Barre, VT — Thunder Road awards its first championship of the 2019 racing season this Thursday, August 8 at Cody Chevrolet-Cadillac Night. The 75-lap finale of the Myers Container Service Triple Crown for the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers is sure to be another barnburner with several top drivers very much alive for the series championship.
No matter who wins the main event on Thursday, the Triple Crown appears set to honor its third champion in as many seasons. Craftsbury drivers Mike Martin and Joel Hodgdon grabbed the first two series titles, but this year, the door is wide open for a new name from a new hometown to be etched on the trophy.
The current frontrunner is a name familiar to many Thunder Road fans. Waterbury Center’s Jason Woodard is a two-time Thunder Road Flying Tiger Champion and is searching for his first Triple Crown title. He currently holds a nine-point lead over Hardwick’s Jaden Perry after posting first- and second-place finishes in the first two series events. He also leads the season-long standings by 10 points over rookie Stephen Martin – another Craftsbury racer.
“We’re feeling really good,” Woodard said. “The car’s been good, and it looks like good weather for our setup. We work hard on having a good long-run car, and it’s been paying off. I always tell myself to be patient in these longer races and not do anything crazy early on. You have to hold on, be patient, and be there at the end. I think those are real strengths of our team, and it’s paying off for me.”
While Woodard is an established veteran, the pack chasing him is full of young standouts. In fact, the seven drivers directly behind Woodard all have spent three or fewer seasons behind the wheel of a Tiger car at Thunder Road. This means the opportunity is there for an up-and-comer to make their first big splash by capturing the Triple Crown title.
Perry, who returned to the Tiger ranks this season after a year off, is the closest challenger to Woodard with his nine-point gap. Waterbury Center’s Kelsea Woodard is 15 points behind her dad in third. Martin and Barre’s Jason Pelkey are tied for fourth 25 points back of the lead while second-round winner Colin Cornell of East Burke stands sixth overall. Hinesburg’s Cooper Bouchard and East Calais’s Tyler Austin remain mathematically alive in seventh and eighth should the cards fall in their favor.
“It’s been a blast racing against all these good young drivers,” Jason Woodard added. “Obviously I get to race against my daughter, but then you have all these other kids that are really, really good. It’s impressive how well they’re running. I don’t ask for any favors or special treatment from them on the track, and they don’t ask for any, either. We just race each other hard, and whoever’s best that night will win!”
Thursday’s Triple Crown finale will also play a big role in the chase for the 2019 track championship. Just five point-counting races remain for the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, putting the pressure on for the contenders. Jason Woodard is gunning for his third Tiger championship and surged to the top after winning the double-point Midseason Championships two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Stephen Martin is on a streak of 10 straight top-10 finishes in his first Tiger season after taking the Street Stock title last year.
Austin sits third in the season-long standings 33 points behind Woodard. The pack from fourth to eighth is tightly bunched with Kelsea Woodard, Brandon Lanphear, Logan Powers, Joe Steffen, and Micheal MacAskill all capable of making a late-season run.
A full round of championship action is also on deck for the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models and Allen Lumber Street Stocks. The Late Model “King of the Road” battle remains tight with the top-four separated by just 15 points. Barre’s Jason Corliss jumped to the top of the standings with his win last Thursday night while Shelburne’s Trampas Demers remains second 11 points behind.
Milton’s Scott Dragon and Montpelier’s Kyle Pembroke, who have combined for five wins this season, are now tied for third overall. Barre’s Cody Blake and Wolcott’s Marcel J. Gravel took hits in the points this past Thursday but will try to bounce back.
In the Allen Lumber Street Stocks, Barre’s Jeffrey Martin avoided a potential disaster late in Sunday’s Street Stock Special to maintain the points lead for the ninth straight event. St. Johnsbury’s Kasey Beattie jumped to second after his win in the 50-lap feature and is 46 points behind Martin. Tommy “Thunder” Smith, Tim Hunt, Dean Switser Jr., and Jamie Davis are also very much alive with five events to go.
The excitement of Cody Chevrolet-Cadillac Night begins this Thursday, August 8 at 7:00pm. The Myers Container Services Triple Crown Series finale for the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers highlights the card along with the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models and Allen Lumber Street Stocks. The pits open at 3:30pm and the front gates open at 5:15pm. Admission is $12 for adults, $3 for kids ages 6-12, and $25 for a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids).
-Thunder Road Press Release
-Photo credit: Alan Ward