BARRE — Even after taking a restful partial season in 2022, three-time ‘King of the Road’ Jason Corliss returned to his roots at Barre’s Thunder Road and once again stood victorious before the large crowd on hand for the Vermont Governor’s Cup. Waterbury Center’s Tanner Woodard and Williamstown’s Josh Lovely also made the thrilling trip to Thunder Road victory lane.
The 43rd Vermont Governor’s Cup 150 brought one of Thunder Road’s largest fields of the season as 28 Late Models took to the challenge of battling against NASCAR Champion Brad Keselowski. As the field took off under the green flag, front row starters Derrick O’Donnell and Cody Blake dominantly led the way by upwards of three car lengths. After the first caution flew on lap 16 with Keselowski spinning in turn one, O’Donnell and Blake once again paced the field with a stout lead.
Their two-car lead once again mired on lap 22 after White Mountain Motorsports Park rookie contender and former Flying Tiger winner Bryan Wall Jr. spun into the turn three grass and was unable to refire his Wall’s Ford machine. On the restart, the real story was former track champions Scott Dragon and Jason Corliss battling side-by-side for third with Brendan Moodie in tow.
By a lap 60 restart, following Keegan Lamson’s spin in turn two, it was O’Donnell on the inside and Corliss on the outside with Corliss finally edging the “Dark Knight of the White Mountains” for the top spot just five laps later. The leaders began to hit lapped traffic by lap 85 but it was lap 111 that brought an audible gasp across the grandstands. Coming out of turn four, with Corliss, O’Donnell and Blake in close quarters, Chris Roberts and Matt White spun sideways and blocked the track. All three front runners slammed the brakes like they’ve never been slammed before, with only O’Donnell sustaining damage to his fender.
Ten laps after the restart, O’Donnell’s rearranged fender and hood caused the Oil Boys 60NH machine to overheat and gave Corliss the cat-bird seat. The last 28 laps certainly weren’t a cakewalk for the defending champ, as Corliss bobbed and weaved through heavy lap traffic with Blake gaining inches with every hold-up. Ultimately, Corliss would cross the line first under the checkered flag to gain his third-consecutive Vermont Governor’s Cup. He admitted in victory lane that 2022 was a rest and relaxation season for the team that worked non-stop from 2015 until 2021 and the win proved to him that he still had it.
Starting the night’s activities, the Street Stocks once again filled the pits with 30 cars, three of them were unable to make repairs after the qualifying rounds. On the start of their 25-lap feature, rookie Cameron Powers took off like a rocket, followed by former champion Gary Mullen. Young gun Jesse Laquerre was set to catch the “Flying Farmer” before ambition and hunger for a podium finish sent his #71 Ford Mustang into the spin cycle in turn three. Following Laquerre’s save to keep the race green, veterans Josh Lovely and Dean Switser began to swarm Mullen. On lap 17, Laquerre spun once again and stalled in the infield, bringing out the first caution of the event. On the restart, Lovely and Switser got the jump on Powers and never looked back. Josh Lovely earned his second win of the season followed by Switser and Powers to round out the podium.
Wrapping up the program, the Flying Tigers took the field. Led by Logan Powers after a rough season so far, Tanner Woodard followed close behind, with Phil Potvin putting together a strong run for third. By lap 14, second-in-points pilot Justin Prescott nabbed third around Potvin, with Woodard testing the outside groove above Powers. Ten laps later, Milton’s Sam Caron sneaked under Potvin to join the top four as they came upon the lap car of rookie Matt Ballard. Caron and Ballard would make contact on the backstretch with the rookie spinning into the infield, bringing out the first caution.
On the restart, Woodard launched on the outside of Powers for a side-by-side top four completely under a two-wide blanket. By lap 33, Woodard took the lead with Caron following him on the open outside groove. Woodard would take his first Thunder Road win of the season followed by the hard-charging Sam Caron and Logan Powers in third.
Thunder Road returns Thursday, July 21, with the 31st annual Midseason Championships. Double points and double the money are on the line for all four Thunder Road divisions while the annual autograph session on the front stretch is also on the docket for race fans of all ages. Late Models, Flying Tigers, Street Stocks and Road Warriors are all part of the show to see who can be crowned the 2022 Midseason Champion. Post time is set for 7 p.m., with full race day schedule.
Vermont Governor’s Cup 150
Late Model – 150 Laps
3. 94VT, Brendan Moodie, Wolcott
4. 86VT, Marcel J. Gravel, Wolcott
26. 01VT, #Stephen Martin, Craftsbury Common
Flying Tigers – 40 Laps
9, 01VT, Michael Martin, Craftsbury Common
23, 5VT, Tyler Austin, East Calais
DNS, 92VT, Jaden Perry, Hardwick