BARRE – Hometown racer Jason Corliss notched yet another crown jewel at Thunder Road by fending off the best of the Late Models, as well as the threat of Mother Nature in the 41st Vermont Governor’s Cup 150 on Thursday, July 16. The defending champion got the best of multiple on-track battles in the race of the year for the Late Models to grab his second straight win and the 17th of his storied career.
Corliss earned the pole in qualifying under the “plus-minus” system to lead a 23-car starting field to the green flag. After the veteran set the pace early, Wolcott’s Marcel J. Gravel showed why he was the Late Model point leader entering the night, swinging around the outside of Corliss to take the lead on lap 24. Corliss stayed to the inside of Gravel for more than a dozen circuits, but Gravel was able to use a lapped car as a pick on lap 38 to finally finish the pass.
Corliss stayed glued to Gravel’s bumper, though, while three-time track champion Derrick O’Donnell also entered the mix. When Christopher Pelkey spun out of the fifth position to bring out the first caution flag on lap 57, it put the leaders side-by-side again. When another yellow flew a lap later for Stephen Donahue’s spin, it was Corliss who had the nose up for the top spot.
The duo initially seemed content to break away from the field on the next restart. But at the halfway mark, with potential rain in the area, Gravel decided to push the button and went to the outside of Corliss. Gravel took the lead on lap 78 and again used a lapped car to clear Corliss on the 81st circuit.
Eight laps later, though, Corliss went back to the inside lane. For more than 20 laps, the pair went at it door-handle to door-handle, knowing the race could end at any second. As they battled, Scott Dragon, Bobby Therrien, and Tyler Cahoon all closed in. With the lead tandem approaching traffic again on lap 109, Corliss asserted himself, powering to the front and clearing Gravel just before they caught Donahue.
Therrien followed him through for second and was on Corliss’s bumper as they worked around the lapped car of Matt White when Chip Grenier crashed in turn four with 16 laps to go to bring out the final caution. On the restart, White was to Corliss’s outside with Therrien on his bumper as they went back to the last complete lap. When the green flag flew again, it was White who had the edge, unlapping himself as Dragon sliced from fourth to second in the scramble.
Corliss dove back inside White, though, and after a few laps of pressure from Dragon and a late-surging Trampas Demers, both Corliss and White began pulling away from the field even as they ran wheel to wheel. With the rest of the pack sorting it out behind them, Corliss escaped to nab his first career victory in Thunder Road’s oldest event.
Dragon retook the second spot in the final laps, while Therrien nipped Demers at the line for third. Cahoon took fifth as Gravel faded to sixth. O’Donnell, Kyle Pembroke, Ryan Kuhn, and Brendan Moodie completed the top 10.
Prior to the Governor’s Cup, Berlin’s Kyler Davis got the upper hand in another thrilling battle between two Street Stock rookies to grab his first career win. Davis started fifth in the 25-lap feature and inherited the second spot when pole-sitter Josh Lovely shut down to bring out the third caution on lap 10.
After holding off fellow freshman James Dopp through another yellow on lap 14, Davis chased down Groton’s Luke Peters at the front. With two laps to go, Davis ducked to the inside on the backstretch, with the duo running door-to-door all the way to the checkered flag. Davis edged Peters by about two feet for the victory.
Peters finished runner-up for the second straight week, while Dopp edged point leader Brandon Gray for third. Gray had shut down to bring out the first caution at lap-six, but a pile-up on the restart allowed his team to make repairs and keep him on the lead lap for a huge comeback. Tanner Woodard took sixth, followed by Cooper French, J.T. Blanchard, Jeffrey Martin, Jamie Davis, and Kaiden Fisher.
The rain that had threatened throughout the Governor’s Cup finally arrived 10 laps into the 40-lap Flying Tiger feature. Mother Nature’s arrival was aided by three caution flags in those first 10 laps, including one on the opening circuit when pole-sitter Bunker Hodgdon lost it in front of the field to trigger a multi-car backstretch pile-up.
Waitsfield’s Kyle Streeter was leading over Derrick Calkins and rookie Kasey Beattie when the rain came. The Flying Tiger feature will be completed next Thursday, July 23 prior to the regularly scheduled event. The make-up date for the Road Warrior feature will be announced shortly.
Thunder Road doubles the stakes on Thursday, July 23, at the Midseason Championships. The Late Models, Flying Tigers, Street Stocks and Road Warriors all have extra-distance features with double points in all races. Prior to the Midseason Championships, the Flying Tigers will run the final 30 laps of their Governor’s Cup feature. Post time has been set for 6:30 p.m.
Limited fan attendance is permitted with advance ticket sales.
41ST VERMONT GOVERNOR’S CUP
(Pos., Driver, Car #, Hometown)
6. Marcel J. Gravel (86VT) Wolcott
10. Brendan Moodie (94VT) Wolcott
9. Jamie Davis (43) Wolcott
Running Order – 10 of 40 laps completed
4. Tyler Austin (5VT) East Calais
10. Jaden Perry (92VT) Hardwick
26. Bunker Hodgdon (83VT) Wolcott
28. Stephen Martin (9VT) Craftsbury Common