Thunder Road SpeedBowl
Fleury and Johnson Power To Merchants Bank Wins at Thunder Road
BARRE, VT - Thunder Road's NAPA Sportsmen, Allen Lumber Street Stocks and Powershift Warriors had their season opening events in conjunction with the ACT Late Model Tour's Merchants Bank 150 on Sunday, May 15. Like the traveling teams, the locals were thankful to track management for waiting out the persistent rain. And for three drivers, the patience especially paid off.


Thirty-seven NAPA Sportsmen, including a sizeable rookie class and several new competitors attempted to qualify for the 26 starting positions. Montpelier, Vermont's Shawn Fleury started fourth on the grid and by the time he passed the start/finish line for the first time, he was in the lead. From that point on, Fleury attempted to put as much distance between him self and the balance of the field in case a caution flew. By the 23rd lap in the 35 lap main event he was lapping cars.
The caution flag never flew and Fleury scored his fourth career win. Chris Gendreau, from Waterbury Ctr, VT, who had started eighth, passed sophomore driver Jeff French for second with two laps remaining. French held on for third. Completing the top five were Mark Barnier from Essex Jct and Marcel Gravel of Wolcott.
In his rookie season, Eric Johnson from Randolph Ctr, VT was the winningest Allen Lumber Street Stock driver at Thunder Road last year and he served notice that he intends to have that distinction again this year. Johnson had to survive five caution periods and out distance 37 of his fellow competitors on his way to victory in the Merchants Bank event. The division's defending champion, Joe Small from Milton, VT crossed the line in second while Joel Hodgdon from Craftsbury, VT, the 2004 Rookie of the Year was third. Westford, Vermont's Geoff Forsey, a first year competitor in the Allen Lumber Street Stock division finished an impressive fourth and Eric Badore, another sophomore driver rounded out the top five.