Thunder Road SpeedBowl
Three first time winners visited Thunder Road’s victory lane Sunday in the 28th annual Bond Auto Labor Day Dashes. The events at the Barre, VT oval were part of the track’s $10,000 to win ACTion Super Series race for the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Models.

Ray Stearns from East Corinth scored a convincing win, the fourth of his career and first of the season, in the Sportsman division’s 40-lap main event. The veteran racer started sixth in the 26 car field and took the lead from sophomore competitor Dick Lowrey on the 15th circuit with a daring move in the fourth turn.

Lowrey, who started third, took the lead from rookie polesitter Alex Perkins on the sixth circuit. While the battle waged at the front of the pack Stearns sliced his way through traffic. He sized up the leader for a couple of laps before diving low in the fourth turn as the rear end of Lowrey’s car drifted high. Stearns stuck the nose of his car underneath and powered into the top spot. With no cautions to slow him down, the leader extended his advantage until the checkered flag flew.

Dan Garrett Jr of Middlesex captured his first career Power Shift Junkyard Warrior victory Saturday at Barre’s Thunder Road as part of the ACT Tour’s Bond Auto Labor Day Classic weekend. Jayme Lee of Montpelier finished second and Bunker Hodgdon from Hardwick was third. Rounding out the top five was point leader Wolcott’s Maynard Bartlett Jr and Barre’s Ken Stridsberg.

Daniel Wilder Jr from Berlin and Barre’s John Duke started on the front row with Wilder taking the early advantage. Williamstown’s Mark LaFleche grabbed the lead on the fifth circuit after a restart for the 25-lap feature’s second of two caution periods. When action resumed, Garrett who had started the event 12th, had advanced to second place. Two laps later, Garrett passed LaFleche for the lead. He distanced himself from the field over the remaining circuits

Also on Saturday’s card were several practice sessions for the ACT Late Models as well as qualifying rounds for the NAPA Tiger Sportsmen and Allen Lumber Street Stocks. Thunder Road’s weekly divisions will have their feature events among the qualifying races for tomorrow’s $10,000 to win Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200.

Forty Late Models were in the pit area on Saturday with more expected on Sunday. Post time is 1:00 pm with spectator gates opening at 10:00 am.

The summer battle for the Late Model “King of the Road” and Rookie of the Year, have drawn to a close following the Kinney Drugs Trophy Dash at Barre’s Thunder Road. Chad Wheeler, the Waterbury Center veteran captured the Championship title while Wolcott’s Marcel Gravel claimed the Rookie of the Year honors. Gravel is no stranger to the Rookie of the Year status as he secured the title over a decade ago (1995) at the helm of an Allen Lumber Street Stock.

The Late Model division’s top freshman driver graduated from the NAPA Tiger Sportsman class where he had six wins to his credit in the highly competitive division. While he’s yet to visit the Winner’s Circle in the powerful Late Model, he has led races, posted several top finishes and raced side-by-side with many of the division’s veterans. The 30 year-old driver had been a contender for most of the 14 race weekly schedule, a testament to the knowledge he has gained both on the track and in the pit area talking to other drivers.

Gravel is the teammate to veteran racer Pete Fecteau of Morrisville who won the 1997 Thunder Road title and the 2001 American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model championship. Fecteau and Gravel formed their partnership in the latter part of the 2005 season. Fecteau approached the year as an opportunity to teach Gravel the ins and outs of the Late Model division. Gravel will be presented an award for his achievement at the annual Banquet of Champions which will take place in January, 2007.

The ACT Tour Rookie of the Year, NAPA Tiger Sportsman, and Allen Lumber Street Stock’s will be determined following the New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl on Sunday, October 1st.