Thunder Road SpeedBowl
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.

Stockwell Back-to-Back at Thunder Road

NAPA Auto Parts/Make-A-Wish Late Model Victory Lane (L-R) Shawn Fleury (3rd), winner Kip Stockwell, John Donahue (2nd) joined by reps from NAPA and Make-A-Wish

Braintree stock car racer Kip Stockwell made it back-to-back main event victories at Barre’s Thunder Road, taking Thursday’s 50-lap NAPA Auto Parts/Make-A-Wish Trophy Dash for the American-Canadian Tour Late Model division.  Stockwell steadily held off the challenges of Granitville’s John Donahue and Shawn Fleury of Middlesex for his third win of the season.

“I dream at night about winning at Thunder Road,” said an emotional Stockwell as he climbed out of his Sabil & Sons/Stockwell’s Garage Chevrolet.  “I love this place, and the last two weeks have been unbelievable.”

Fleury’s dramatic charge at Stockwell’s lead was interrupted first by Donahue’s strong inside-lane bid for second place, then by a bout with the frontstretch wall with less than two laps remaining.  Fleury held on to finish third behind Donahue.

Jamie “Hurricane” Fisher of Shelburne stormed up the outside lane to finish in fourth place ahead of Wolcott’s Marcel Gravel.  Cris Michaud, Eric Williams, rookie Chip Grenier, Dave Pembroke, and Dave Whitcomb rounded out the unofficial top ten finishers in order.  With three championship events remaining, Fisher unofficially leads Pembroke in point standings, 773-756.  Michaud is one point back at 755.

Point Battles Close at Thunder Road

Late Model point leader Jamie Fisher.
Championship point battles are close across the board at Barre’s Thunder Road, with four stock car racing divisions clashing to decide their title winners in the final half of the season.  Entering Thursday’s NAPA Auto Parts/Make-A-Wish Trophy Dash, three of the four divisional point leaders have spreads of just 20 points or less over their closest competitors.

Jamie “Hurricane” Fisher of Shelburne is tracking do
wn his second “King of the Road” crown in the American-Canadian Tour Late Model division, but has Williamstown’s Cris Michaud and Dave Pembroke of Montpelier at his heels.  Fisher and his S.D. Ireland Chevrolet team lead three-time track champion Michaud by only 16 points, with Pembroke just a single marker behind him.

“We’ve been working on the car all week trying to stay on top of our game,” said Fisher.  “I’ve got two of the best chasing me down.  Anything could happen,” Fisher said.  “We had the point lead in 2003 and then lost it late in the year, but then we came back again and won the title.”