BARRE — Matt White has had plenty of speed at Thunder Road this year, but he hasn’t had the finishes to show for it. On Thursday night, he got the finish with a victory in the Vermont Tire & Service Late Model 50.
The Northfield veteran started fifth in the main event at the Quarry Hill track and quickly passed Gov. Phil Scott and Darrell Morin before the race’s lone caution period with five laps complete. At the restart, leader Ricky Roberts bobbled and washed up the track, allowing White to scoot from third into the top spot.
It was no contest from that point on, and White collected the seventh Late Model win of his career.
“There was a hole that opened up coming off Turn 2 and we had enough speed and good bite (traction), so I tried to get away,” White said. “I was afraid that (Jason) Corliss and Trampas (Demers) and some of those guys were going to come right up to us, but there was enough battling for position behind me that I was able to check out. Once I got a 20-car length lead I started backing off a little bit and just hoping that they didn’t catch up. No cautions was good for me.”
For White, the win was gratification after a sometimes frustrating season.
“I’ve had a ton of speed, and every week we’re fast on the speed charts, but we were just missing something and couldn’t put the deal together,” White said. “Tonight, we finally did it. We finished second a couple of weeks ago, we ran good in the Governor’s Cup (in July), we ran good on Memorial Day. But we were just missing something. We found it tonight.”
With the outside lane not working well for most cars and with the top nine drivers separated by 78 points in the championship standings, track position was key and forced several drivers to take chances. For some — like Barre’s Cody Blake — the risks paid off. For others — like Corliss, Demers and Marcel Gravel — those risks backfired.
Point leader Corliss started 11th on the grid and swung to the outside to try taking second place away from Barre’s Boomer Morris. But he couldn’t keep his car pinned to the top and tried a crossover move on the inside. Corliss nudged the Morris car, however, so Blake took full advantage and blasted past both on the outside. Blake couldn’t catch White but was happy with the runner-up showing.
“I was pretty lucky there,” Blake said. “Corliss was trying to get under the No. 13 (Morris), but he didn’t help the 13 at all. They both got a little loose going into Turn 1 and I just took advantage of it.”
Blake moved up to third in the points standings. He sits 21 points behind Corliss and five behind Scott Dragon. Blake was optimistic about his chances to catch and pass both drivers in the final two point-counting races.
“I feel like I’ve had the fastest car in the last two weeks,” Blake said. “I think we’ve got a good shot.”
Morris held off Corliss to finish third for his first top-five showing of the season, and Corliss had Kyle Pembroke close behind at the checkered flag.
Nick Sweet made a rare appearance and finished sixth, followed by Dragon, Christopher Pelkey, Demers and Gravel.
East Corinth’s Brian Putney scored his second win of the year in the rambunctious 20-lap Road Warrior feature. Third-generation Middlesex driver Haidyn Pearce finished second, with longtime Warrior racer James Dopp placing third. Dan Garrett Jr. and Chris Davis completed the top five.