Milk Bowl

Late Model drivers compete at Thunder Road.

BARRE — Thunder Road will celebrate the nation’s independence Thursday with a big night of racing. The Aubuchon Hardware Holiday Spectacular arrives just as the 2019 season is starting to get serious at the top of Quarry Hill.

Thursday’s event will feature all four Thunder Road racing divisions plus a fireworks spectacular by Northstar Fireworks. The Independence Day event is one of the biggest of the year at Thunder Road.

“There’s just a lot of excitement about it,” Barre’s Jason Corliss said. “The fans come out two-fold — they come to see a great fireworks show and they come to see fantastic racing. At this point in the summer, storylines are starting to shape up as far as points, so that adds more of an element to it than some of the races earlier in the year. It brings a lot of excitement. And as a driver, it’s also exciting when you look up and see the stands full of people ready to watch a good show.”

The “King of the Road” title chase is poised to be a summer-long fireworks show. With the month of June in the books, the battle for the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model championship is wide open. The top seven drivers are separated by 25 points with several others just a couple good nights away from vaulting themselves into the hunt.

Corliss, the Opening Day winner, has led the Late Model point standings every step of the way. However, some of Thunder Road’s best are nipping at his heels. South Burlington’s Trampas Demers has steadily worked his way up the ranks and is six points behind Corliss in second. Demers is the only racer to finish in the top 10 of every feature this year.

Another hometown racer, Cody Blake, is 10 points out of the lead in third. Two-time “King of the Road” Scott Dragon and veteran Brooks Clark are both 11 points back in a tie for fourth. Montpelier’s Kyle Pembroke and three-time champion Phil Scott, both 2019 feature winners, are sixth and seventh, respectively. All have shown the speed to win this year’s title and could do so if the cards fall their way.

“Things have gone well for us to start the year,” Corliss said. “The way I was hoping this was going to shape up is that it wasn’t going to be another close points battle. But last week we hit a little bump and that helped tighten things up. We’re still on top, thankfully, which is where we want to be and where we want to stay. Now’s the point of the summer where you win a title — you have to stay focused during the weekly grind.”

In the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, there have been six different winners in six events. However, consistency has made rookie Stephen Martin the points leader. Martin leads the division with four top-five finishes and has a 33-point advantage over Williamstown’s Micheal MacAskill.

MacAskill is at the front of a logjam similar to the one in the Late Model ranks. East Calais driver Tyler Austin sits third, with Waterbury Center’s Jason and Kelsea Woodard tied for fourth. Kevin Streeter and Brandon Lanphear are sixth and seventh, respectively.

Those top drivers are a mere 19 points apart and all of them can make a run at Martin.

Barre’s Jeffrey Martin continues to be the top gun in the Allen Lumber Street Stocks. Martin has no finish worse than sixth in the last five events with two wins along the way. That performance has netted him a 30-point lead at the one-third mark of the season.

Two former Street Stock champions and three standout sophomores are best positioned to challenge Martin’s reign. Fifteen-year-old St. Johnsbury driver Kasey Beattie runs second in the standings, with 2014 champion Tommy “Thunder” Smith in third. Two-time champion Jamie Davis is fourth after a win last week, with Berlin’s Kasey Collins and Derby’s Tim Hunt not far behind.

The Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors are also on the card and are certain to entertain regardless of the results. Berlin’s Eric Chase has won the last two features after Brookfield’s Nate Brien took the first two. Several others have attempted to give them a run, including Northfield’s James Dopp, East Corinth’s Brian Putney, Graniteville’s Fred Fleury and Williamstown’s Sean McCarthy.

Post time for the Aubuchon Hardware Holiday Spectacular is 7 p.m. A full slate of action is on the schedule for all four divisions, with a fireworks extravaganza by Northstar Fireworks set to cap the night. The pits will open at 3:30 p.m. and the grandstands will open at 5:15 p.m.

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