BARRE – Rain once again played its part in a Thursday at Thunder Road after plenty of the wet stuff fell from the sky to delay the start of practice on Portable Toilets night. Officials remained persistent and dried the track on three separate occasions with the sun helping out on the final session. Through it all, persistence paid off with fans witnessing one of the best Late Model events of the season as the King of the Road championship chase continues to be as close as ever this year.
Paige Whittemore and Scott Weston would kick off feature racing, leading the thirty-car Street Stock field down to the green flag. Peace didn’t last long with the night’s first major caution piling up that same thirty-car field in turn three with everyone except Midseason Champion Josh Lovely able to return. On the restart Weston led rookie Logan Farrell with Juan Paco Marshall, Tyler Whittemore and fellow rookie Ryan Foster in tow. Derek Farnham would quickly take over the lead from Weston, but all eyes were on Farrell.
Using the outside groove, the Barre rookie gained back five car-lengths on Farnham to lead lap 20 by just six-one-thousands of a second. An ecstatic Farrell turned around his heartbreaking loss last Thursday due to mechanical issues to claim his first career Thunder Road victory followed by Farnham and Tyler Whittemore to round out the Portable Toilets podium.
In the Flying Tigers it was Phil Potvin and Mike Billado at the helm until a lap four caution for the stopped Brandon Gray on the backstretch with a flat right front shoe. Billado would get the outside groove advantage on Potvin under the restart with Cameron Ouellette looking to follow just behind. Logan Powers tries to take it three-wide under Colin Cornell and Robert Gordon to battle back in the points as the first eight rows remain side-by-side. At the halfway point Ouellette’s first half follow-the-leader mentality flipped as he started to eye the low side of Billado’s line around the high banks.
As the two battled, Kevin Streeter made the most of the outside lane to lead lap 28 with Adam Maynard in tow close behind before the rear-end cut loose on Billado to a smoke-filled spin on the front stretch to bring out the caution with ten to go. Kevin Streeter faced-off with Adam Maynard on the final restart but Ouellette refused to back-down. At the line Kevin Streeter would nab his first win of the season followed by Cameron Ouellette beginning to find speed in his machine and Adam Maynard’s return to the podium in third.
Using the outside lane to his advantage in heat three, longtime veteran Chip Grenier would take a plus-four handicap to earn the pole of the 44th Vermont Governor’s Cup. Starting off the 150-lap chase, Grenier drove the wheels off his Chevy Camaro as Scott Dragon reeled him in from a third-place starting position to take over the lead on lap nine. The first caution on lap 33 for a spinning Justin Prescott down the backstretch re-racked the field with Dragon facing off with Grenier at the line as Grenier led the way with a strong car on the outside groove.
After leading a majority of the first 50 laps, Grenier would lose the lead to Marcel Gravel on the lap 56 restart following Cody Schoolcraft’s spin in turn three. Gravel would only extend his lead through heavy lap traffic as Dragon, Grenier and defending Governor’s Cup champion Jason Corliss chased him down. Tyler Cahoon’s halted ride in turn three would prompt the caution on lap 114 setting up a 31-lap nose-to-tail chase between Dragon, Gravel, Grenier and Corliss as they rode the top line all the way around the Speedbowl.
The final caution for Darrell Morin’s hard contact with the Widowmaker front stretch wall saw the final showdown between Marcel Gravel and Scott Dragon. Dragon took the high-speed advantage on the outside to power up to his third-career Vermont Governor’s Cup victory just five laps later. Marcel Gravel would keep his speed up to finish second followed by Jason Corliss, Nick Sweet and Chip Grenier to round out the top-five.
In the final event of the night, Keegan Tabor stormed off with the lead in the Road Warriors as outside polesitter Zach Garvey dropped like a rock on the outside. Though not out of the clear, rising young-gun Karsen Murphy started to work his way into the front row along with Neal Foster and Jason Kirby. The first yellow would flash on lap eight as a crisscrossed frontstretch melee saw Nate “Tater” Brien, Kirby and Murphy slide into the infield grass at full song as “Flyin’” Fred Fleury stopped with a flat right rear tire.
After leading the restart, Keegan Tabor lost his footing in turn three and gathered it back up just to be smacked on the front stretch with Karsen Murphy smashing the Widowmaker, leaving plenty of parts scattered across the racing surface. In the final restart, Neal Foster put the pedal to the metal and took down his first win of the 2023 season followed by last-week’s winner Tyler Wheatley and Jason Kirby.
Port-a-Potty Grand Prix Champion
Late Models – Vermont Governor’s Cup 150
2. 86VT, Marcel J. Gravel, Wolcott
10. 94VT, Brendan Moodie, Wolcott
13. 01VT, Stephen Martin, Craftsbury Common
15. 92VT, Jaden Perry, Hardwick
22. 38VT, Tyler Cahoon, Danville
Flying Tigers – (40 Laps)
10. 8NH, Joel Hodgdon, Craftsbury Common
19. 22VT, Travis Patnoe, Wolcott
Street Stocks – (25 Laps)
13. 34, Patrick Tibbetts, Plainfield
23. 5, Kyle Gravel, Wolcott