Thursday, August 03 2006 @ 11:09 PM EDT
Contributed by: ACT Staff
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.