BARRE – On an evening where records could be broken, the fans who packed the stands at Thunder Road were given a show to remember. The 43rd running o the Vermont Governor’ Cup wrapped up on Thursday night and here’s how the 150 lap race played out.
After driver intros with the sun setting over the Green Mountains, the 29 drivers strapped in for the action.
Derrick O’Donnell in the number 60 Chevy led the way to green and held it for the first few laps. Early on, it was battle at the front between O’Donnell and Cody Blake in the 99 car with O’Donnell eventually bottoming out and throwing sparks on the apron.
Towards the back were two big names in the show: Vermont Governor Phil Scott on the inside and NASCAR Cup Champion Brad Keselowski on his outside. But it was trouble early on for Keselowski as a turn one spin for his number 6 mustang brought out the first caution of the night. Keselowski had no damage and continued from the tail end of the field.
On the restart, O’Donnell had Blake covered off of turn two and held the lead.
Jason Corliss, on a mission to win his third Governor’s Cup in a row, moved into the top five on lap 32 right as a caution came out. Corliss started the race in 13th and worked through the field with precision.
On the restart, there was a battle was for seventh as Scott Coburn in the 4 car held off recent American Canadian tour winner Marcel Gravel. The two could not be separated from the drop of the green flag.
On lap 59 as the leader began lapping cars, Raphael Lessard cut a tire down, causing Tyler Cahoon in the 38 to spin. On the restart, Corliss made his move on O’Donnell to the outside and made it count. His white 66 was now in the lead at lap 65 and he held it going into a long green flag run that went into the night. However, O’Donnell made sure his 60 car never got out of the leader’s rearview mirror.
That was until lap 111, when a wreck in front of the leaders catches them out and brings out the red flag. While to the fans amazement, Corliss got trapped in the melee with no damage, O’Donnell’s car was badly banged up. He stayed on track with the damage on his front end but fell back on the restart, letting Corliss and Blake sprint away out front.
Sprint away they did, with the 66 and 99 never looking back. History was indeed made at Thunder Road. Corliss, already a three time defending track champion, is now a three time defending Governor’s Cup Champion. He may not be a Thunder Road regular anymore, but like he said before the race, it’s like riding a bike.
Here’s what he had to say after a truly incredible run. “I grew up here, it’s my home. I love this place to death, and it’s good race cars. It’s my job to not screw it up, I just need to hit my marks,” he said. “Even when I look comfortable, I’m working my tail off. [I’m] really proud of this race team, three [in a row] is pretty cool and next year let’s see if we can get another one.”
Keselowski and Governor Scott presented the cup to Corliss following the race. Rounding out the top three were Cody Blake in second and Brenden Moodie in third.