie Davis, two-time season winner Tyler Pepin, and sophomores Kasey Beattie and Tim Hunt.
The best of Thunder Road hits the high banks for Passumpsic Bank Night this Thursday, July 11 at 7:00pm. The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers go 75 laps in the second round of the Myers Container Service Triple Crown Series. Fans will also be treated to championship action from the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models and Allen Lumber Street Stocks. 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).