Thunder Road SpeedBowl
John Donahue of Graniteville became the twelfth different Late Model winner in as many events at Barre's Thunder Road Thursday night. The veteran racer held off the race-long challenges of eventual runner-up Chad Wheeler of Waterbury Center and Montpelier's David Pembroke to post his second career victory. Joey Laquerre from East Montpelier was fourth and Middlesex driver, Phil Scott completed the top five finishers.

Rookie contender, Marcel Gravel from Wolcott started on the pole of the Calkins/Windshield World Trophy Dash and held the lead for the first six circuits of the 50-lap race. Donahue, a two-time NAPA Sportsman Champion at the high-banked quarter-mile oval, used the high groove to pass Gravel. Wheeler, the Late Model point leader entering the race, followed Donahue up the outside and set off to close the gap.

A caution on the 30th circuit closed the distance between the front runners and set up a duel that had the huge crowd on their feet. Donahue had the inside line with Wheeler on the outside. Pembroke lined up behind Donahue with Laquerre along side. The lead pair swapped the top spot back and forth as they circumnavigated the track. Pembroke and Laquerre poked the noses of their cars in to the battle with Pembroke crossing the line as the second place car several times.

The yellow flag flew for the second and final time with two laps remaining which set up a drag race to the finish. The top four crossed the line under a virtual blanket to the roar of the fans' approval.

"Even though Chad (Wheeler) and I bumped a couple of times on the backstretch, we gave each other plenty of room (to race). My father (spotter Paul, a former racer) told me to do what the car would give me," the winner stated in Victory Lane.

Wheeler, who still looks to carry the checkered flag in 2006, remarked, "My car was great tonight but I couldn't quite get John (Donahue). It sure was great racing!"
Defending Late Model Champion, Cris Michaud from Williamstown was sixth, Trampas Demers (S Burlington), Dennis Demers, Jamie Fisher (both from Shelburne) and Jeffersonville's Joe Becker completed the top ten.

Montpelier's Shawn Fleury began defense of his NAPA Sportsman title in earnest with a third win on the year. The defending title holder, who started 18th in the 26 car field, scored a convincing win over Ray Stearns from East Corinth and Northfield's Chip Grenier. Matt White, also from Northfield and North Middlesex driver, Chris Gendreau rounded out the top five in the Sportsman division's 35-lap feature.

Fleury used every lane at the Ľ mile oval to get to the front of the field. A yellow on lap 13 moved him within striking distance of the leaders. The 32 year-old was able to take the lead from Stearns by using the outside groove a few laps later. After taking over the top spot he never looked back. Stearns and White would have another restart to try to reel in Fleury but were unsuccessful.

“My car was just a pleasure to drive tonight, it was awesome” Fleury exclaimed in the Winners Circle. “I was able to move through traffic by going on the inside and outside. Ray (Stearns) gave me all I wanted at the end but I was able to hold him off,” he finished with a grin.

Fleury’s victory moves him atop the point standings over White (690-684). An 11th place finish for Pete Ainsworth of Middlesex, the point leader entering the event, drops him to third with 676 points.

Duxbury’s Brian Delphia was sixth, Tom Therrien of Hinesburg, Brendan Moodie from North Wolcott, hometown driver Josh Lovely of Barre and winner from a week ago Jeff French of Northfield completed the top ten.

Greg Adams from Hardwick scored a career first win in the Allen Lumber Street Stock division. Adams' margin of victory was some ten car lengths over sophomore driver, Ron Gabaree from Barre and newcomer, Travis Ingerson from Lisbon, NH. Adams displayed his excitement with a “burn out” on the front straight away while clutching the checkered flag on a victory lap. Plainfield’s Tim Potter spun short of the start/finish line on the final lap and never lost a spot as his spinning car crossed the line backwards in the fourth position. Gary Mullen of Tunbridge completed the top five finishers.

“This is just unbelievable. It’s everything I ever imagined,” an excited Adams stated in the Winners Circle of his first career victory. “My car wasn’t great in practice or the heat race but my crew and fellow racer Kyle Tatro helped me get my car going.”

Tatro of Hyde Park takes over the point lead following his sixth place finish, Lloyd Blakely of Barre, rookie contender Mike Martin of Craftsbury Center, Barre’s Steve Quenneville and point leader entering the night, Eric Badore of Georgia round out the top ten finishers. Badore trails 17 year-old, Tatro by only three points (813-810).

Hometown racer, Scott Weston from Barre crossed the line first in the PowerShift Warrior class only to have his first career win erased in the post-race technical inspection for illegal wheel camber. Jamie Davis from Wolcott, who was the second car to cross the line in the entry-level division's main event, inherits the victory, his first. Second goes to Chris Wade from Northfield and Buster Porter from Worcester rounds out the top three.

In the annual Port-A-Potty Grand Prix, the Warrior entry of point leader Maynard Bartlett was victorious.

Thunder Road is back in action next Thursday (Aug 10) for the NAPA/Make-A-Wish event. Which includes the return of Run What-U-Brung! Show up at the pit ticket booth by 6:30pm with helmet in hand to enter the event. All Run What-U-Brung entrants must be at least 18 years of age, have a valid registration and current inspection sticker, no studded tires will be allowed. Adult tickets are nine dollars, children (6-12) are only three dollars and a family of four (two adults, two children) are just 18 dollars.

Image 1: "Irish" John Donahue shows off his trophy after winning the Late Model Feature

Image 2: Donahue (26) leads the way for Chad Wheeler (92) and Dave Pembroke (44) in the Late Model event

Image 3: Shawn Fleury showing off his new trophy following the NAPA Tiger Sportsman feature.

Image 4: Greg Adams Jr. leaps onto the roof of his car following his first career Allen Lumber Street Stock feature.

Image 5: Maynard Bartlett Jr. of Wolcott and team crossing the line in the Port-A-Potty Grand Prix