N. Haverhill, NH’s Derrick O’Donnell put an exclamation point on his bid for a third consecutive Thunder Road championship by making a late charge for his fourth win of the season Thursday, August 27 on Cody Chevrolet Cadillac Night.
O’Donnell broke out of traffic late in the 50-lap main event and sliced through the front of the pack, passing cars low and high before reaching leader Mike “Beetle” Bailey. The two-time defending champion then swung to the outside of Bailey and grabbed the top spot with just three laps remaining.
“The car was really tight in the beginning, but I knew it would get better as we burned off some fuel, and it did just that,” O’Donnell said. “It almost worked out perfectly. As soon as the car got better, traffic opened up, and we had some running room. I was a little surprised when we got to Beetle; I thought we’d be a lot closer on laps than we were.”
Essex Jct.’s Dave Whitcomb, who was gunning for the Triple Crown, started on the pole. South Barre’s Bailey drew alongside him for the race’s second and final restart on lap 7 and the two racers, who were both looking to break long winless streaks, dueled for nearly 30 laps before Bailey got the edge.
Meanwhile, O’Donnell had worked his way up from the 12th starting position to sixth, but found himself boxed behind two-by-two traffic that also included Trampas Demers and Cody Blake. Once the pack sorted itself out, O’Donnell made his move and was in the second position by lap 43. The two-time defending champion caught Bailey a few laps later and got past for his seventh career Thunder Road Late Model victory.
Bailey settled for second and Whitcomb took third. Demers, Blake, Jason Corliss, Scott Dragon, Nick Sweet, John Donahue, and Kyle Pembroke rounded out the top 10. Results are pending ongoing technical inspection.