Contributed by: ACT Staff
Headlines of the 2012 Season
2012 was a season for the record books at Barre’s Thunder Road, but several storylines have left fans clamoring for more in 2013. Here are some of the major highlights from the 2012 season at the” Nation’s Site of Excitement.
Nick Sweet V Dave Pembroke
Sweet and Pembroke have now swapped the Championship back and forth for the past three seasons. In those years, they have won nearly a quarter of all the races in the Late Model division with five apiece. Neither driver has had an average finish outside of the top ten in the last three seasons, nor have they finished outside the top four in points. They both have two Thunder Road Championships to their name. Currently, Phil Scott and Cris Michaud hold the most Thunder Road titles among active drivers at three each, and Pembroke and Sweet will have to battle it out once again in 2013 in hopes of joining that list.
Revenge of Runner-Ups
In 2011, Nick Pilotte lost the Allen Lumber Street Stock Championship by three points on a last lap pass. In 2012, Pilotte ripped the division wide open, winning the title by 144 points over rookie sensation Dean Switser, Jr. Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman driver Bobby Therrien came into last year’s Milk Bowl second in points to eventual Champion Derrick O’Donnell, but after trying to aggressively get through the field ended up caught in a wreck and came up short. Therrien got another shot in 2012. Coming into the Milk Bowl 9 points down, Therrien won the race and claimed the title by just two points.
Barre’s own Cody Blake enjoyed a breakout year in the Late Models in 2012 under the leadership of new crew chief and former Bond Auto Tiger Champion Derrick O’Donnell. He took fifth overall in the Late Model standings on the wings of seven top fives and ten top tens. To put it into perspective, in 2011 he had three top fives, and five top tens.
Sophomore sensation Cam Ouellette also enjoyed a significant boost with the purchase of a new car in the Allen Lumber Street Stock division, finishing fifth overall in the standings after seven top five finishes and ten top tens. In the previous year, he had one top five, three top tens and finished 21st overall.
Checkers or Wreckers
2012 proved once again that wins are a must. Just three drivers in the top ten of the Bond Auto Tigers went without a win, and only three more in the Allen Lumber Street Stocks. Each champion had the most, or was tied for the most, wins in their respective division. (Sweet with 4, Therrien with 2, Pilotte with 3.) Sweet had at least twice as many wins as every competitor in the Late Model division except Cris Michaud.
In 2012, there were only three multi-time winners in the Late Model division: Nick Sweet (4), Cris Michaud (3), and Jay Laquerre (2). The Bond Auto Tigers had just four: Bobby Therrien (2), John Lambert (2), Chris Pelkey (2), and Randy Gonyaw (2). And the Allen Lumber Street Stocks had only two: Nick Pilotte (3) Tommy Thunder (3)
Nick Sweet became only the third Late Model Champion in Thunder Road’s history to win four races en route to the championship. He joins Cris Michaud in 2004, and Brian Hoar in 1999.
For Brian Hoar and Nick Sweet, when it rained it poured. Hoar, in his search for his ninth American Canadian Tour Championship, swept both ACT events at Thunder Road (The Merchants Bank 150 in May, and the Labor Day Classic in September), while eventual King of the Road Nick Sweet swept both Vermont State Late Model Series Events at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement.”
In 2012, many drivers had a shot at big wins at the Nation’s Site of Excitement. John Lambert claimed the biggest race of his career in the Bond Auto Tiger 100 lap special, and former Junkyard Warrior Champion Donny Yates picked up his first ever Allen Lumber Street Stock victory in the annual 50-lap special. Bunker Hodgdon picked up his first Milk Bowl victory, and first win since his rookie season in 2008 in the Allen Lumber Street Stock division. Jay Laquerre broke through for two victories in the Late Models, scoring his first victories since 2001. Blair Bessett claimed the season opener in the Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen, winning a feature event for the first time in his 34-year career. There were ten first time winners across all the divisions in 2012.