Thunder Road SpeedBowl
PEMBROKE WINS THUNDER ROAD'S SANEL PARTS PLUS DASH
As strong as Dave Pembroke has been on the ACT Tour this season he's been fighting an ill handling race car in weekly events at Barre, Vermont's Thunder Road. That all changed Thursday night with his victory in the Sanel Parts Plus Trophy Dash over a hard charging Dennis Demers and Eric Williams.
"We've been working on the car, trying to get it going to," Pembroke said in the Winner's Circle. "We've still got some work to do, hopefully it'll come around some more on Sunday." Thunder Road has the second event in its holiday double-header weekend, the Coca-Cola Firecracker 50 on Sunday.



Pembroke, from Montpelier, VT, started fifth on the grid and tried to work his way forward but the blistering pace set by pole sitter Jerry Lesage and the lack of cautions until the 34th circuit of the 50 lap race hindered his advancement. Outside polesitter Jamie Fisher from Shelburne led the first circuit before Lesage took over on the second time around the high-banked quarter-mile oval. The Winooski, VT driver held on until former track Late Model champion Dave Whitcomb dove low in the fourth turn to take the lead on the23rd circuit. Once in the lead, the Essex Jct, VT veteran wasn't looking in his rearview mirror for challengers, it was full steam ahead as he stretch his advantage to several car lengths.
A spin by Rusty Berger and David Chagnon in the track's third turn brought the caution out for the first time. On the lap 34 restart Whitcomb and Pembroke lined up side-by-side and when the green flew, Pembroke out powered Whitcomb for the lead. He was not seriously challenged until the final circuits when eventual runner-up Shelburne, Vermont's Demers closed in on his rear bumper.
Pembroke and Demers put on a spirited battle over the final 14 laps but Demers was not able to make his car stick in the outside lane and Pembroke never opened up the inside. Eric Williams, of Hyde Park, climbed through the field to finish third after starting seventh. Completing the top five were Chad Wheeler from Waterbury Center, VT in fourth and defending Thunder Road Late Model Champion, Cris Michaud from Williamstown.
The Tiger Sportsman division's 35-lap feature went to Wolcott, Vermont's Marcel Gravel, the sixth of his career and first win in two years. Gravel, who had started 13th in the 26-car field, took the lead on the 31st circuit from Brian Delphia of Waterbury, VT. Delphia, who had taken the lead from Richmond, VT driver, Ron Morrill on lap 10, was the third competitor to occupy the top spot. Dan Reed from Essex Jct, VT led the first two laps.
A late charge by last week's winner, Montpelier, Vermont's Shawn Fleury, put him in second. Delphia held on for third. Rounding out the top five were Vermont racers, Chris Gendreau from Waterbury Ctr and Ray Stearns from East Corinth.
"Boy we've been horrible," Gravel grinned in victory lane describing his 2004 race season, "Our problem was that we didn't keep up with the times, the technology. It's the same car but my dad and I've found some stuff, little things that've made a big difference." When Gravel was reminded that as the winner, he'd have to start at the rear of the next feature he replied, "I'd rather start at the back with a win than on the pole without one!"
The caution filled Allen Lumber Street Stock feature went to Joe Fecteau. The veteran campaigner form Morrisville, VT bested rookie driver Geoff Forsey from Westford, VT and Jericho, Vermont's sophomore driver, Shawn Powell . No one was injured in any of the caution periods, which included a race stoppage for a red flag brought out for a rollover by Tim Potter.
The PowerShift Warrior winner was Chris Hodgdon, his second of the season.