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Corliss Back on Point of Challenge Cup Chase

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Barre, VT’s Jason Corliss (#66VT) has returned to the top of the Challenge Cup points while Montpelier, VT’s Kyle Pembroke (#27VT) is now knocking on the door of the top-10. (Alan Ward photo)

Corliss Back on Point of Challenge Cup Chase

Trio of White Mountain Racers Hot on His Heels

By Souza Media/Kyle Souza

Waterbury, VT — Barre, VT’s Jason Corliss has retaken the lead in the New England Late Model Challenge Cup (NELMCC) standings for the second time this year. A pair of strong runs for the #66VT Burnett Scrap Metals team ended the three-week reign of Candia, NH’s Jimmy Renfrew Jr. as the weekly Late Model champion seasons near the finish.

Still, much is left to be decided in the inaugural Challenge Cup. A trio of White Mountain Motorsports Park regulars, including Renfrew, are hot on Corliss’s tail as they chase the $5,000 top prize. Many others are duking it out to get in on the $17,000-plus point fund plus end-of-year raffle prizes from Port City Racecars, ARBodies, and Five Star Race Car Bodies.

Corliss, the two-time defending Late Model champion at Thunder Road, is having another remarkable season. He bounced back from a last-place finish at the double-point Midseason Championships by scoring a record-tying fourth weekly feature win on the season. Corliss followed that up by coming from deep in the field to finish sixth at Sunday’s make-up feature.

The veteran now has 379 points in 10 starts. Having reached the “Pick 10” threshold, Corliss can start dropping his lowest scores. Although 9 of his 10 starts to date netted at least 32 Challenge Cup points, Corliss earned the 2-point minimum at the Midseason Championships, meaning that race will likely be replaced this weekend.

Despite his lead in the Challenge Cup, Corliss is not the point leader at Thunder Road. That honor goes to Graniteville, VT’s Christopher Pelkey, who sits fifth in the NELMCC standings with 301 points. Pelkey is enjoying a career year with two victories and eight top-10 finishes. One of those victories came at the double-point event where Corliss crashed early. That is the difference for the Thunder Road standings as Pelkey sits 10 points ahead of Corliss in that department.

Pelkey also can still make in-roads with the Challenge Cup. He has a 4-point and a 12-point outing weighing down his total. With four point-counting features left at Thunder Road, there are ample chances to improve on those scores. Nine total tracks are part of the Challenge Cup, meaning other opportunities are available should Pelkey take them.

In between Corliss and Pelkey on the Challenge Cup leaderboard are a trio of White Mountain Late Model starts. Renfrew, the weekly White Mountain point leader, is 8 points behind Corliss with a total of 371. The 18-year-old struggled to find the handle last Saturday but managed a seventh-place finish. The 31 points he earned replaced an 11-point score from Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park back in June. Renfrew’s 10 counting NELMCC scores are now all at least 25 points, meaning he has his work cut out to raise the overall mark.

Groveton, NH’s Quinny Welch, the number-two point driver at White Mountain, is third in the Challenge Cup with 345 points. He came from 17th to finish 6th last time out to earn 37 points, replacing an 8-points score from late May. Welch has one 10-point score he can easily replace; all his other events are at least 30. He must go hard to try and catch Renfrew for the track championship, and that could benefit Welch’s Challenge Cup chances.

Groveton, NH’s Quinny Welch (#78NH) is up to third in the Challenge Cup as part of a trio of White Mountain drivers trying to chase down Corliss. (John Raper photo)

Fourth overall is Gilman, VT’s Jeff Marshall, who’s third in White Mountain points. Marshall has grabbed two wins in the last month and almost went back-to-back on August 14 before settling for the fourth spot. He currently has 312 Challenge Cup points — but with one 2-point score and two others in the low 20s. Based on how he’s been running of late and the room for improvement, Marshall should not be counted out in the regional championship chase.

Seekonk Speedway regular Gerry DeGasparre Jr. of East Providence, RI is back to sixth in the Challenge Cup. The multi-time Seekonk champion had a rough go of it the last two weeks, finishing back in the pack. Field sizes at Seekonk have also been in a midseason lull, limited his points potential. DeGasparre’s best bets to get back in the hunt are to win races and hope the Late Model car counts get a late-season surge.

Although Raymond, NH’s Alby Ovitt has apparently decided to call it a season, he’s still seventh in Challenge Cup points thanks to some great runs. Thunder Road regular Tyler Cahoon of Danville, VT sits eighth overall, with four early-season outings at White Mountain counting in his point total. Despite some tough breaks of late, Graniteville, VT’s Stephen Donahue remains ninth. Donahue has four scores of 12 points or lower he can replace, so a hot streak to end the year would loom large.

The battle for 10th, which is the final spot that pays a point-fund check, is razor-close. Wolcott, VT’s Marcel J. Gravel is riding a stretch of four straight outings with at least 23 points — three at his home track of Thunder Road and one at White Mountain. That has him up to 10th overall, one point ahead of a tie between White Mountain regular Kasey Beattie of St. Johnsbury, VT and Thunder Road rival Kyle Pembroke of Montpelier, VT.

St. Johnsbury, VT’s Stacy Cahoon (White Mountain) and Wolcott, VT’s Brendan Moodie (Thunder Road) are also within 10 points of a season-ending check. Twenty drivers are now eligible for the season-ending raffle of a new Port City Racecars American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model chassis with several more set to join them by month’s end.

This weekend’s slate of Challenge Cup-eligible races begins Friday, August 20. Vermont’s Thunder Road will run a 50-lap Late Model feature on Vermont Tire & Service Night after the event was postponed on Thursday due to rain. The Late Model Sportsmen at New Hampshire’s Lee USA Speedway and Claremont Speedway Motorsports Park have the week off before returning next Friday.

On Saturday, August 21, Late Model feature events are scheduled for New Hampshire’s White Mountain Motorsports Park, Massachusetts’ Seekonk Speedway, and Connecticut’s New London-Waterford Speedbowl. The Seekonk event is the finale in their Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Series, meaning a bigger than normal field is expected. New Hampshire’s Hudson Speedway hosts a 40-lap Late Model Challenge Cup event on Sunday, August 22.

Fans and drivers can follow along with the New England Late Model Challenge Cup all season at www.acttour.com/nelmcc. There, they will find the latest point standings, the full point fund payout, the Challenge Cup point system, and much more.

For more information, contact the ACT offices at (802) 244-6963, media@acttour.com, or visit www.acttour.com. You can also get updates on Facebook and Twitter at @ACTTour.

Photo Credit:

By Souza Media/Kyle Souza

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