–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
BARRE — Eleven points.
That is the largest margin the point leader in all three of Thunder Road’s weekly divisions enjoys after the Mid-Season championships one week ago.
Bobby Therrien leads Trampas Demers by 11 points in the Late Model division while Brendan Moodie holds a nine point lead over Dwayne Lanphear in the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers. Lanphear’s son, Brandon, leads the way by a mere five points over mid-season victor Cooper Bouchard in the Allen Lumber Street Stocks.
Therrien saw his 29-point advantage get trimmed down to 11 points after he struck the wall early in the double-point counting 75-lap event one week ago.
“(Last week) was just a bump in the road,” Therrien said. “We’ll come back (Thursday) stronger than ever and go after another (win).”
Demers backed up his Vermont Governor’s Cup win with two consecutive podium finishes.
“We’ve been thinking we had the capabilities of running up front and going for the championship,” Demers said. “Right now, I think the pressure is off a little bit. I don’t mind chasing with (the points) being that close.”
Jason Corliss, the lone multi-race winner in 2017, sits third in the standings, fifty points back of Therrien. Defending champion Scott Dragon used a third place finish one week ago to move up to fourth in the standings, 13 points shy of Corliss. Eric Chase continues his impressive 2017 season as he sits fifth in the Late Model standings.
For Therrien, the difference has been his success in the semi-feature, which pays additional points for drivers who qualify. Therrien has made seven appearances in the Maplewood’s semi-feature in 2017, something Demers noted as the difference.
“We have to do better in qualifying and the semi-(feature),” Demers said. “That’s where Bobby (Therrien) is getting us right now. (But) in the (feature), we have a really good handling car. I’ll put it up against anybody’s here, right now.”
The two top teams are led by skilled crews with years of experience — Therrien is led by multi-time championship crew chief Pete Duto and three-time championship driver Derrick O’Donnell while Demers is led by eight-time ACT Late Model Tour championship crew chief Rick Paya.
“(Thursday) was a testament to the great crew I have behind me,” Therrien said. “We came in five or six times to make adjustments after catching the frontstretch wall and the guys just never gave up. It just gives me more drive to go out onto the track and keep picking off cars.”
Just five races remain in the Late Model weekly championship season.
With six championship races remaining in the Flying Tigers, the 2015 champion Moodie watched his 27-point lead slip down to just nine points over the 1991 champion Lanphear. The 2014 champion, Jason Woodard, sits 19 points back of Moodie after his podium finish in the mid-season championship event.
Moodie’s nine top-five place finishes and ten top-ten place finish leads the way, but Lanphear has trimmed his deficit with four straight top-four place finishes and a big 14-point swing in last week’s heat racing action.
Woodard committed a rare feat in June when he won the two Flying Tiger feature events on the same night.
The Street Stock point gap between the top-two drivers remained the same, but the drivers in those spots changed out.
Jamie Davis led Alan Maynard by five points entering, but Brandon Lanphear exited with a five point advantage over Bouchard. Maynard sits just three points back of Bouchard, while Davis sits 23 points shy of Lanphear. Reilly Lanphear sits in fifth, 11 points back of Davis.
Seven point counting events remain for the Street Stocks, which includes their annual 50-lap event on Sunday during the M&M Beverage Enduro 200.
The second half of the Thunder Road season will begin on Thursday, August 3 with Calkins Portable Toilets/WDEV Radio night. Post time is set for 7:00pm.
1 – Bobby Therrien (5) leads Trampas Demers (85) by just 11 points with five events remaining in the 2017 Thunder Road Late Model championship season. (Alan Ward photo)
2 – Brendan Moodie (94), Dwanye Lanphear (11), and Jason Woodard (68) are separated by just 19 points in the Thunder Road Flying Tiger championship standings. (Alan Ward photo)