Thunder Road SpeedBowl
Late Model “King of the Road” Title Fight is Closest in History

Seven points separate three drivers with two races remaining

Late Model racer Jamie "Hurricane" Fisher leads Dave Pembroke and Cris Michaud by the slimmest of margins

The “King of the Road” 2007 stock car title bout at Barre’s Thunder Road is the closest in the history of the American-Canadian Tour Late Model division.  Following the 50-lap Vermont ACE Hardware Dealers main event on Thursday, three drivers find themselves in a virtual deadlock for the track championship.

After adding up championship points earned in qualifying heats, the bonus-points “semi feature,” and the main event, Shelburne driver Jamie “Hurricane” Fisher’s lead has shrunk from 17 points to a razor-thin three points over Montpelier racer Dave Pembroke, 831-828.  Three-time Champion Cris Michaud of Williamstown ranks third, just seven points behind Fisher at 824 with only two championship-counting events left in the season.  Never in the history of the ACT Late Model division has the Thunder Road title fight been this close between three drivers with just two races remaining.

Fisher put on a memorable performance in the ACE Hardware event, storming up the outside groove in the fashion that earned him his nickname.  After breaking a suspension part on his S.D. Ireland Chevrolet and spinning off the race track with only ten laps remaining, Fisher’s pit crew made hasty repairs during the caution period.  The veteran driver restarted the race on the lead lap in 22nd position and fought his way forward to finish an impressive eighth.  Pembroke and Michaud also made late charges toward the head of the field.  Pembroke finished sixth, Michaud ninth.

Scott Wins Wild Late Model Feature at Thunder Road

Phil Scott (14) and Marcel Gravel (5) drag race to the checkers on VT ACE Hardware Dealers Night

Champion American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model stock car racer Phil Scott of Middlesex drove from 17th to win the 50-lap Vermont ACE Hardware Dealers feature at Barre’s Thunder Road on Thursday night.  Scott, a three-time “King of the Road” nipped Marcel Gravel of Wolcott by a nose at the finish line in one of the wildest races of the season.

Colchester’s David Chagnon led the opening 40 laps before a caution flag for point leader Jamie Fisher of Shelburne bunched the field.  Fisher had broken suspension part on his car, but returned on the lead lap after repairs.  Chagnon squared off against Gravel at the restart until the race’s second yellow flag flew on lap 46.  A seven-car pileup two laps after the race resumed involved Chagnon, and he was done for the night.

Gravel assumed the top spot for the final restart on lap 48, with a hard-charging Scott in the outside lane.  Gravel held on as the white flag flew, but Scott mashed the gas pedal in the final corner to take his first win of the season by about four feet.  Rich Lowrey of Charlotte and Shawn Fleury benefited from the lap 48 pileup to finish in the third and fourth positions, respectively.  Mike Bailey of Barre finished fifth.  Dave Pembroke finished sixth ahead of Joey Becker.  Fisher made an amazing recovery to finish eighth after restarting 22nd with ten laps remaining.  Cris Michaud and John Donahue rounded out the Top 10 finishers, unofficially.

With two championship events remaining, Fisher unofficially retains the point lead by a miniscule three markers ahead of Pembroke (831-828), and just seven over Michaud (824).  The “King of the Road” battle is among the closest in the 48 year history of Thunder Road.

Sweet Inching Closer to First Sportsman Title at Thunder Road

Nick Sweet

Hometown stock car racer Nick Sweet has been a dominant force in the NAPA Auto Parts Tiger Sportsman division at Barre’s Thunder Road this summer, and has been making strides toward winning his first Track Championship at the historic 48 year-old speedway.  Just a few weeks away from his 23rd birthday, Sweet is part of Thunder Road’s “new breed” of young, talented racers.  Entering the next-to-last Thursday night event, the VT ACE Hardware Dealers Trophy Dash this Thursday, Sweet leads veteran East Montpelier racer Joey Laquerre by a comfortable margin in the Sportsman point standings, 801-692.

“We’re doing pretty well right now, but the goal is to just keep finishing races,” said Sweet.  “If the race goes smoothly, we usually are able to move up and finish in the Top 10.”

Sweet has ten Top 10 finishes in a dozen events this season, including a pair of feature victories.  His only missteps were an 18th-place result in early July, and when he failed to qualify his Fortier’s Community Care Home/SymQuest Group Chevrolet for the main event on June 28.  As the Sportsman division routinely sees 40 or more cars attempting to qualify for 26 starting positions, only two drivers – feature winner Tom Therrien of Hinesburg and former NAPA Sportsman champion Joe Steffen of Essex Junction – have made all 12 feature races this year.