(From track press release)

BARRE — This Thursday, July 19, the Vermont Governor’s Cup will be awarded for the 39th time in its storied history. The 150-lap event presented by VP Racing Fuels is the biggest event of the summer for Thunder Road’s Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models and a sought-after prize for drivers throughout the state and region.

With thousands of laps each summer on the Barre high banks, the track’s weekly stars are ready to take on any and all invaders that may come knocking in their quest for the Cup. Defending Governor’s Cup Champion Trampas Demers tops the weekly standings entering the event, and a second straight victory could lead to his first title. Former winners Cody Blake of Barre and Scott Dragon of Milton are in the hunt as well, and a second trophy would be a perfect shot in the arm.

Barre’s Jason Corliss and Jim “Boomer” Morris along with Graniteville’s Stephen Donahue are others expected to try and keep the Governor’s Cup local. Top part-time racers such as Fayston’s Brooks Clark and Charlotte’s Josh Masterson are also making the event part of their schedule and could steal the victory.

But every year, a number of interlopers come knocking in their own bid to take the Cup home. This season, St-Denis, QC’s Patrick Laperle will lead the attack of the outsiders. The former Vermont Milk Bowl and Labor Day Classic Champion hopes to become the first Canadian to win the event since Jean-Paul Cabana in 1971. “Le Grand” Laperle recently snapped a long winless streak on U.S. soil and will look to turn around some recent struggles at the top of Quarry Hill.

First awarded in 1961, the Governor’s Cup is the oldest racing event in the state of Vermont and one of the most prestigious. Since its return to the Thunder Road schedule in 2006, it has been an event that every local racer circles on their schedule. Add in a hotly contested “King of the Road” battle, and this year’s event has all the makings of an instant classic.

Just 49 points separate the top-6 drivers entering the Governor’s Cup. The front four are names many expected to see. Demers leads Blake by just two points after last week’s event. Corliss and Dragon are third and fourth, sitting 29 and 30 points behind Demers, respectively.

The Late Models will be joined by a full card of championship action for the track’s Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers and Allen Lumber Street Stocks. In the Tigers, Craftsbury Common’s Joel Hodgdon has stolen the show in recent weeks. His come-from-behind win in last week’s Myers Container Service Triple Crown Series event shot him to the top of the standings.

Hodgdon now sits nine points ahead of Morrisville’s Dwayne Lanphear, who had been the leader since Opening Day. While Hodgdon and Lanphear currently have a big gap on the rest of the field, top runners such as rookie Brandon Lanphear, Hinesburg’s Trevor Lyman, Grand Isle’s Joe Steffen, and Barre’s Cameron Ouellette will try to close the gap.

Essex Jct.’s Matthew Smith is still the man to beat in the Street Stocks. He has topped the standings from the get-go and is currently 54 points ahead of Derby’s Tim Hunt, who is coming off a popular first career win last Thursday. Lyndonville’s Dean Switser Jr. sits third while sophomores Logan Powers of Middlesex and Stephen Martin of Craftsbury Common are locked in a tie for fourth.

Qualifying for the 39th Annual VP Racing Fuels Vermont Governor’s Cup takes the green at a special 6:30pm post time this Thursday, July 19. The pits will open at 2:30pm while the front gates open at 3:30pm. Admission is $20 for adults and free for kids ages 12 and under.

For more information, contact the Thunder Road offices at (802) 244-6963, [email protected], or visit www.thunderroadvt.com.

PHOTO: St-Denis, QC’s Patrick Laperle will lead the charge of invaders at the Vermont Governor’s Cup as he looks to bring the trophy home to Canada. (Alan Ward photo)