Thunder Road SpeedBowl
Thursday night’s Times Argus Mid-Season Championship event at Barre’s Thunder Road could go a long way in determining who will win the 2006 “King of the Road” titles in each of the stock car racing track’s four divisions. Or maybe not. The standings are remarkably close which means that, for the most part, each competitor has been keeping his closest challengers within sight. All races - heats, semi-feature and main event - will award double the normal amount of points, and all divisions will have a longer than normal feature race.

Chad Wheeler from Waterbury Ctr leads the Late Model standings over fellow veteran, Dennis Demers from Shelburne by seven points (616-609). Ironically, the frontrunners have a very similar statistical record thus far this season. Neither has won a race yet in 2006 although both have posted a runner-up finish as best on the year. Both have five top five finishes. Wheeler has a couple of more top ten finishes than Demers, but Demers has more starts in the bonus purse and point Semi-Feature. Each is sure to keep his eyes peeled on the other in Thursday’s bonus point event.

As close as the standings are among the top two, they don’t have a monopoly on tight battles. Only 115 points separates the top ten drivers, and a single point is the difference between fifth and sixth place! A missed set-up, poor performance or someone else’s mistake could weigh heavily on standings once the points are tallied after the Times Argus Mid-Season Championship.

Joe Becker from Jeffersonville, who’s in the midst of a career best performance on the year, rides third (578). Like Wheeler and Demers, Becker has yet to win. Shelburne’s Jamie Fisher vaulted two spots, from sixth to fourth last week following his victory in the Fisher/Federated Auto Parts 50. The 2003 Thunder Road Late Model Champion has 553 points. Rounding out the top five is John Donahue from Graniteville (536).

The NAPA Sportsmen division has 78 points separating the top 10 drivers. After leading the standings early in the year, sophomore racer, Matt White from Northfield has a tenuous lead over veteran Pete Ainsworth (509-500). Ainsworth, from Middlesex is the only driver in the top three to have carried the checkered flag this year. Last year’s Sportsman class Rookie of the Year, Nick Sweet of Barre is right on Ainsworth’s rear bumper, another nine points in arrears (491).

Rounding out the top five are defending “King of the Road” Shawn Fleury from Montpelier (489) and Northfield’s Chip Grenier (478). Fleury ran a conservative race last year and although he didn’t add significantly to his advantage, he didn’t lose ground in his quest for the 2005 crown.

The Allen Lumber Street Stocks also have a bottleneck at the head of the pack. A margin of 110 points separates the top ten drivers. Milton’s Eric Badore regained the spot atop the standings with his victory at last Thursday’s event. Sophomore runner, Steve Quenneville from Barre, who continues to hold on to second is ten back of the leader (603-593).

Veteran runner, Barre’s Lloyd Blakely, is the lone driver in the top three who hasn’t been in the Winner’s Circle in 2006. The third place driver (585 points) led the standings earlier in the year through consistency. His worst performance is a 15th, compared to Badore (25th) and Quenneville (29th).

Hyde Park’s Kyle Tatro (560) and Tim Potter from Plainfield (544) complete the top five.

The PowerShift Warrior point leader, Maynard Bartlett Jr from Wolcott, has had a break out season. Even though he’s 85 points ahead of his closest competitor and neighbor, Jamie Davis (657-572), the second generation racer can’t ride on his laurels with double points on the line.

Elmore’s David Whitcomb (565 points), Bunker Hodgdon from Hardwick (514) and Montpelier’s Jayme Lee complete the top five in the standings.

Thursday’s Times Argus Mid-Season Championship has a post time of 7:00 pm. Tickets are $9.00 for adults, $3.00 for kids (ages 6-12) and $18 for the “Family Fare” (any two adults and two kids, 6-12).

(For more complete standings click on the "Standings" tab in upper left of front page).