Barre, VT – Hometown racer Jason Corliss remained the man to beat at Thunder Road with a dominating victory in the 57th Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic on Sunday, May 26. Corliss took the lead on lap 27 of the 100-lap event and was never challenged the rest of the way en route to his fourth straight victory on the Barre high banks dating back to the 2018 season.
After earning the second starting spot in qualifying, Corliss drifted back to fifth in the early going while polesitter Christopher Pelkey of Graniteville set the pace. But it didn’t take long for Corliss to flip the switch. As the long green flag run continued, Corliss lashed back to the front of a battle that reached nine cars at times, moving around the outside of Pelkey for the lead on the 27th circuit.
Corliss’s biggest scare came on lap 46 when Darrell Morin got into Stephen Donahue as the two fought to stay on the lead lap. Donahue spun in turn four to bring out the event’s lone caution and Corliss was able to barely miss him by moving high.
On the restart, Corliss made quick work of Fayston’s Brooks Clark and pulled back out to a straightaway lead in just six laps. Part of his big lead was erased when Corliss spent several laps waiting out a pack of lapped cars as they jockeyed for position. But when his path cleared, Corliss set sail once again, earning his 14th career Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model win and second Memorial Day Classic triumph. The fourth straight victory matched a feat last seen at Thunder Road by Clem Despault in 1983.
Clark crossed the line second but was penalized to the last car on the lead lap for a suspension violation. The penalty handed the second position to Northfield’s Matt White after he fended off Wolcott’s Marcel J. Gravel in the closing circuits. Gravel became the new third-place finisher. Trampas Demers, Scott Dragon, Phil Scott, Pelkey, Boomer Morris, Stephen Donahue, and Josh Masterson rounded out the top-10.
Hudson, NH’s Derek Griffith took control late in the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Model 150 to grab his first win at Thunder Road. The defending PASS National Champion got the top spot for the first time from early leader Derek Ramstrom on lap 71. However, defending PASS North Champion and current point leader D.J. Shaw of Center Conway, NH wasn’t far behind.
Griffith and Shaw then went tooth and nail during the race’s middle stages. Shaw got underneath Griffith to put the bumper in front on lap 88, but Griffith used a lap car as a pick two circuits later to get the lead back. Following the race’s third caution on lap 111, Shaw used a crossover move to get inside for the lead once again. But Griffith pulled a similar move a few laps later and pulled away before surviving a five-lap sprint to the finish after one final yellow.
Shaw and Hudson, NH’s Joey Polewarcyk went back-and-forth following the final restart for the runner-up spot after Northfield’s Evan Hallstrom shut down during the caution while running third. After “Joey Pole” initially grabbed the position, Shaw got back by with two laps to go, leaving Pole in third. They were chased to the line by Travis Benjamin, Garrett Hall, Gabe Brown, Nick Sweet, Ben Rowe, Reid Lanpher, and Ramstrom.
Hardwick’s Jaden Perry was able to hold off a late challenge to earn his first career Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tiger win. The former Rookie of the Year started sixth and went to the outside to take the lead from polesitter Robert Gordon of Milton on lap 10 of the 40-lap feature.
Perry easily held onto the lead through several restarts, but the final caution with five laps to go put Grand Isle’s Joe Steffen to his outside. Steffen, who was gunning to become the division’s all-time wins leader, hung tough on the restart and even led lap 38 by a nose. But Perry found some grip and got back by him for the victory.
Morrisville’s Brandon Lanphear also got beneath Steffen on the final lap for his second straight runner-up finish. E. Calais’s Tyler Austin and Craftsbury’s Stephen Martin took fourth and fifth followed by Gordon, Micheal MacAskill, Cameron Ouellete, Brad Bushey, and Kelsea Woodard.
Barre’s Jeffrey Martin rebounded from an Opening Day crash to score the victory in the Allen Lumber Street Stocks. Martin started on the pole of the 25-lap feature and ran away early. He then easily held off E. Kingston, NH’s Bryan P. Wall after two cautions, including a red flag on lap-18 when Frank Putney barrel-rolled into the turn one tire barriers, to take the win.
Wall finished a career-best second while Pittsfield’s Juan “Paco” Marshall held off Jamie Davis and Kasey Beattie for third. Jacob Roy, Kasey Collins, Scott Weston, J.T. Blanchard, and Michael Gay also earned top-10 finishes.
Brookfield’s Nate “Tater” Brien joined Corliss in being two-for-two on the season by taking his second straight Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warrior win. Brien started way back in 19th for the 20-lap feature but charged through the field and got past polesitter Brodie Frazier on lap 14 for the victory.
E. Montpelier’s Frazier finished second followed by Berlin’s Chris Davis in third. Josh Vilbrin, Chris Morse, Patrick Lacasse, Fred Fleury, Todd Raymo, Brian Putney, and Trevor Jacques completed the top-10.
Thunder Road opens its nightly racing schedule with a special Friday event on June 7 at 7:00pm. Capitol City Auto Mart Night will feature the Myers Container Service Triple Crown opener for the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers along with the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models, Allen Lumber Street Stocks, and Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors. The annual Kids Rides will be held from 4:00-4:40pm with youngsters getting the chance to ride around the high banks. Admission is $12 for adults, $3 for kids ages 6-12, and $25 for a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids.)
For more information, contact the Thunder Road offices at (802) 244-6963, [email protected], or visit www.thunderroadvt.com.
-Thunder Road Press Release
-Photo credit: Alan Ward