Dragons clinches 2016 King of the Road crown by one point

–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
VMM Editor

BARRE – Nick Sweet did something no other driver has done before on Sunday afternoon at Thunder Road: win three straight Labor Day Classics.

The hometown driver took the lead on lap 84 of the 200-lap Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic and scored a dominating win.

The win for Sweet was his second of the season and his fourth overall in the famed event. However, Sweet’s win was not enough to land him his third Thunder Road championship.

“We came here to win this race,” Sweet said. “Circumstances during the year, and we honestly didn’t deserve to win this championship this year. We’ve had a pretty off year.

“(Winning the race three-straight times) just shows we have a good long run car. The longer races are up my alley anyways. It just fits into my racing.”

Sweet started in the 15th spot by virtue of his Thunder Road handicapped position and had moved into the top-ten by lap 50. From there, Sweet moved more steadily, just needing 15 laps to go from tenth to seventh.

By lap 80, the No. 88 Saint J Auto Buick had moved into the third spot, a lap later around Boomer Morris for second, and a lap 83 caution flag was all he then needed to then take the lead. On the restart, Sweet used the outside lane to power past Tyler Cahoon and to the lead.

“Today was an outstanding day for my race team,” Sweet said. “We showed we have a fast race car and we’ll come out for the Milk Bowl and try to win that.

“(The car) was good. We got to the front early and we led a lot of laps. It was a lot of fun to drive.

“I kind of went into saving mode (at the end). I’ve lost too many of these races with a caution with ten (laps) to go and not be able to capitalize. It feels good to capitalize.”

Sweet then held on through four ensuing caution flags with Cahoon to his outside and kept the lead every time.

For Sweet, the win gave him his best shot at the overall season-long championship, but his chief rival, Scott Dragon, finished second to take the championship for himself. Sweet pointed at spots earlier in the year as the reason they missed out on his third King of the Road crown.

“I think Tom Curley put it best in the driver’s meeting,” Sweet said. “A championship run is like a painting. We had a couple of bad marks on that painting and never seemed to be able to overcome that.”

Dragon, of Milton, made a pass on Cahoon with just six laps remaining to finish second, which gave him a one-point advantage over Sweet for the season-long “King of the Road” championship.

Cahoon, of St. Johnsbury settled for third after he led much of the early portion of the race until Sweet’s pass on lap 84. Jason Corliss of Barre finished fourth, which was good enough to earn him the third spot in the championship battle, unofficially. Kyle Pembroke of Montpelier challenged Cahoon for the second spot multiple times during the later stages of the race, but settled for fifth.

Vermont Lieutenant Governor and three-time Thunder Road champion Phil Scott finished sixth with Brooks Clark seventh. Cody Blake rallied after an early race pit stop to finished eighth while Shawn Fleury raced inside the top-ten for the entire 20-lap distance to finish ninth. Eric Badore completed the top-ten finishers.

VtMotorMag.com will have more from the 38th Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic 200 soon.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic 200
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre
Sunday, September 4, 2016

(# — denotes rookie)

1. (15) Nick Sweet, Barre
2. (17) Scott Dragon, Milton
3. (5) Tyler Cahoon, St. Johnsbury
4. (14) Jason Corliss, Barre
5. (12) Kyle Pembroke, Montpelier
6. (19) Phil Scott, Middlesex
7. (23) Brooks Clark, Fayston
8. (11) Cody Blake, Barre
9. (6) Shawn Fleury, Middlesex
10. (9) Eric Badore, Milton
11. (13) Trampas Demers, South Burlington
12. (16) Brandon Atkins, AuSable Forks, N.Y.
13. (10) Jason Allen, Barre
14. (21) Dave Whitcomb, Essex Junction
15. (4) Boomer Morris, Barre
16. (20) Josh Masterson, Bristol
17. (3) # Christopher Pelkey, South Barre
18. (1) # Mike Foster, Williston
19. (8) Mike Bailey, South Barre
20. (24) Eric Chase, Milton
21. (7) Matt White, Northfield
22. (22) Chip Grenier, Graniteville
23. (25) Darrell Morin, Westford
24. (2) Scott Coburn, Barre
25. (18) # Marcel J. Gravel, Wolcott