Thursday, July 5th
BARRE, VT - Hometown racer Cody Blake made his post-holiday celebration count by taking his second Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model win of the season at Renewable Energies Night on Thursday, July 5. Blake motored to the lead halfway through the 50-lap feature and never looked back on a night where four other main events on the Thunder Road high banks saw first-time winners.
Blake started eighth on the grid and steadily worked his way through the field, which was interrupted only briefly by a hard duel with Stephen Donahue for third. He was running second when the second and final caution flew for Chris Pelkey's spin on lap 15, which put him alongside fellow Barre driver Jim "Boomer" Morris on the restart.
After several unsuccessful bids, Blake finally made the outside work, surging to the lead as the field completed lap 25. He seemingly got stronger as the race went on, pulling away in the closing circuits for his fifth career Late Model victory. Blake also unofficially took over the points lead in the process.
Donahue tried several times to get around Morris for second, but was unable to do so, as Morris earned the runner-up spot. Brendan Moodie and Trampas Demers both made strong moves early in the event before settling for fourth and fifth. Eric Chase, Kyle Pembroke, Evan Hallstrom, Darrell Morin, and Scott Dragon rounded out the top-10. Jason Corliss, who entered the event as the co-point leader, was forced out early to a steering problem.
Rookie Cooper Bouchard of Hinesburg bounced back from a rough stretch of wrecked race cars to take his first Lenny's Shoe & Apparel Flying Tiger victory. The former Street Stock ace started on the pole and easily held off charges from E. Calais' Tyler Austin in the middle stages of the event. But the second and final caution, which flew on lap 32 when third-place runner Kelsea Woodard got tangled up during a three-wide scramble around lapped traffic, put fellow rookie and previous winner Brandon Lanphear on Bouchard's bumper.
Morrisville's Lanphear quickly went to second on the restart, and when he swung to the outside, it looked like curtains for Bouchard. But Lanphear's father Dwayne filled the hole on the inside, and the resulting battle between father and son let Bouchard get just enough breathing room for the win.
Dwayne nipped Brandon for second in a photo finish. Craftsbury Common's Joel Hodgdon finished fourth to keep the championship battle razor-close. Austin, Matt Potter, Cameron Ouellette, Mike Billado, Robert Gordon, and Trevor Lyman completed the top-10.
St. Johnsbury's Kasey Beattie became the youngest winner in Thunder Road history by taking the Allen Lumber Street Stock feature. The 14-year-old started on the pole, but faced heavy pressure from teammate Dean Switser Jr. of Lyndonville for the entire 25-lap feature.
Williamstown's Tommy Smith, the winningest driver In Street Stock history, entered the fray as well following the event's only caution on lap 16. But the young Beattie fended them both off with a veteran's poise to take the victory.
Smith edged Switser at the line for second. Point leader Matthew Smith and sophomore Logan Powers completed the top-5. Jeffrey Martin, rookie Juan Marshall, Scott Weston, Jamie Davis, and Tim Hunt also earned top-10 finishes.
Johnson's Michael Stearns was the victory in the first Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warrior Twin 25. "Captain America" worked his way up from the 10th starting position to grab the lead from Todd Raymo at the halfway point. He then motored off into the sunset for his first career win.
Tuesday's winner Frank Putney of Graniteville tried to chase down Stearns in the closing laps but settled for second. S. Royalton's Derek Farnham completed the podium. Sean McCarthy, Jayme Lee, James Dopp, Kyle MacAskill, Fred Fleury, Todd Raymo, and Brodie Frazier rounded out the top-10.
Williamstown's McCarthy benefitted from some unexpected luck on the way to the win in the second Twin 25. McCarthy was challenging Wolcott's Issac Spaulding for the top spot when the caution flew on lap 18 for Farnham's stopped vehicle entering turn one. During the yellow, Spaulding suddenly went to the pits, handing the lead to McCarthy. He then pulled away from fellow Williamstown driver Jayme Lee down the stretch for the win. Eric Chase rounded out the podium and was followed by Stearns, MacAskill, Raymo, Dopp, Fleury, Frazier, and Putney.
Hometown driver Tyler Pepin became the fourth first-time winner of the night in the Marvin Johnson Memorial. Pepin dominated the caution-free 19-lap event, but nearly lost the lead to Bryan P. Wall after encountering a lapped car in the closing circuits. Wall made a bid for the lead in the final corner before Pepin was able to shut the door. J.T. Blanchard, Juan Marshall, and Justin Blakely completed the top-5.
The month of July marches on at Thunder Road next Thursday, July 12 at 7:00pm with Consolidated Communications Night. Round two of the Myers Container Services Triple Crown Series for the Lenny's Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers is on the card along with the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models and Allen Lumber Street Stocks.
Courtesy: Thunder Road