BARRE – Barre’s Jason Corliss began his drive for a third straight “King of the Road” title in the best way possible by winning his third Memorial Day Classic at Thunder Road on Friday, June 4. Corliss took the lead from Milton’s Scott Dragon with time winding down in the 125-lap Late Model feature to win his first event of the year.
The Late Model feature was one of two completed before unexpected rain showers arrived in the Barre area. The precipitation persisted, ultimately forcing the postponement of the Triple Crown 100 for the Flying Tigers and the Street Stock feature.
Corliss started 11th in the main event and focused on staying out of trouble through a rash of early cautions. A total of nine yellows flew in the first 54 laps, sidelining early contenders such as polesitter Marcel J. Gravel, Brooks Clark, and Derek O’Donnell, while hobbling several others.
The rough start culminated when Hinesburg’s Bobby Therrien blew a right front tire entering turn one just after taking the lead from Milton’s Scott Dragon on a restart. Therrien slammed into the turn one wall with his car catching fire before coming to a halt on the backstretch. The 2017 “King of the Road” was not injured in the spectacular crash.
When the race resumed, Corliss swung around Barre’s Cody Blake to assume the third spot behind Dragon and Graniteville’s Stephen Donahue. Corliss then swung inside Donahue to take second just before Matthew Smith slowed on the backstretch with a flat tire, bringing out the 10th and final yellow with 34 laps remaining.
Dragon easily cleared Corliss on the restart, but Corliss stuck to his back bumper like superglue. After deking to the inside multiple times entering turn three, Corliss then went to the outside groove on lap 104. The reigning champion put the nose out front the following lap and cleared Dragon three circuits later, pulling away down the stretch for his 21st career Thunder Road Late Model win. The victory also gives him sole possession of third place on the all-time Late Model wins list.
Two-time track champion Dragon finished runner-up in the second outing with his new Todd Rueda-owned team. Graniteville’s Christopher Pelkey, minus most of the left-side sheet metal from an earlier incident, beat out Donahue in a late doorbuster for third. Donahue held off Shelburne’s Trampas Demers, who came from 21st after a major crash in qualifying. Blake, rookie Brandon Lanphear, Chip Grenier, Tyler Cahoon, and Eric Chase rounded out the top 10.
Prior the Memorial Day Classic, Northfield’s Josh Vilbrin made a three-wide pass in the closing laps to win the Road Warrior feature. Vilbrin had come from 12th on the starting grid to sit third behind Clary Badger and Paige Whittemore when Andrea St. Amour spun on the backstretch. Her misfortune brought out the caution with seven circuits remaining in the 20-lap showdown.
When the green flag came out, Badger and Whittemore went full bore, with Whittemore putting the bumper out front with four laps to go. As the leaders came out of turn two the next time, Vilbrin dove inside, shooting the gap to take the top spot. Vilbrin and Whittemore broke away in the final stages as Badger got shuffled back.
Graniteville’s Whittemore followed Vilbrin across the finish line for a career-best second place effort. Barre’s Taylor Sayers, in just his second career start, came home third. Early leader Matt Ballard, Dan Garrett Jr., Nate “Tater” Brien, Frank Putney, Bert Duffy, Jamie York, and Badger completed the top 10.
Thunder Road is back in action on Friday, June 11 at 7 p.m. The Late Models, Flying Tigers, and Street Stocks all have a full card of championship action. The evening also features the annual appearance of the New England Antique Racers, with the Modifieds and Sportsmen of yesteryear.
The make-up dates for the Triple Crown 100 and the Street Stock feature that were postponed from the Memorial Day Classicwere announced. One feature each will be run at the next two Thunder Road events, in addition to the regular program. The Triple Crown Series event for the Flying Tigers has been slated for Friday, June 11. The event now has an early 6:30 p.m., post time. Following the Triple Crown feature is a card that includes the Late Models, Flying Tigers, Street Stocks, and New England Antique Racers.
The Street Stocks are doubling up Thursday, June 17. Post time will remain 7 p.m., for that event. The Street Stock make-up feature will be followed by a full card for all four local divisions. The June 17 program also includes the annual Kid’s Rides beginning at 4 p.m.
Pos., Start Pos., Driver, Car #, Hometown, Laps
(Results for local competitors)
21. (1) Marcel J. Gravel (86VT) Wolcott, 25 Laps
DNS (22) Brendan Moodie (94VT) Wolcott