McCarthy Tops Thunder Road’s Road Warrior Challenge

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Sean McCarthy emerges from his steed after winning the Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warrior Challenge on NorthCountry Federal Credit Union Night. (Alan Ward photo)
Sean McCarthy emerges from his steed after winning the Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warrior Challenge on NorthCountry Federal Credit Union Night. (Alan Ward photo)

BARRE, Vt. – Sean McCarthy never gave up and never surrendered on his way to victory in the Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warrior Challenge on Thursday during NorthCountry Federal Credit Union Night at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl.

McCarthy got the lead for good when Dan Garrett tangled with a slower car on lap 37 of the 50-lap event and checked out from there for his third Road Warrior victory at Thunder Road.

McCarthy started seventh in the entry-level division’s annual special and quickly cut through the field. As he was running second to Jamie York on lap 18, York got into a lapped car and cut his left-front tire, forcing him to the pits and giving McCarthy the lead for the first time.

However, the battle was far from over for McCarthy. After a lap-21 caution for a multi-car turn one tangle, third-place runner Steve Reno dove three-wide coming to the restart. Reno and McCarthy dueled for the next four laps with Reno having a bumper out front when the yellow flew on lap 25 for the halfway break.

When the field returned to the track, McCarthy got his revenge and caught Reno napping on the restart to grab the lead back. Garrett followed McCarthy around Reno for second, and as the field came to 15 laps to go, Garrett went to McCarthy’s outside, snatching the lead away a circuit later.

Just as Garrett was clearing McCarthy, though, the duo approached a slower car exiting turn four. Garrett when to drive underneath just as the lapped car also went low to let the leaders by, and the resulting contact sent Garrett spinning to the infield. The caution came back out and McCarthy once again inherited the lead from another’s misfortune.

One more caution flew with nine to go after Clay Badger, Brian Putney, and York crashed hard on the backstretch with Garrett also getting a piece. On the final restart, a five-car battle broke out for the second spot, which was exactly what McCarthy wanted to see in his rear-view mirror as he cruised to the victory.

Reno edged Josh Vilbrin for the second spot with Frank Putney, Justin Prescott, and a revived Garrett in hot pursuit. Nate Brien, Tyler Whittemore, Paige Whittemore and Kendall Zeno completed the top-10.

Stephen Donahue survived a torrid late charge from Bobby Therrien to pick up his second Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model victory. The third-generation racer had grabbed the lead from Northfield’s Matt White at the drop of the green for the 50-lap feature.

After the lone caution on lap four when point leader Marcel J. Gravel ground to a halt with a broken right-front suspension, Donahue, Christopher Pelkey and Kyle Pembroke drove away from the field with several car lengths between them. As the laps wound down, though, an invisible rubber band drew the top-three back together just as Therrien entered the mix from the 11th starting spot.

With three laps to go, Therrien put it on the high line, sweeping past Pembroke and Pelkey on consecutive circuits. He then gave a look outside Donahue coming down the back chute for the final time, but Donahue was able keep Therrien at bay for his first win of the season.

Pelkey finished third with Pembroke fourth. Jason Corliss, Trampas Demers, Jim Morris, White, Eric Chase, and Scott Dragon rounded out the top-10.

Bryan P. Wall also rode the outside groove to his second win of the season in the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers. The 17-year-old rookie started ninth in the 40-lap feature and spent the first half of the race boxed in traffic.

Once the outside opened up, though, Wall made his move. Taking the long way around the high banks, the youngster flew from fourth to first in as many laps, grabbing the top spot from polesitter Eric Messier with 14 laps to go. Wall then walked away from Mike Billado down the stretch for the win.

Messier took third for his career-best Thunder Road finish. Robert Gordon, Adam Maynard, Colin Cornell, Brandon Lanphear, Logan Powers, Bunker Hodgdon, and Cameron Ouellette finished fourth through 10th.

J.T. Blanchard became the fifth first-time Allen Lumber Street Stock winner of the year he captured their 25-lap feature. Blanchard started alongside polesitter Justin Blakely and went back and forth over the opening circuits.

As they came to complete lap six, Blakely got loose and slid through the turn one infield. When Blakely came back onto the track, he nailed rookie Kyler Davis, sending the rookie on a wild flip-and-a-half through turn two. Davis was not injured in the incident.

When the race finally resumed, Blanchard easily got away with the lead as sophomore Cooper French moved into the second spot. French gave Blanchard all he had over the rest of the event, but Blanchard rose to the occasion every time to get his first victory.