Barre, VT – The final Thursday night event of the season is about to arrive for Barre’s Thunder Road. Jet Service Envelope/Accura Printing Night on Thursday, August 22 will be a fitting send-off to this year’s “Thursday Thunder slate” atop Quarry Hill.
A full card of championship action is on tap this Thursday for the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models, Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, and Allen Lumber Street Stocks. The title fights are now close in all three divisions, making this week’s racing as critical as ever. Thursday also features the annual “Run-What-U-Brung” spectator races for those who want to take their street-legal cars out on the high banks. It adds up to a night sure to be full of on-track fireworks.
With just two point-counting races left in the quest to be “King of the Road”, the outcome is no closer to being decided than it was a month ago. Barre’s Jason Corliss has sat at the helm for the last three weeks as he chases his first Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model championship. The former Street Stock champion has already won the Vermont Milk Bowl, Labor Day Classic, Memorial Day Classic, and Community Bank N.A. 150 just in the past calendar year.
However, Corliss has been unable to pull away from the pack over the course of the summer. He is currently 16 points ahead of reigning “King of the Road” Scott Dragon. The Milton veteran leads the division with three point-counting wins this year. While Barre’s Cody Blake has yet to find Victory Lane, his five podium finishes have kept him in the hunt. Blake is 21 points behind Corliss and may be peaking at the right time with back-to-back runner-up efforts.
“We’re mainly focused on trying to get a win,” Blake said, “We haven’t gotten a win yet this year. We’ve had some fast cars and plenty of chances, and we’ve gotten a lot of top-3’s, but we just want to get a win underneath our belts for this year. It would definitely help with points, but we’ve never really focused on that. We’re just going to let that fall into place and try to get some wins.
“This year has been kind of interesting, because last year we won three races, and we weren’t this close (to the championship),” Blake added. “We’re definitely going to need some luck – a fast car and a lot of luck.”
The battle remains a five-way fight with Montpelier’s Kyle Pembroke and Shelburne’s Trampas Demers lurking in the shadows. The duo has cooled off slightly in the month of August but are still just 26 and 30 points, respectively, out of first. Both are capable of leap-frogging over the competition two strong runs to end the year.
The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tiger division has two clear front-runners with three point-counting events remaining. Rookie Stephen Martin of Craftsbury retook the points lead last Thursday after a second-place finish. The 17-year-old ended Jason Woodard’s three-week stay atop the standings. However, Waterbury Center’s Woodard is only three points back, and the two-time Tiger champion could easily flip the script again this week.
Much is also left to be decided behind the lead pair. Morrisville’s Brandon Lanphear has vaulted to third in the standings after last Thursday’s win. However, just 27 points separate third-place Lanphear from eighth-place Jason Pelkey. Tyler Austin, Kelsea Woodard, Logan Powers, and Micheal MacAskill sit between them ready to make their final charges.
The Allen Lumber Street Stock championship picture has tightened up considerably from a week ago. Barre’s Jeffrey Martin was unable to even make the call at the Vermont Tire & Service event due to electrical problems. However, fellow hometown racer Tyler Pepin stepped up as a last-minute substitute driver, earning enough points in Martin’s name to keep Martin in the point lead.
Still, Martin’s margin over 2014 Street Stock Champion Tommy “Thunder” Smith of Williamstown is down to 21 points, the closest it’s been in two months. St. Johnsbury’s Kasey Beattie benefitted the most from the Thursday shuffle as he now sits 26 points behind in third. Two-time champion Jamie Davis of Williamstown is 48 points back in fourth and still has a puncher’s chance at a third title.
For many, the highlight of this Thursday’s show will be the “Run-What-U-Brung”. The annual one-on-one spectator match races have produced some of Thunder Road’s most memorable moments, including last year’s “flip and win” by Patrick Martin Jr. To enter the Run-What-U-Brung, competitors must be at least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license and have a vehicle that’s registered, inspected, and insured. The field will be capped at 50 entries. Additional rules are posted at www.thunderroadvt.com.
Jet Service Envelope/Accura Printing Night takes the green flag at 7:00pm on Thursday, August 22. The Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models, Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, Allen Lumber Street Stocks, and Run-What-U-Brung spectator race are all on the card. 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).