BARRE, Vt. — Scott Dragon continued his long road back from a tough start to the season by winning the Country Camper Midseason Championships at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl on Friday.
The two-time King of the Road took the lead from rookie Matthew Smith with time winding down in the 75-lap Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model feature and then pulled away for the double-point victory.
Dragon started fifth in the main event, entering the night still mired 11th in the overall point standings thanks to a blown engine in late June. While the veteran stayed patient early, the front row of Smith and Jim Morris battled tooth-and-nail at the front. Morris led the first five laps off the outside pole before Smith clawed back on the inside. Following the first caution on lap eight for Matt White’s spin, Smith held onto the top spot as Dragon slid into the third position.
The top-three then pulled away as top point drivers Trampas Demers, Marcel J. Gravel, Bobby Therrien and Jason Corliss tried to fight their way out of the back. As Dragon swung to the outside of Morris on lap 37, Tyler Cahoon spun in turn two to bring out the second and final caution one lap shy of halfway.
It was Morris who put the bumper out front on this restart, leading the next two laps before Smith surged back ahead on the 40th circuit. One lap later, Dragon followed Smith through for the runner-up position. After stalking Smith for nearly 10 laps, Dragon finally made his move, heading for the high side on lap 49 and getting the lead for the first time three laps later. Although Smith hung tough, Dragon finally cleared him a few laps later and was long gone from there for his 12th career victory and second triumph in the Midseason Championships.
Gravel moved around Smith for the second spot with 15 laps to go in a slow but steady charge from ninth on the grid. Morris then passed Smith for third in the closing circuits to nab his best result of the year.
Smith settled for fourth followed by Demers, who entered the night as the point leader.
The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers had even more to race for with two features on the card. In the make-up of their rain-delayed Vermont Governor’s Cup feature, Derrick Calkins earned his first career Flying Tiger win at Thunder Road. Restarting the feature second with 10 laps already in the books, Calkins got around polesitter Kyle Streeter just a few laps into the running.
Streeter chased Calkins for the rest of the caution-free 30-lap run, putting the pressure on in earnest over the final 10 circuits. As the laps wound down, Jason Woodard and Cameron Ouellette caught the leaders to make it a four-car tango. Calkins, though, held them all off for the win.
Streeter took second followed by Woodard, Ouellette and Robert Gordon.
In the double-point nightcap, it was Woodard who took full advantage to get his first win of the season and the 11th of his career. The three-time and defending Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tiger champion started 12th in the 50-lap Midseason Championship feature and was already up to second by lap 19.
Woodard was putting the pressure on rookie Kasey Beattie when Adam Maynard’s engine blew at the halfway point, robbing him of the fourth spot and bringing out the race’s only caution for oil on the track. On the restart, Woodard left the 16-year-old Beattie in the dust, sailing to front cruising to the big victory.
Beattie held off a late charge from Calkins to finish second and continue his impressive recent stretch on the high banks. Jaden Perry, who entered the night as the point leader, bounced back from distributor problems in the make-up feature to take fourth. Cameron Ouellette nipped Logan Powers at the line for fifth.
Josh Lovely finally had some luck to go with his speed to take the win in the 35-lap Allen Lumber Street Stock feature. Lovely, who’d seen several good runs snatched away this year by mechanical problems, started on the pole and pulled out to a big lead early.
Tim Hunt, who’d encountered some tough luck of his own since an opening-night win, slowly chased down Lovely through the caution-free event and finally caught him with two laps to go. Going into turn one on the final lap, slower traffic made contact in front of the leaders, forcing both to thread the needle. Lovely used some veteran skill to weave his way through and cross the line first.
Hunt earned the second spot with Scott Weston completed the podium. Point leader Brandon Gray broke through traffic late to finish fourth and of rookie Luke Peters.
Haidyn Pearce went pole-to-pole for his second career Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warrior victory in their 25-lap feature. Pearce faced heavy pressure from Trevor Jaques early in the main event and then had to contend with multi-time Road Warrior winner Frank Putney in the late going. The third-generation racer was up to the task, surviving the pressure and multiple cautions for the victory.
Putney finished second while Nate Brien had his best run of the year in third.