O'Donnell wins 51st Memorial Day Classic - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

O'Donnell wins 51st Memorial Day Classic

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BARRE, Vt. -

North Haverhill's Derrick O'Donnell held off a late charge from King of the Road Nick Sweet to pick up the victory in his first-ever Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic at Barre's Thunder Road on Monday, May 27.

O'Donnell started third in the 30-car field, needing only six laps to claim the lead from South Burlington, VT's Trampas Demers. 2012 Thunder Road Track Champion Nick Sweet quickly worked his way from his 12th starting position to fifth by lap 41, and by lap 58, after the third of six caution periods, had cracked the top three. Sweet pulled into second with 12 laps to go looking to win his second Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic in a row, but the former Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman Champion O'Donnell held him off to become the 51st name in the Memorial Day Classic Granite Stone at Thunder Road.

"Man, we needed redemption after the Merchants Bank Race. I've been after myself for not performing how I would have liked, and this completely makes up for it," said O'Donnell in victory lane. "It doesn't get any better than this."

Sweet began his title defense with a solid second-place in the first point-counting event of the year for the Thunder Road Late Models.

"Derrick drove a great race. I just ran out of time, but that's what they all say right?" laughed Sweet at the podium. "This is a great way to start off the year. Props to Derrick and his team," he finished.

Demers rounded out the podium in third, while Turner, ME's Glen Luce and Graniteville, VT's Chip Grenier completed the top five after starting mid-pack. Scott Payea, Cody Blake, Dave Pembroke, Rookie Jason Corliss, and Jean-Paul Cyr rounded out the top ten. 38 cars attempted to qualify for the event. O'Donnell's victory qualified him for the Bond Auto ACT Invitational on Saturday, September 21 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH. He joins Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Brian Hoar, and Jimmy Hebert. O'Donnell's victory was not only the first Thunder Road Late Model point-counting event, but the first for the four-race Vermont State Championship Series.

The Devil's Bowl Dirt Modifieds hit the pavement at the Nation's Site of Excitement for the first time ever, seeing youngster Jessey Mueller take the opening event in the newly-created North Modified Challenge Series.

The race started with a red flag for a multi-car wreck that sent favorite Vince Quenneville, Jr. and several other Modifieds barreling over turn one. Modified standout Alex Bell assumed the lead until an incident with a teammate in lap traffic sent both cars over the turn 3 bank. This left the lead to Chazy, VT's Leon Gonyo, who held on until Mueller powered by him in the outside after the third of five caution periods. Gonyo followed Mueller to the line, with Modified legend Kenny Tremont, Jr. completing the podium in third.

"This is just awesome. I really hope we come back," said Mueller in victory lane. When asked what was going through his head with five laps to go, he said "I was just thinking C'mon boys. I got this!"

Bell recovered from his lap traffic incident to finish fourth in a door-banging finish with Middlebury, VT's Hunter Bates. Joe Williams, Bobby Therrien, Vince Quenneville, Cody Sargen, and Adam Bartemy rounded out the top ten.

Multi-time Dirt Champion Adam Pierson took his first victory at Thunder Road in the Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman division, holding off perennial contenders Eric Badore and Jason Allen in the caution free event.

Pierson took the lead early in the 25-lap race while the veterans worked their way through the 28-car field, building a healthy lead halfway through the event. Badore climbed quickly from mid-pack, along with two-time Tiger Champion Shawn Fleury, and ran down Pierson in the final laps. Badore closed in for the lead late, but a three-wide lap traffic move by Pierson sealed his first victory. Fleury ended up in a side-by-side drag race with Allen for third, but had to settle for fourth. John Lambert rounded out the top five.

"It's so hard to win here, it means a lot to do what we did here today," said Pierson in victory lane, after winning his heat, semi-feature, and feature. "I have got to say, I'm pretty psyched!"

Tommy "Thunder" Smith took his 26th career victory in the Allen Lumber Street Stocks, taking the lead from East Montpelier's Donny Yates with just five laps to go to take the checkers.

Yates took the lead after passing Jennifer Getty on the 8th circuit of the 25-lap event, bringing Smith, 2012 Rookie of the Year Dean Switser, Jr., and Jamie Davis behind him. A wild lap 9 flip down the front stretch by "Super" Joe Fecteau momentarily stopped the field, but when the green started again it was a door-to-door battle for the win between Smith and Yates. Smith finally took the lead on the outside, bringing Switser with him to finish second. Yates was forced to settle for third, followed by Davis and former Street Stock Champion Greg Adams.

Thunder Road will be back in action on Sunday, June 9 for a WLVB Twilight event. The Thunder Road Late Models, Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman, and Allen Lumber Street Stocks will continue their championship point battles, along with the New England Antique Racers who will make a special appearance. Post time for the event is 4:00pm.

Courtesy: Thunder Road

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