BARRE – As if the battle between Derek Griffith, D.J. Shaw and Evan Hallstrom on Saturday night wasn’t enough, the 25th Community Bank N.A. 150 blasted as the bookend of the 64th season opener weekend for Thunder Road. Hometown boy Jason Corliss was able to overcome mechanical woes to tie Nick Sweet as four-time winners of the American-Canadian Tour Community Bank 150 while the Thunder Road weekly divisions jump-started their 2023 season.
The Street Stocks continued with 34 cars flooding the pit area to continue their 2022 season average of 30-plus cars per event. Fan-favorite Juan “Paco” Marshall led the early goings from the pole starting position but it was former winner James Dopp who got the advantage. Slowed by just one caution period, sophomore campaigner Cam Powers used the restart to track down Dopp with Tyler Whittemore also using the slow-down to jump up top. In the end, James Dopp would take down the Street Stock victory followed by Powers and Whittemore to round out the podium.
The Flying Tigers began the year 31 strong to put on a show for the opening day crowd. After two rounds of qualifying, Kyle Streeter and Phil Potvin led the field down to start the season two-by-two. In a similar story, the Flying Tigers put on a barn-burner with Streeter and third-place starter Jason Pelkey setting the tone up front for much of the race. The two ran nose-to-tail in and around lapped traffic before defending Tiger champion Sam Caron entered the mix. With five-to-go, Caron made his way into second and set his sights on the lead. Growing ever closer with each pass over the start/finish line, Kyle Streeter would take the win and the Community Bank bonus by just a fender over Sam Caron with Logan Powers powering up to take third.
The crowd of weekly Late Models racers who took on the American-Canadian Tour travel teams made their presence known with every full-time Late Model driver from 2022, who entered the event, qualifying into the main event. Former Flying Tiger winner Bryan Wall Jr. paced the 30-car field to start alongside former Flying Tiger track champion Jimmy Hebert to start the 150-lap event. Wall, Hebert and former King of the Road Bobby Therrien drove the doors off their rigs at the front of the field.
An all-Thunder Road front row saw Hebert and Therrien take heat from Cody Blake and defending King of the Road Christopher Pelkey all over their rear bumper. A rough-and-tumble race would ensue but through and through it was a hometown driver at the helm of the touring stars. With a completely dislodged power steering pump and a flat tire that forced him to drive through the field twice, former three-peat track champion Jason Corliss powered through in the final restart against Cody Blake to take his fourth Community Bank 150, matching Nick Sweet’s four-win-record. Williamstown’s Jimmy Hebert held on for second while a charging Marcel Gravel took third.
The Road Warriors may have ended the afternoon’s festivities, but it was far from quiet. “Flyin” Fred Fleury led the field to green as a collection of fan-favorites and new faces dotted the novice four-cylinder division. Lap traffic became a factor early, but it wasn’t enough to slow Flyin Fred. He weaved in and out of lap cars all while defending Mini Milk Bowl winner Taylor Sayers chased him down through the traffic. In the end it was too little, too late with Fred Fleury taking down his first win of the season followed by Taylor Sayers and Car Show winner Ben Bushey rounding out the podium.
Thunder Road comes back to life in three weeks with the 60th Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic. Opening the points season for the Late Models with their 125-lap Memorial Day Classic, the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series returns with the Granite City 100 for the Tour-type Modifieds to open their 2023 campaign. The Flying Tigers, Street Stocks and Road Warriors join the line-up for the event on Sunday, May 28.
American-Canadian Tour – 25th Community Bank N.A. (150 Laps)
3. 86VT, Marcel J. Gravel, Wolcott
16. 94VT, Brendan Moodie, Wolcott
28. 01VT, Stephen Martin, Craftsbury Common
DNQ 92VT, Jaden Perry, Hardwick
Flying Tigers (40 Laps)
19. 5VT, Tyler Austin, East Calais
23. 22VT, Travis Patnoe, Wolcott
Street Stocks (25 Laps)
12., 5, Kyle Gravel, Wolcott
31., 34, Patrick Tibbetts, Plainfield