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Cody Blake won the Memorial Day classic for the second time. (Thunder Road Speedbowl Photo)

Cody Blake Makes It Two Memorial Day Classics At Thunder Road

BARRE, VT — On a beautiful Sunday morning, Thunder Road officials announced the creation of the Squier Cup for the Late Model Triple Crown at the Nation’s Site of Excitement starting with the 61st Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic. Twenty-five Maplefield/Irving Late Models filed into the pit area, quite the full one as a matter of fact with the third annual addition of the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series.

Defending King of the Road track champion Stephen Donahue brought the Memorial Day Classic field to green alongside three-peat track champion Jason Corliss. With Corliss on the hunt for two in a row on the granite monument, the competition up front was fierce. While Donahue dominated the early going, Corliss used a mid-race caution to catapult into the lead and steadily grow the distance between himself and the field under a long green flag period.

Meanwhile, Donahue was facing heavy pressure from Cody Blake, Jimmy Herbert and Scott Dragon, the remainder of the top five in their own pack ten car lengths behind Corliss. Unfortunately for Corliss, a late race caution with ten laps remaining set up a final showdown, this time with Cody Blake. Blake used the bottom to his advantage in a side-by-side battle to steal the lead with three to go and never looked back. Blake won his second career Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic, celebrating with his father, ‘Burger’ Blake, and his five-week-old daughter, Piper, in a multi-generational victory lane. Corliss came home second followed by Jimmy Hebert in third.

Former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Jon McKennedy brought the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series Granite City 100 to green. Following several single-car spin cautions, McKennedy continued his dominance with an ever-growing black car in his mirror. Matt Hirschman mashed the peddle and overtook McKennedy on the outside groove to claim the lead on lap 31 and ran away with it until a lap 59 heartbreaker for Matt Swanson, laying down a thick smokescreen from under the hood.

Back under green, Ronnie Williams and Woody Pitkat roared back into the top five after jumping pit-side for fresh rubber. Williams continued his melee to the front while McKennedy pulled into the pits on lap 81 after suffering mechanical woes that took his No. 79 machine out of contention for the afternoon. The biggest drama hit on lap 89 as Williams and Hirschman began to get physical for the lead, ending with Hirschman around on the backstretch and Williams cited a penalty on lap 94. The finale set up one last go for the win with Steven Kopcik duking it out with Matt Kimball. But in the end, Kopcik stole the win followed by Woody Pitkat and Kimball across the line.

The green-to-checker 40-lap main event for the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers went off without a hitch. Leading from the pole, Matt Ballard kept his foot in the firewall with a rearview mirror full of Chris LaForest throughout the feature. Deeper in the pack, point leader Brandon Gray and defending track champion Kyle Streeter were mired in heavy side-by-side traffic. The just-under 10-minute feature event saw Matt Ballard take his first career Flying Tiger win on the holiday weekend, followed by Chris LaForest, matching his career-best finish from opening day in second and Kevin Streeter rounding out the podium.

The rk Miles Street Stocks were led to green by fan-favorite Juan ‘Paco’ Marshall, but quickly, Patrick Tibbetts took over at the head of the pack in their 25-lap feature event. A clean and green race was cut off by a series of late-race cautions that restacked the field and made for a rough go on Tibbetts part with a flat right front tire sending him pit side for repairs and leaving behind a dominant run in the lead. With a bump and occasional bang, Kasey Collins took over and never looked back to take the win, speechless in victory lane. Former champions Jamie Davis and Dean Switser Jr. rounded out the podium.

Under the control of Anderson Boyd and Jaiden Del Toro, the Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors came to life to close out the Sunday program. Veterans Nate Brien, the ‘Chicken Man’ Brodie Frazier and Tyler Wheatley made short work of the cars ahead of them, crisscrossing through the field to claim the top five spots within eight laps. While Tater drove away with it, Zach Garvey fought to hold his second-place run against the onslaught and did so valiantly. Brien took the Memorial Day win, followed by Zach Garvey with Brodie Frazier coming home third.