Thunder Road SpeedBowl
Late Model stock car driver, Joey Laquerre of E. Montpelier gave himself an early birthday present Thursday by winning the Charter Communication/CMT 50 at Barre’s Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl. Laquerre, who has the distinction of winning a feature race at the high banked quarter-mile oval in each of five decades, will turn 63 in four days. He dominated the race from his pole starting position. . (PHOTO: Joey Laquerre takes a lap of honor following his victory in the Charter Communications/CMT 50)

Middlesex resident, Phil Scott, who started 11th, was second, while Joe Becker from Jeffersonville, was a close third. Completing the top five were Hyde Park’s Eric Williams and So Barre’s Mike Bailey.

From the outset, Laquerre set a blistering pace and left the battle for position to the rest of the field. David Chagnon of Colchester, clearly one of the most improved Late Model drivers in competition this year, held on for the runner-up spot early but was bested by Pete Fecteau from Morrisville. Fecteau, a former track champion set off after Laquerre. Rookie contender, Bailey, had other plans for Fecteau and passed the veteran using the outside groove to move in to second. Fecteau’s Pontiac eventually faded toward the rear of the pack.

A pair of cautions, just after the half-way mark, tightened up the field and gave freshman runner Bailey a shot at veteran Laquerre. Bailey tried valiantly but was not able to maintain momentum in the high groove after his tires had cooled down. Becker, who snuck underneath the first year racer for second place was followed by Scott. Scott, who is also a former Thunder Road Late Model champion, switched lanes and claimed the runner-up spot with a pass in the high groove.

With five laps remaining, Williams, who had started eighth, made his move and powered past Bailey for fourth. When the checkers flew, Williams was closing on the lead pack.

Completing the top ten were John Donahue in sixth, Jamie Fisher, Cris Michaud, Chad Wheeler and Dennis Demers. Unofficially, Demers maintains his point lead, although his advantage has been narrowed by Wheeler to just five. Becker is third, two behind Wheeler.

The NAPA Tiger Sportsmen had a busy night with a pair of feature races on tap. They opened Thursday’s race program with the rained out Sanel Parts Plus Trophy Dash which was won by defending division champion, Shawn Fleury of Montpelier. Barre’s Josh Lovely was second and sophomore driver, Matt White from Northfield was third. Completing the top five were rookie racer Chelsea’s Alex Perkins and Nick Sweet, the 2005 Rookie of the Year from Barre.

The Charter Communications/CMT 35 lap main event went to Chip Grenier of Northfield with Monday’s winner, Pete Ainsworth of Middlesex in second. Lovely posted his second top three effort of the night. Brian Delphia from Waterbury and White rounded out the top five. (PHOTO: After having a strong car and leading at earlier events this year, Grenier finally got the monkey off his back and won at Thunder Road )

In the Allen Lumber Street Stocks, rookie driver, Josh Demers of Montpelier rounded the last turn of the final lap in third place. In the blink of an eye, the first two cars bumped and Demers dove to the infield to avoid the careening cars. [image3_right]His instinctive move earned him a career first checkered flag. Kyle Tatro from Hyde Park and Morrisville’s Bill Hennequin righted their cars to finish second and third, respectively. Geoff Forsey from Westford and Mike Martin of Craftsbury Common, a freshman racer rounded out the top five.

The Junk Yard Warrior class also had a pair of feature races. Kyle Hess from Morrisville posted his first career win in the rescheduled Sanel Parts Plus Dash while veteran racer, David Whitcomb of Elmore claimed victory in the Charter Communication/CMT event.

Thunder Road is back in action next Thursday with the 20th annual New England Dodge Dealers VT Governor’s Cup. The 100 lap main event has a special entrant in Nextel Cup star, Kenny Schrader of Fenton, MO. The veteran racer will be making his second appearance at Thunder Road. After running to a ninth place finish in last year’s 50 lapper Schrader vowed to return if he could have more laps.

Joe Becker, the third place finisher in Thursday’s Charter/CMT 50 commented about racing with such a storied competitor, “Last year I got behind Schrader and gave him a shot (in the bumper). I don’t owe him anything but he sure owes me!”

Runner-up Scott will be providing Schrader with an ACT Late Model for the Governor’s Cup, “This car ran so well tonight, Schrader might not get to run it,” he said with a chuckle of the machine he was helping to prepare to the guest racer. The New England Dodge Dealers VT Governor’s Cup has a post time of 6:00 pm on Thursday, July 13. Race fans can stop by their friendly local New England Dodge Dealer and pick up a Super Discount Coupon (while supplies last) for a savings off the purchase of an adult general admission ticket.