October 22nd, 2016

O’Donnell Begins Three-peat Quest with Memorial Day Classic Triumph

Derrick O'Donnell celebrates with son Landon after winning the Mekkelsen Memorial Day Classic 100 at Barre, VT's Thunder Road. Photo by Alan Ward

Derrick O’Donnell celebrates with son Landon after winning the Mekkelsen Memorial Day Classic 100 at Barre, VT’s Thunder Road. Photo by Alan Ward

Two-time defending Thunder Road “King of the Road” Derrick O’Donnell began his quest for a three-peat in dominating fashion with a win in the Mekkelsen Memorial Day Classic 100 on Sunday, May 24.

N. Haverhill, NH’s O’Donnell quickly got to the front from his third starting position, moving around polesitter Nick Sweet on the outside to take the lead on lap eight. The 2013 Memorial Day Classic winner drew out to a big lead, but ran into two-by-two lapped traffic at the halfway point of the caution-free race, allowing Milton, VT’s Scott Dragon to catch him.

Dragon managed to nose in front of O’Donnell for two circuits just past the halfway point. However, O’Donnell pulled away once the two got clear of traffic and took his second Memorial Day Classic win.

“We were saving for most of the race,” O’Donnell said. “We got a huge lead, and then we got caught up in that lapped traffic that was racing side by side forever, and it just destroyed our lead. It was around the same time that my car started fading a little bit. I had my hands full, that’s for sure.”

Dragon settled for second, with Sweet a distant third. Merchants Bank 150 winner Brad Babb was fourth and John Donahue completed the top-5. Shawn Fleury, Brooks Clark, Dave Pembroke, Kyle Pembroke, and Trampas Demers were sixth through 10th.

Berwick, ME’s Joey Doiron made history by becoming the first ever Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Model winner at Thunder Road in its 150-lap event. Doiron started on the pole before surrendering the lead to Turner, ME’s Glen Luce on lap 10. He retook the lead on the race’s third and final restart for Mike Rowe’s spin on lap 42, only to see Dover, NH’s Wayne Helliwell power around his outside three laps later.

Helliwell darted out to a big lead, but Doiron began reeling him in after the halfway point and reassumed the lead on lap 93. A surprising Jeremy Davis slid through to second and followed Doiron like a shadow for the final 50 laps, but Doiron held on for his fifth career PASS North victory.

Davis finished second, with defending PASS North Champion D.J. Shaw in third. Former American –Canadian Tour (ACT) Rookie of the Year Bobby Therrien was fourth, followed by multi-time ACT Champion Brian Hoar. Mike Rowe, Travis Benjamin, Dave Pembroke, Helliwell, and Ben Rowe completed the top-10.

Joe Steffen was the last man standing in a wild Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman 35-lap feature. The stage was set on lap 26 when Christopher Pelkey dove three-wide inside a battle for the lead between Brendan Moodie and Jason Woodard on the backstretch. With none of the drivers willing to lift, the trio came together on the frontstretch, sending all three hard into the wall entering turn one.

Eric Johnson and Caleb Nelson inherited the front row on the restart, but the two came together coming to the green flag, sending both into the wall and flipping Johnson’s machine on its roof. Doug Crownshield assumed the point and seemed on his way to his first Tiger win when the yellow flag flew for Mike Martin’s spin as the field entered turn one on the final lap.

Thinking the race to be over, Crowningshield slowed entering turn 3, and Steffen alertly darted through for the win. Rookie Stephen Donahue finished second with Jeffery Bousquet in third. Crownshield came home a disappointing fourth. Cameron Ouellette, Derek Barker, Mike Billado, Derrick Calkins, Martin, and Dylan Payea rounded out the top 10.

Bunker Hodgdon led wire-to-wire in a caution-free Allen Lumber Street Stock feature to pick up his fifth career win. The 2013 Street Stock Champion withstood heavy pressure throughout the event from event from runner-up Jamie Davis, third-place finisher Alan Maynard, and Marcel J. Gravel. Jaden Perry, Tyler Austin, Jamon Perry, Jeremy Colson, Garry Bashaw, and Kyle Streeter completed the top 10.

Thunder Road kicks off its Thursday night racing season on June 11 with Harvest Equipment Night, featuring the annual Kids’ Rides. All three divisions will be in action. The Kids’ Rides are from 4-4:40 p.m. with post time at 6:30 p.m.

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