BARRE – The final Thursday night of the 2022 Thunder Road season was one to remember as the championship point battles begin to come down just inches of fiberglass and seconds on the clock. Jet Service Envelope/Accura Printing Night brought the Road Warriors their second first-time winner in two weeks, a rookie that led a flag-to-flag Street Stock sprint and two stories of determination and time spent in the shop to get their respective mounts back on top at Thunder Road.
Road Warrior veteran “No-Look” Nick Copping took off like a rocket with the early lead over Worcester’s Rodney Campbell in their 20-lap main event. Barre’s Ryan Sayers stalked and followed before engaging the sling-shot around Copping on the backstretch with just five laps remaining. The charge was short lived with a huge lap-15 pile up in turn three taking down veteran “Flyin” Fred Fleury and newbies Tyler Wheatley and Conner Noyes. On the restart, Ryan Sayers took the jump of his life and never looked back, taking his first Thunder Road win followed by Nick Copping and “Barbie Boy” Frank Putney to round out the first feature event of the night.
The Street Stocks were 32 cars strong at the start of their 25-lap feature as Williamstown’s Kyle MacAskill missed the shift and plugged up the inside lane. After earning the pole, rookie driver Curtis Franks sped away from number-two-man Thomas Peck as wily veteran Scott Weston stayed hot on his tail. Lap 13 would see Haiden Pearce dive into the front stretch grass as his Cavalier lost all power with Juan “Paco” Marshall similarly heading his Neon into the infield with a flat right-rear on Lap 22.
Impressively, Franks held off all challengers in the green to checkers event as the remainder of the 32 car field jumped and jolted around each other with both lanes of highway in rush hour. After easily 20 wrecks that could’ve happened, but didn’t, the final lap turned things sour. A gaggle of top-10 cars went haywire in turn three as they stared down the checkered flag just 300 feet ahead. Top point chasers Jeffrey Martin, Josh Lovely and Kyler Davis were all involved as rookie Curtis Franks took down his first Street Stock win followed by Scott Weston and Mekaylah Bowen. Bowen would be disqualified in post-race technical inspection for a weight infraction, giving third to Johnson’s Jamie Davis.
The annual Run-What-U-Brung tradition was far from a calming intermission with over 20 amateurs ready to duke it out at their home track. Four-door pickups, four-cylinder sedans, Dodge Durango’s and Chevy Camaros battled hard for the final Thursday Night crowd knowing only one victor would reign supreme. After Peter Childs earned the four-cylinder top honors and Nathan Felch took down the V-8 top spot, the crowd demanded an overall championship match.
While the two were evenly matched through turns one and two, the Camaro showed its superior handling, powering into turn three until the ol’ girl kicked sidewise. Felch would overcorrect his 1988 Chevy and slammed hard into the Widowmaker front stretch wall with Childs taking the overall win.
The 40-lap Flying Tigers took the field, attempting to follow-up the act of a lifetime with the crashing crunch of an ’80s vintage Camaro. Adam Maynard took the early lead through the first five laps from the pole as a side-by-side battle with Mike MacAskill began in earnest. MacAskill, using the outside lane, methodically got around the #45VT of Maynard on lap 10 with another short-lived run. The first caution of the night would fly on lap 11 for the spinning machines of Matt Ballard, Kevin Streeter, Eric Johnson and Phil Potvin in turn two.
On the restart, it was Tanner Woodard and MacAskill with last-week’s winner Mike Billado and Myers Triple Crown Champion Derrick Calkins stalking the leaders. After making a valiant effort on the outside, MacAskill’s #3VT got loose coming out of turn four on lap, allowing Woodard an open raceway ahead. As Woodard stretched his lead, the battle for 8th became the highlight of the field as rookie contender Kaiden Fisher duked it out side-by-side with Maynard, bottlenecking the rest of the field. With Woodard just inches away from lapping the back end of the field, he took down the double-checkers on Jet Service/Accura Printing Night followed by Mike Billado and Derrick Calkins.
Rounding out the night, a stout field of Late Models entered the track for the final Thursday Night of the season. Waterford’s Andy Hill took the early lead as Marcel Gravel, Tyler Cahoon and Keegan Lamson started taking it three-wide on lap two. By lap 10, Brandon Lanphear gained some steam under the hood and took to Hill’s outside, making his #16VT work hard to gain inches on Hill. The first caution flag would wave on lap 22 for the flat front and broken front end of Chris Roberts.
On the restart, with Hill low and Lanphear high, the field took off again until Darrell Morin tried to get to the bottom coming off turn two and into the backstretch under Hill. The chain reaction caused Hill to sweep up the track into Lamson with Lamson taking Lanphear hard into the turn three wall, the reverberating thud felt throughout the crowd and ending his strong run. Once again it was Hill down low and now Morin up high with championship contenders Chris Pelkey, Scott Dragon and Kyle Pembroke close behind the two-by-two rows.
Following the final caution with eight-to-go for the spinning Cooper Bouchard in turn four, it was Morin versus Lamson with the side-by-side battle quickly giving way to a hard charging Marcel Gravel. Gravel quickly dispatched a loosening Lamson, jumping to the outside of Morin with three to go. Gravel would take the lead by a bumper shroud under the white flag, finally leading by a fender to take his second win of the season. Darrell Morin took home second with Keegan Lamson earning third.
Thunder Road roars back to life on Sunday, September 4th for the 44th New England Federal Credit Union Labor Day Classic. The Stars and Cars of the American-Canadian Tour return to their home track high atop Quarry Hill in Barre, for the $5,000-to-Win, 200 lap nightcap on the summer racing season. Alongside the Tour will be the Flying Tigers, Street Stocks and Road Warriors.
Late Models – 50 Laps
1. 86VT, Marcel J. Gravel. Wolcott
13. 01VT, Stephen Martin, Craftsbury Common
19. 94VT, Brendan Moodie. Wolcott
Flying Tigers – 40 Laps
5. 01VT, Michael Martin, Craftsbury Common
20. 5VT, Tyler Austin, East Calais
Street Stocks – 25 Laps
9. 34. Patrick Tibbetts, Plainfield