Barre, VT – The season-long championship battles at Thunder Road enter their final stages this Thursday, August 15 at Vermont Tire & Service Night. Just two Thursday night events remain at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement” this year. While the Thursday season may be winding down, the action is just getting started as racers fight to claim a coveted track title.
The donnybrook to be the 2019 “King of the Road” remains one of the closest in track history. Three point-counting events are left for the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models as they jockey and jostle for every point they can get. With just 23 points separating the top-five racers, nearly everything will need to go right for the driver who ends up on top at season’s end.
Barre’s Jason Corliss has held the upper hand for the past two weeks. The hometown hero is in search of his first Late Model championship after winning nearly every big race there is to win at Thunder Road over the past two seasons. He currently has a 12-point lead over Milton’s Scott Dragon, who has won two of the last three titles. Dragon is the only contender to have a reign as “King of the Road”, giving him a leg up in knowing what it takes to get the job done.
Three Thunder Road veterans sit closely bunched behind Dragon in positions 3-5. Shelburne’s Trampas Demers, Montpelier’s Kyle Pembroke, and Barre’s Cody Blake have won numerous races at Thunder Road in recent years. However, a championship has eluded them. A come-from-behind drive to the title this year would be a crowning achievement for any of the three in their racing careers.
The top-five will have to grapple with more than just each other. The Late Model fields at Thunder Road are some of the most talented in the region with a dozen or more drivers capable of winning any given Thursday. Wolcott’s Marcel J. Gravel remains on the cusp of contention in sixth overall. Danville’s Tyler Cahoon is coming off his first victory in two years. Graniteville’s Christopher Pelkey and Northfield’s Matt White have multiple podium finishes this year. Every move the field makes will impact the title contenders as well, meaning one decision could be the difference between a big night and a disaster.
Two other championships are also still to be decided in the coming weeks. The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers and Allen Lumber Street Stocks each have four point-counting events remaining. Two Flying Tiger racers have started to pull away from the pack. Waterbury Center’s Jason Woodard is blazing the trail as he hunts for his third Tiger championship. The newly-crowned Myers Container Service Triple Crown Series Champion has an eight-point lead in the season-long standings over rookie Stephen Martin of Craftsbury.
But the rest of the field isn’t ready to concede just yet. East Calais’s Tyler Austin is having a career year in third overall. At 45 points behind Woodard, a belated title bid by Austin isn’t out of the question. Waterbury Center’s Kelsea Woodard, Morrisville’s Brandon Lanphear, Middlesex’s Logan Powers, and Williamstown’s Micheal MacAskill aren’t far behind Austin, leaving much to be decided before the final checkered flag flies.
In the Street Stocks, Barre’s Jeffrey Martin continues to cruise at the top. Martin extended his streak of top-10 finishes to 12 straight last Thursday, keeping him in the driver’s seat for the championship. 2014 Street Stock Champion Tommy “Thunder” Smith of Williamstown is doing his best to peck away at the gap but is still 39 points behind Martin. St. Johnsbury’s Kasey Beattie, Wolcott’s Jamie Davis, and Lyndonville’s Dean Switser Jr. round out the top-five.
The Street Stocks have some extra time in the spotlight this Thursday with the Marvin Johnson Memorial for drivers seeking their first Street Stock win on the high banks. Several top-10 point drivers are eligible for the special 19-lap event, including Berlin’s Kasey Collins, Graniteville’s J.T. Blanchard, and Pittsfield’s Juan “Paco” Marshall. These and other drivers will have two chances on Thursday to become a first-time Thunder Road winner.
The Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors are also on the schedule. Berlin’s Kylar Davis has been the hottest driver in the division with three straight top-two finishes. He’ll have to beat out top runners such as Northfield’s James Dopp, East Corinth’s Brian Putney, Northfield’s Josh Vilbrin, and Berlin’s Chris Davis to keep that streak alive.
Vermont Tire & Service Night goes to post at 7:00pm this Thursday, August 15. The card of racing includes all four divisions, the Marvin Johnson Memorial First-Time Winner’s Race, and a special Junior Champ Kart/Race to Read parade 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).