Top Competition Ready To Take On Ryan Preece At Thunder Road Governor’s Cup Thursday

(Press release from Thunder Road International Speedbowl)

Ryan Preece (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Locals and Invaders Awaiting Chance to Race Against NASCAR Star

The 42nd Essex Equipment Vermont Governor’s Cup hits the high banks of Barre’s Thunder Road this Thursday, July 15 at 6:30pm. NASCAR Cup Series star Ryan Preece is taking on both the local Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model stars and several high-profile invaders that are relishing the chance to compete against one of the country’s brightest motorsports talents.

Preece, who has wins on both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and  Camping World Truck Series, is the latest high-caliber NASCAR name to come to Thunder Road. He joins a list that includes NASCAR Cup champions Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart plus Clint Bowyer, Christopher Bell, Ken Schrader, Kenny Wallace, and David Ragan over the past 20 years.

However, the appearance by Preece has a slightly more personal feel. As a native of Berlin, CT and a championship-winning Modified racer, his name was known and respected by many in the region before he ever turned a lap with one of NASCAR’s top three series. That makes Thursday a little more special as drivers get to compete against a New England “native son” who also happens to be a nationally known star.

“It’ll be a good opportunity to run against him,” East Bridgewater, MA’s Ryan Kuhn said. “He’s one of the few who’s really earned his way into NASCAR from hard work. A lot of people look up to that, and we try to get as many opportunities to race against people like that as we can.”

Kuhn, a former American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Rookie of the Year and last year’s Vermont Milk Bowl polesitter, is one of the regional racers taking advantage of that opportunity. As a current Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) finalist, Kuhn knows a good run against a stout field including a NASCAR standout could open doors for his racing career. As such, the 20-year-old has been putting the work in to elevate his team for the Governor’s Cup and for the rest of the Northeast season.

“I’m feeling good (about Thursday),” Kuhn said. “We’re playing with some stuff, and I think our program is getting a lot better. We did some testing, and we’ve gotten it to the point where we can tweak on the car be really good, and hopefully not have to worry about making too many adjustments — just go in there right out of the box and be fast.”

Preece will also have to contend against a weekly Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Model field that rates as one of the most competitive in the country. In six point-counting features, 16 different drivers have at least one top-five finish. Only two racers — point leader Jason Corliss of Barre and number-three-point man Trampas Demers of Shelburne — have finished in the top-10 of every feature, which speaks to the field’s caliber. Those racers are just as excited to race against Preece, knowing they only get so many chances to be on the same track as a “big-time” racer.

The Vermont Governor’s Cup also comes during a crucial stretch for the track championship battle. With 150 laps this Thursday and the double-point Midseason Championships the following Thursday, a lot can change in just eight calendar days.

Although Corliss has a seemingly comfortable 38-point lead over Pelkey, that lead is anything but safe. Including qualifying, a Late Model driver can earn up to 245 total points over the next two events. That means Pelkey, Demers, Stephen Donahue, Tyler Cahoon, and the rest of the top-10 are still legitimate championship contenders.

A win on Thursday could well be the start of something even bigger. In the process, the Governor’s Cup winner will join a prestigious list of past champions that includes Dave Dion, Joey Kourafas, Robbie Crouch, Joey Polewarczyk Jr., and Nick Sweet. At least five former Governor’s Cup champions — Corliss, Demers, Scott Dragon, Brooks Clark, and Cody Blake — are expected to try and earn another crown this year.

The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers and RK Miles Street Stocks are offering some thrills of their own on the undercard. The Flying Tigers continue to be the most competitive support division in North America. The top 11 drivers are separated by 43 points with Middlesex’s Logan Powers at the top of the heap. Seven features have seen seven different winners and 15 different podium finishers, giving nearly everyone reason to believe this could be their year.

The Street Stocks are currently a two-man dance between 2014 champion Tommy “Thunder” Smith of Williamstown and sophomore Kaiden “Tropical Storm” Fisher of Shelburne. The two could not be farther apart in terms of age, size, and experience — but once they strap into their Mustangs, none of that has mattered. Still, fans shouldn’t count out racers such as Kyler Davis, Luke Peters, and Jamie Davis who have the speed and skill to make a run.

The Essex Equipment Vermont Governor’s Cup featuring NASCAR’s Ryan Preece is this Thursday, July 15 at Barre’s Thunder Road. The Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models go 150 laps in the 42nd edition of the historic event. They’re joined by the Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers and RK Miles Street Stocks. Qualifying begins at 6:30pm.

Admission to the Vermont Governor’s Cup is $20 for adults, $5 for kids ages 6-12, and $40 for a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids). Advance tickets are available at All Thunder Road events are also live-streamed on FloRacing for those with a monthly or yearly subscription.

For more information, contact the Thunder Road offices at (802) 244-6963, [email protected], or visit You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @ThunderRoadVT. For more information about FloRacing, visit


  1. If you have never been the Thunder Road , It’s a MUST SEE Racetrack, The layout is very challenging , Tight High Bank turns, Backstretch runs groove right on Wall and seemingly drops way down hill as you enter turns 3 & 4, Breathtaking when they race side by side entering turns 1 & 2 fighting for a lane on exit where track narrows where groove runs right against wall … They have Grandstands or Grass & also a High Hill going uphill into the Woods all cut grass for lawn Chairs or blankets for viewing pleasure.. The food and drink is Excellent & very reasonable compared to Connecticut Tracks.. The place is run like Drill Sargent Fast…. No goofing around or your put to the rear… It’s a slice of Real Grass Roots Racing,, The Locals all ROOT Hard for their Favorites…. Highly Recommend it… Ryan Kuhn is a RISING STAR that runs Strong whenever he Shows up with the “Family Run ” team . The Family is all formers Racers, Now with Everett’s Auto Parts on-board He should be a Force in the NORTH EAST for quite a Few years to come, Currently 2nd in Pro – Stock points at Seekonk in His first full-time Ride in the # 72 Everett’s Car. He will be Visiting Victory Lane there soon … Ryan already has a Late Model Championship at the Cement Palace. Almost Won a few weeks ago coming for 8th place starting spot , Drove up to the Front and had a big lead with 6 laps to go, Yellow waved and messed up His Chances of first Pro Win… But it will soon be Accomplished that I am sure of. Ton’s of talent, Humble attitude, smooth and clean driver is going places….

  2. getserious says

    Damn, Jake, you beat me to it! The Thunder Road program is run like all tracks should be run. No 10-minute yellows, no fiddling along wasting time sitting there waiting for the next race, no BS. Anyone who has only been to the likes of Monadnock, Stafford, Lee, Waterford, well, anywhere else around here, needs to see how a race night should be run. I wish the race directors at these other places would go to TR. Maybe they would learn something, but probably not. They all take 5 hours to run 2 hours of racing, wasting time so much that it is embarrassing. Imagine bringing a new potential fan to the races for their first time and have them sit there for 5 hours?! They never come back. But TR is truly like no other place in New England. A quality night.

  3. Getserious. I agree completely. There are” very few tracks around here that have a sense of urgency to move the program along. Thunderroad and Lebanon Valley, are good at getting the show done in a timely manner. Every year, including last year, I would take someone who has never been to a race to the track with me to try to introduce someone new to the sport. Every year the “Rookies” enthusiasm starts off the night pegged high. then as the night would go on it would get lower and lower. One night was so bad I ended up leaving before the main event was over. I honestly tend to agree with their assessment as i have pretty much stopped going to races in person and prefer to watch them online. I am not sure I am going to continue to subject my friends to a night at the track. One, a show is costing like 20-40 dollars per person and then throw in travel and food and drink you are talking around 100 bucks for the night. Two I tend to think the shows drag on too long and dont want to sit there all night myself anymore.

  4. I love it when the pace car picks up the field and runs around the track full bore for 1 lap and then the field gets the green the next time by.This track was on my bucket list and for a regular show I swear there were 8k people there.Great track and very well run.

  5. Stafford is a much larger track and they do cover it very professionally but point taken about Thunder Road. You might also want to mention the no nonsense race call. One guy, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, machine gun delivery, all racing all the time.

  6. Thursday night???? Where are all the folks that say weeknight racing doesn’t work???? Must be only Wednesday nights that are bad for racing.

    This has good buzz, wish I could make it.

    Shawn, are you going to this one?

  7. Darealgoodfella,
    Yes, I will be going to Thunder Road Thursday.

  8. What Preece is doing is FANtastic for short track racing.

  9. Dr Robert Neville says

    I’d like to see Governor Scott win his own cup. Only got a couple more chances before he becomes a VT senator.

  10. The Pace Car Driver is a BIG part of the SHOW… A Former Champion , He really FLY’S around the Track at a SPEED that surprised the Hell out of me on my first visit…..!!! I would not want to be paying the tire BILL on that pace Car …!!! Looks like He has it set up really well with little tire squeal in the turns… He probably could win a entry class FEATURE in that Pace Car.. Does any one know His Name ??? How many tracks have a GOVERNOR racing in the FIELD ????? Did I mention the FOOD is AWESOME ..!!! Priced right so Family’s can Eat Supper at the Track and not need a Home-loan >>> LOL

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