Barre, VT — Thunder Road is getting ready for the final point-counting event of the year this Friday, September 17. Efficiency Vermont Championship Night on FloRacing will decide which drivers get to call themselves 2021 track champions for the rest of time.
The Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models, Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, and RK Miles Street Stocks are crowning their title winners in the Friday night special. The Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors wrap up the last weekly racing event of Thunder Road’s 62nd season. The event is the final prelude to Vermont Milk Bowl Weekend on October 1-3, which will feature the 59th Northfield Savings Bank Milk Bowl plus eight other divisions.
Barre’s Jason Corliss is one night away from his third straight “King of the Road” title. Only two previous drivers have pulled the “three-peat” in Thunder Road annuals. Chuck Beede won the first three Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model titles from 1992-1994. Derrick O’Donnell then matched the feat in 2013-2015.
Corliss, on the strength of a record five Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model wins in one season, has a 43-point lead over Graniteville’s Christopher Pelkey. If Corliss finishes 15th or better in the extra-distance 62-lap feature on Friday, he will clinch the title no matter what Pelkey does in the feature or qualifying.
One other potential factor looms, though: Saturday is the due date for the birth of Corliss’s second child. Corliss will have Mike Ziter on standby as a substitute driver should he need to leave prior to qualifying. Ziter is a multi-time Flying Tiger winner at Thunder Road and was a solid competitor for several years on the ACT Late Model Tour. Should Corliss depart to be with his wife, his championship bid will be in capable hands.
Although Corliss and Pelkey are virtually assured of finishing 1-2 in some order, the rest of the top-10 is a cattle call. Shelburne’s Trampas Demers maintained the third spot despite a midrace crash last Friday. However, ninth-place Stephen Donahue still has a mathematical chance of finishing third overall.
Tyler Cahoon, Marcel J. Gravel, and Brendan Moodie are all gunning for career-best point positions. Morrisville’s Brandon Lanphear sewed up the Rookie of the Year award with his victory at WDEV Radio/Calkins Portable Toilets Night and now wants more.
The closest point battle of all is in the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, where the Martin family feud has come down to the wire. Dad Michael Martin has a seven-point lead over son Stephen. Although Stephen leads the division in top-5s and top-10s, Michael has outpaced him in qualifying, and those valuable points are making the difference so far.
If the Craftsbury Common duo holds serve in qualifying, Stephen will have to either beat Michael by four spots in the feature or win it outright to be the champion. On the other hand, Stephen could take the point lead during the heat races and change everything. Suffice to say fans will want to stay in their seats for the entire 40-lap Flying Tiger showdown.
Like with the Late Models, it will be exciting to watch as the rest of the Flying Tiger top-10 is decided. Ten drivers are very much alive for the final eight spots. Cameron Ouellette currently leads the herd, but he has Derrick Calkins, Bryan Wall Jr., and Jaden Perry hot on his tail.
The Flying Tiger Rookie of the Year title is also up in the air. Tanner Woodard took the rookie lead from Brandon Gray last time out, but Gray can take it back with a good run.
In the RK Miles Street Stocks, Shelburne’s Kaiden “Tropical Storm” Fisher is on the brink of becoming the youngest champion in Thunder Road’s 62-year history. Fisher, who will turn 14 next weekend, holds a 61-point lead over Berlin’s Kyler Davis. Even after figuring in heat race points, the only realistic way for Davis to catch the leader is for Fisher to break down in practice or qualifying.
That’s not to say there won’t be any drama. Josh Lovely, Jamie Davis, and Justin Blakely could all steal a spot in the overall top-five from Jeffery Martin or Dean Switser Jr. Luke Peters has the final banquet invite as of now, but Kyle MacAskill and Will Hennequin both want it. Several notables, including Kyler Davis and James Dopp, are still looking for their first win of the year, and this is their last chance on the weekly schedule to get it.
The Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors don’t run for points, but they’ve had one of the most intriguing years of all. An incredible six different drivers are now first-time Road Warrior winners. Two of them, “Flyin’” Fred Fleury and Mark “Black Magic” Beaulieu, have made return trips to Victory Lane. All the while, veterans such as Josh Vilbrin, Nate “Tater” Brien, and Frank Putney continue to show the ropes week in and week out.
Thunder Road closes out the 2021 weekly racing season this Friday, September 17 at 7:00pm with Efficiency Vermont Championship Night. The Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models are going 62 laps to decide the “King of the Road”. The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, RK Miles Street Stocks, and Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors also have a full card of racing.
Admission is $15 for adults, $5 for kids ages 6-12, $30 for a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids) and free for kids ages 5 and under. Advance tickets are available at http://www.happsnow.com/event/thunder-road-speedbowl. The event will also be televised live on FloRacing for those with a paid subscription.
For more information, contact the Thunder Road offices at (802) 244-6963, email@example.com, or visit http://www.thunderroadvt.com. You can also get updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @ThunderRoadVT.
Thunder Road Speedbowl