Thunder Road SpeedBowl
Cal Poulin of Braintree is one racer who didn’t mind waiting for the postponed NAPA/Make-A-Wish event at Barre’s Thunder Road. The event, originally slated for Thursday, August 10, was moved back 24 hours to Friday night. In spite of a stellar weather forecast, the rescheduled date was plagued with rain, but blessed with two beautiful rainbows and outstanding stock car racing. Thirty-six year old Poulin refused to let a pair of mid-race rain delays stop him from scoring his first career Late Model victory. He held off runner up and point leader Chad Wheeler of Waterbury Center and rookie contender Marcel Gravel of Wolcott. Completing the top five were Hyde Park’s Eric Williams and defending champion Cris Michaud from Williamstown.

Gravel led the field to the initial green flag and showed the way until the first caution for a minor incident. Poulin sped to the point on the outside groove to take the lead for three laps. Gravel regained the top position when Poulin’s car lost traction on the outside groove and dropped back one spot, then another as Rich Lowrey moved in to challenge in the low groove.

The 50-lap NAPA/Make-A-Wish Trophy Dash was halted for the first time due to rain on the 18th circuit. The race resumed with Gravel and Poulin in the front row. As he had earlier in the race, Poulin powered into the lead at the drop of the green flag. This time though, he completed the pass and was not seriously challenged over the final circuits. Rounding out the top ten finishers were David Chagnon of Colchester, Shelburne’s Jamie Fisher, Dennis Demers also from Shelburne, Trampas Demers of South Burlington and Montpelier’s Phil Scott.

Two weeks ago, Barre’s Nick Sweet destroyed his NAPA Sportsman car in a violent front stretch crash. Along with his family based team and the assistance of former Sportsman Champion, Joe Steffen, Sweet rebuilt his wrecked race car over the past 14 days. Steffen even loaned the sophomore driver his second car to compete in last week’s Calkins/Windshield World event. Their efforts certainly paid off for the 2005 NAPA Tiger Sportsman Rookie of the Year returned to the high banks and won the feature event in convincing style.

The youngster charged from ninth place on the grid to take the lead from Kevin Campbell of Fairfax at the half-way mark of the 35-lap main event. Sweet was joined in victory lane by Campbell and Doug Crowningshield of Barre in his best outing of the season. Completing the top five was Steffen from Essex Junction and Scott Coburn of Barre.

The 25 lap Allen Lumber Street Stock feature went to Bill Hennequin of Morrisville who scored his first win of the season. Justin Gordon of Berlin and Logan Blacklock of Panton accompanied the veteran driver to the Winners Circle. Completing the top five were Tim Potter of Plainfield and Lloyd Blakely of Barre.

Hardwick’s Bunker Hodgdon posted his third Power Shift Warrior win of the year ahead of Frank Sanborn from Waterbury Center and point leader Maynard Bartlett Jr of Wolcott.

Thunder Road’s regular weekly schedule returns on Thursday, (August 17) for the Vermont ACE Hardware Dealers Trophy Dash. Pit gates open at 4:00pm, spectator gates will open at 5:00pm, and post time is 7:00pm. Adult tickets are nine dollars, children (ages 6-12) are just three dollars and a family of four (two adults-two children) is only eighteen dollars.

PHOTO 1: Cal Poulin celebrates his first win!
PHOTO 2: Tiger Sportsman driver Nick Sweet.
PHOTO 3: Allen Lumber Street Stock Victory Lane.
PHOTO 4: Checkerd flag went to Bunker Hodgdon in the Power Shift Warrior main event.