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Cody Blake victorious in Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model competition. (Alan Ward photos).

Cody Blake Goes Lights Out At Thunder Road

BARRE, VT — The month of June ended with the thunderous roar from high atop Quarry Hill in Barre, Vermont on Thursday. At the end, it was four triumphant returns to victory lane as Williamstown’s Nate ‘Tater’ Brien, Plainfield’s Patrick Tibbetts, Barre’s Jason Pelkey and Montpelier’s Cody Blake all found victory lane once again, but for the first time in 2022.

The rk Miles Street Stocks started off the night’s festivities after Patrick Tibbetts and Juan ‘Paco’ Marshall took dominant heat wins in the two qualifying rounds. Following Dean Switser’s caution for transmission fluid leaking from his colorful No. 16 machine, it was all Tibbetts, who held an eight-car-length advantage over Pittsfield’s ‘Paco’ Marshall.

In the final five circuits, Marshall came within a fender-length of Tibbett’s Dodge Neon, but the twin checkereds fell Tibbetts took his first Thunder Road win in several years, followed by Marshall and Milton’s Trevor Jaques took third.

The always exciting Burnett Scrap Metal Road Warriors made their return after several weeks off. Following the caution for newcomer Kevin Deal’s No. 21 roughly halfway through their main event. Coming from the 12th starting position, Brien stole the show after pile driving his way through the field in their 20-lap sprint. Tater was followed to victory lane by two former winners in 2022, the No. 19 of Moretown’s Neal Foster and Graniteville’s No. 99 of ‘Flyin’ Fred Fleury. Worcester’s Rodney Campbell and Graniteville’s Frank Putney took down qualifying heat wins.

The drama was high in the feature event. Going caution free for 27 laps, it all changed in a split-second. While Jacob Roy’s spin in Turn 2 thankfully slowed the field, third-place runner Kaiden Fisher blew an oil line on the backstretch, scattering cars as his S.D. Ireland No. 18VT caught fire when the oil made contact with his red-hot exhaust. On the ensuing restart, Barre’s Jason Pelkey and defending champion Michael Martin from Craftsbury Common took the point.

Just 10 laps later another unthinkable calamity struck when the frontstretch lights went dark, quickly bringing out the yellow with three to go. Once illumination was returned, the Tigers went straight to checkered flags with Pelkey claiming the win and Martin just edging Milton’s Robert Gordon for second. East Burke’s Colin Cornell, Shelburne’s Fisher and last week’s feature winner South Hero’s Rich Lowery took qualifying wins.

Last up, the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models took the main stage for their 50-lap feature on Scout Night. It all went sideways fast for Barre’s Scott Coburn on Lap 7 after striking the frontstretch wall and slowing into the tire barrier in Turn 1 to bring out the first caution. After twenty laps of side-by-side racing throughout the field, last week’s winner Cooper Bouchard went sideways the length of the frontstretch into the infield for the second caution of the event.

After dominating the event from the start, Montpelier’s Cody Blake had to deal with Wolcott’s Marcel Gravel and Graniteville’s Stephen Donahue breathing down his neck for the first time as the field tightened up for the restart. After the green flag waved, it was once again Blake going lights out on the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model field. Blake took down his first win of 2022 followed by podium frequenter Marcel Gravel and Stephen Donahue following his hard charge from 15th. On a rail, both Blake and Donahue also dominated their heat races with Milton’s Eric Chase taking his qualifying race. Gravel took the consolation race.

Next on the schedule, Thunder Road celebrates America’s birthday with the Preston’s KIA Independence Day Spectacular on July 3rd.