Pelkey, Powers a pair of first time Thunder Road winners
–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
BARRE – Marcel J. Gravel nearly pulled off the upset on Thursday night at Thunder Road.
The Wolcott 21-year-old found himself in the lead of the VP Racing Fuels Vermont Governor’s Cup 150 with 35 laps remaining on Thursday night at Thunder Road and potentionally en route to hist first career Late Model win.
A caution flag with just 19 laps remaining, however, put Thunder Road Late Model point leader Bobby Therrien – who had been slowly reeling Gravel in – to Gravel’s outside on a restart. Therrien would take the lead, while Gravel would fall victim to eventual race winner Trampas Demers for second.
Gravel, however, held on to the final spot on the podium for one of the biggest finishes of his Late Model racing career.
“It’s bittersweet,” Gravel said. “The year we’ve been having; we’re eighth in point, but we had a run in last week and a couple of races that felt like we could have won them.
“This one was no different. My dad (Marcel Gravel) made a great call and we had good balance all night. We pushed it and I wish I could have gotten the ‘W’ for him.”
For Gravel, though, it was not lost on him the teams that he finished behind.
“Third is pretty good,” Gravel said. “We’re nothing compared to these guys (Demers and Therrien). We’re just a little, little race team.
“It feels great, actually.”
Therrien had been slowly reeling Gravel in after Gravel too the lead on lap 115 and broke free, but was not entirely to Gravel when the caution flew on lap 131.
“It was like leading the Daytona 500 and getting the yellow (flag) instead of the white,” Gravel said of the late race caution. “This would be like winning that to us. It was very depressing, but I had a job to do.
“I was going to give (Therrien) everything I had, if not a little more. We know how fast he’s been and he came out on top then. And then Trampas (Demers) came up through and it was good to have a front row seat to that dance.”
Thunder Road officials made the Governor’s Cup 150 a six-tire race, which allowed race teams to use strategy to take two tires at any point during the event. While most teams elected to pit at some point for their tires, Gravel’s team stayed out the entire event.
“We came to (lap) 70 and we’re like ‘we should come’ and then we were like ‘no’,” Gravel explained. “And then we got to (lap) 93 and my dad was like ‘pit now or don’t pit.’ I said ‘alright, we’re not going to pit.’
“I knew then if we could get the lead, we had a pretty good car. You don’t go 150 laps on a set of tires without having a good car. There really wasn’t a ton of strategy. We just needed a good run. And tonight was a good night to do it.”
For the family-owned team led by his father, a third place finish in one of Thunder Road’s biggest Late Model races of the season was a crowning moment for the young team.
“It’s huge,” Gravel said. “It makes us feel great. You could have sworn we won the thing.
“It was an awesome night.”
* * *
A pair of rookie grabbed their first career wins at Thunder Road on Thursday night.
Pelkey, of Barre, took the lead on lap seven from Burt Spooner in the 40-lap Flying Tiger feature and never looked back in the caution-free event.
Kyle Streeter of Waitsfield took home a career-best second place finish with Mike Martin third. Dwayne Lanphear and point leader Brendan Moodie completed the top-five finishers with Jason Woodard, Mike Billado, Gregg Lyman, Jaden Perry, and Tyler Austin sixth through tenth, respectively.
Powers, of Middlesex, moved ahead of Scott Weston on the opening lap of the 25-lap Street Stock feature and held on through a pair of midrace caution flags to claim his first win.
Hinesburg’s Cooper Bouchard finished second with Matthew Smith third. Rookie Stephen Martin and Alan Maynard finished fourth and fifth with Dean Switser Jr., Jamie Davis, Reilly Lanphear, Peyton Lanphear, and Will Hennequin sixth through tenth, respectively.
Thunder Road continues their 2017 season on Thursday, July 20 with Fairpoint Communications Night and the first race for the new Road Warrior division. Post time is 7:00pm.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – VP Racing Fuels Night
Thunder Road Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Thursday, July 13, 2017
(# — denotes rookie)
Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers (40 laps)
1. # Jason Pelkey, Barre
2. Kyle Streeter, Waitsfield
3. Mike Martin, Craftsbury Common
4. Dwayne Lanphear, Morrisville
5. Brendan Moodie, Wolcott
6. Jason Woodard, Waterbury Center
7. Mike Billado, Essex
8. Gregg Lyman, Hinesburg
9. # Jaden Perry, Hardwick
10. # Tyler Austin, East Calais
Allen Lumber Street Stocks (25 laps)
1. # Logan Powers, Middlesex
2. Cooper Bouchard, Hinesburg
3. Matthew Smith, Essex Junction
4. # Stephen Martin, Craftsbury Common
5. Alan Maynard, Fairfax
6. Dean Switser Jr., Lyndonville
7. Jamie Davis, Wolcott
8. Reilly Lanphear, Duxbury
9. Peyton Lanphear, Duxbury
10. Will Hennequin, Hardwick
1 – Marcel J. Gravel (86) races with Cody Blake (99) for the Governor’s Cup 150 lead during Thursday night’s event. Gravel would hold onto the lead until a late race restart, but still ended up an impressive third place. (Alan Ward photo)
2 – Jason Pelkey earned his first career Thunder Road Flying Tiger win on Thursday night. (Alan Ward photo)
3 – Logan Powers earned his first career Street Stock win on Thursday night at Thunder Road. (Alan Ward photo)