First Time Winner Taylor Sayers Takes Road Warrior Challenge

photo by Alan Ward
The Road Warriors took center stage on Thursday with the fourth annual Road Warrior Challenge – 50 Laps and $500 to win!

BARRE — On yet another Thursday night in Central Vermont, rain played her part at Thunder Road International Speedbowl. Delayed by thirty minutes, the Nolato Night activities took off at 7:30 p.m., with four divisions of action and over 90 cars in attendance wrapping the night up at seven-seconds past 10 p.m. In the end, another week of first time winners in 2022 stood in victory lane while many others put some extra padding in their track championship standings.

The Flying Tigers were first to take the stage after Tyler Austin and Mike MacAskill took dominating qualifying wins. Trouble started early as the 45VT machine of Milton’s Adam Maynard slammed into the turn three retaining wall, ending his night and bringing out the first caution on lap 1. On the restart, Randolph’s Eric “Teapot” Johnson took off with Williamstown’s MacAskill to his outside. The side-by-side duo led the field till lap 13 when the caution flag reared up again for the flat right front tire of Kaiden Fisher as he came to a halt in turn three.

The Johnson versus MacAskill battle began all over again on the restart, neither giving each other an inch before Johnson pulled away in the low groove. In the closing laps, MacAskill gave it his all, taking his 3VT Monte Carlo to the extreme outside groove on the straightaways for even the slightest advantage on Johnson to no avail. Eric Johnson took down his first Thunder Road win of the season followed closely by Michael MacAskill and Tyler Austin. In post race technical inspection, Austin was stripped of the finish with unapproved steering components giving Milton’s Robert Gordon the third-place finish.

photo by Alan Ward
In
Late Model Victory Lane on Nolato Night were (left to right) Stephen Martin (3rd), winner Kyle Pembroke, Phil Scott (2nd).

In the Street Stocks, a different MacAskill was cashing in on a hard-charging day. After winning his heat race, Kyle MacAskill took his pole starting position and ran with it, chased by 28 other four-cylinder competitors. Under the green, MacAskill got the break on the outside of Paige Whittemore and took off like a rocket. Before long, “The Biffer” Mike Gay followed MacAskill on the outside and stayed tight with two orange rigs leading the way.

The first and only caution would fly on lap 12 when Taylor Hoar went sliding through the wet infield after the tap from leading rookie Zach Audet. Both cars would restart on the tail end of the field as a result. On the restart MacAskill took off with Tyler Whittemore glued to his rear bumper and stayed that way till the very end. Kyle MacAskill turned around a hard year with a win followed by Tyler Whittemore and Jeffery Martin to round out the Street Stock podium. Martin and Justin “El Chopo” Blakely took the two other heat race wins.

After taking off with the first Late Model heat race win, Danville’s Tyler Cahoon also took off with the early race lead in the 50-lap trophy dash. Followed by rookie Stephen Martin and Phil Scott, it was the side-by-side race for fourth between Chris Roberts and Cooper Bouchard that was turning heads. Unfortunately, after leading the first half of the 50-lap event, Cahoon’s car went soft and slowed hard on the backstretch as he limped to the pit area for repairs. Worse still, a big pile-up in turn two brought out the first caution and ended the night for Laci Potter, Eric Chase, Marcel Gravel and Brandon Lanphear.

photo by Alan Ward
In Street Stock Victory Lane on Nolato Night were (left to right) Jeffery Martin (3rd), winner Kyle MacAskill, Tyler Whittemore (2nd).

On the restart, the all-time division wins leader Phil Scott used his expertise on the outside and claimed the top spot quickly over Stephen Martin. With ten laps to go, Scott had a shrinking lead as Martin creeped closer and Kyle Pembroke used the outside groove to his advantage. Coming to lap 43, Martin and Scott had contact allowing Pembroke to charge past the two of them for the lead. Kyle Pembroke would cross the line first just seven laps later followed by Phil Scott and Stephen Martin.

Lastly came the Road Warrior Challenge. Following full driver introductions to the crowd, the mayhem of the Road Warriors began. At the start it was a neck-and-neck duel between Milton’s Jason Kirby and Waterbury’s Ryan Foster until a lap car forced Kirby to concede the inside lane. The first caution came out at lap 24 with a massive pile-up in turn two as everyone tried to avoid the spinning youngster Keegan Taber. On the restart Barre’s Chris ‘Creature’ Couture took off followed by Tayler Sayers, Foster, Ryan Sayers and Nate “Tater” Brien.

The top-five lead pack duked it out amongst themselves as they carefully navigated lap traffic on the Thunder Road highbanks. On lap 33, Taylor Sayers punched a hole underneath “Creature” coming out of turn four and it was lights out. Taylor Sayers took down his first Thunder Road victory to the tune of $500 for the Road Warrior Challenge win followed by Ryan Foster and Nate Brien to round out the podium.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS

(local competitors)

Oil Late Models – 50 Laps

3. 01VT, Stephen Martin, Craftsbury Common

18. 86VT, Marcel J. Gravel, Wolcott

Flying Tigers – 40 Laps

15. 01VT, Michael Martin, Craftsbury Common

DSQ 5VT, Tyler Austin, East Calais, VT**

**Disqualified for Unapproved Steering Components

Street Stocks – 25 Laps

14. 34, Patrick Tibbetts, Plainfield