Barre, VT — The most important event of the summer for Thunder Road competitors goes to post this Thursday, July 26 at 7:00pm. The Times Argus Mid-Season Championships will see all four divisions compete in added-distance features, and with double points on the line, countless title hopes likely hang in the balance.
A multi-way “King of the Road” battle continues to rage, and with the increased stakes, the pressure for some will be sky-high. Barre’s Cody Blake and Jason Corliss, South Burlington’s Trampas Demers, and Milton’s Scott Dragon have lived up to their pre-season billing as title contenders. All four know a great run on double-points night would position them for the title while a rough outing would leave a huge hole to climb out of.
“If you had a substantial lead, you might be able to take fewer chances – but I don’t think any of us have that option,” Demers said. “Right now it’s about managing points, and double-points night is really going to create your fate on how the rest of the season goes for you. The extra distance has definitely worked in our favor in the past. We’ve won the Mid-Season Championships (in 2014) and finished second in it. The extra laps give you more time to get up through the field and get in position for – hopefully – the finish you’re looking for.”
Demers sits in a tie with Cody Blake atop the standings as the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models prepare for their 75-lap main event. Dragon is 19 points behind the duo in third while Corliss is 21 points back in fourth. The four main contenders finished in the top-4 spots at last week’s Vermont Governor’s Cup, showing once again they can get it done in longer affairs.
But others could enter the title picture with a strong run. Northfield’s Even Hallstrom and Barre’s Jim “Boomer” Morris sit 55 and 59 points behind the top spot. With 150 points awarded to Thursday’s feature winner, either could vault up the leaderboard. Wolcott’s Brendan Moodie and Graniteville’s Stephen Donahue have already visited Victory Lane this season and would make huge gains should they do so again.
Many more will view the Mid-Season Championships as a way to salvage a rough year. Montpelier’s Kyle Pembroke, Wolcott’s Marcel J. Gravel, and Danville’s Tyler Cahoon are just three racers whose seasons haven’t lived up to expectations. But all three know a win would turn things around in a hurry.
In both the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers and Allen Lumber Street Stocks, the Mid-Season Championships are an opportunity for the field to close on the top dog. Craftsbury’s Joel Hodgdon currently has a firm grip on the Flying Tiger point lead. He sits 88 points ahead of Morrisville’s Brandon Lanphear, who is his closest challenger after Dwayne Lanphear elected not to finish the season. But one badly-timed off night would radically alter the landscape.
Hinesburg’s Trevor Lyman, Barre’s Cameron Ouellette, and Craftsbury’s Mike Martin are among those in position should Hodgdon stumble. Grand Isle’s Joe Steffen has endured some tough July luck, but he has been fast all season and will have a great chance to get back in contention.
Essex Junction’s Matthew Smith has yet to be knocked from his pedestal atop the Street Stocks this season – but double-points night is a prime chance for the competition to do so. Smith rides 59 points ahead of Craftsbury’s Stephen Martin, who made the leap to second overall after visiting Victory Lane last week. Lyndonville’s Dean Switser Jr., Derby’s Tim Hunt, and Middlesex’s Logan Powers are all within 13 points of Martin.
The drama is set to begin this Thursday, July 26 at 7:00pm. The Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors join the Late Models, Flying Tigers, and Street Stocks, and all four classes will take part in the track’s annual Driver Autograph Session at intermission. The pits will open at 3:30pm and the front gates will open at 5:15pm. Admission for the high-octane night is just $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