Thunder Road SpeedBowl
Thursday racing at Barre’s Thunder Road is coming to a close for the season this week with the Kinney Drugs Trophy Dash on August 24th. The Late Models will crown their champion following the event while the NAPA Tiger Sportsman, Allen Lumber Street Stocks and Power Shift Warriors will continue their title chase through the New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl on October 1st. The Late Model division’s point battle has predominately been between Chad Wheeler of Waterbury Center and Shelburne’s Dennis Demers. After a disappointing outing last week, Demers dropped to third which moved defending Late Model champion, Cris Michaud from Williamstown, into contention for his third consecutive title and fourth overall.

Wheeler and Michaud, both veterans, battled last season for the title, and as fate would have it, the two are set to battle in the final weekly race of the season. Wheeler suffered a disappointing outing last week due to cars in front of him slowing down for a competitors spinning across the track. With no where to go Wheeler struck the car ahead of him and was tagged from behind. Wheeler and several others suffered damage extensive enough to keep them out of contention for the victory. Wheeler’s 19th place finish allowed Michaud to make up ground, as he finished third in the Vermont ACE Hardware Dealers event last week. The 43 year-old driver currently trails Wheeler by only 37 points (952-915). Demers sits ten points behind Michaud and 47 points within striking distance (905).

Washington County Senator Phil Scott of Middlesex became the first Late Model repeat winner of the summer at Barre’s Thunder Road on Thursday. Scott was joined in the Winner’s Circle by runner-up Rich Lowery of Charlotte and Williamstown’s Cris Michaud. Rounding out the top five finishers in the Vermont ACE Hardware Dealers Trophy Dash were Joe Becker of Jeffersonville and Eric Williams from Hyde Park.

(PHOTO AT RIGHT: Phil Scott's #14 and the #8 of Rich Lowrey pass under the checkered flag of Chief Starter, Mike Wilder after 50 grueling laps in the VT ACE Hardware Dealers Trophy Dash)

Veteran racer, Gary Caron from Shelburne lined alongside freshman driver Mike Bailey of Barre for the start of the 50-lap Late Model feature. After battling back and forth for the initial circuits, youth bested experience as Bailey was able to complete the pass in the outside groove on lap five. He held the position the first of three caution flags flew on lap 14 for a minor incident.

Lining up alongside Bailey for the restart was Lowrey, another of the experienced weekly racers. Experience prevailed on this start and before the 15th circuit was half complete, Lowery had passed the rookie driver. A long stretch of green flag racing allowed Lowery to distance himself from the field as he carefully maneuvering his Chevrolet through heavy traffic.

The second yellow came out on lap 24 which brought Lowrey back to the field. Despite the disruption, the leader again pulled away from the field when action resumed. Lowery and crew anxiously awaited the laps to tick down as they aimed for his first victory of the season. A yellow for David Chagnon’s spin in the first turn brought out the caution for the third and final time with just three laps remaining. This time Lowery had a new dance partner in Scott. The two veterans battled door-to-door over the final laps which brought the packed house to their feet.

The summer months have been busy for young Joel Hodgdon of Craftsbury. Not only did he graduate from Craftsbury High School he also has been on a mission at Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre. The youngster collected his first career victory early in the season. He became interested in auto racing after his father Paul won an Enduro. Paul later went on to race a NAPA Tiger Sportsman which motivated Joel to race.

Hodgdon entered an Enduro for kids at Groveton which taught him how to be patient in heavy traffic. At the age of 16 Joel decided to join the Allen Lumber Street Stock ranks in car number 36, the same number of his father’s Enduro car.

The youngster was part of a memorable victory lane at the WDEV event back in June. The top three drivers were members of the graduating class of 2006 (all from different high schools). Hodgdon can be spotted in the pit area leaning against his car chatting with other drivers, or underneath the car making an adjustment with his father and crew .

Hodgdon gained his mechanical knowledge when employed by Riverview Garage. The Morrisville garage is owned by Late Model competitor Pete Fecteau. “Pete is a great guy and I like to watch him race. He’s an exciting race car driver and a lot of fun to be around.” Fecteau isn’t the only driver Hodgdon roots for on Thursday nights he is also a fan of sophomore Tiger Sportsman driver Nick Sweet. “I loved to race against Nick when he was still a Street Stock driver. He raced me clean and I always appreciated that.” Of his new cast of “youngsters” his favorite to go door-to-door with is friend Jason Corliss. “Jason and I have a great time hanging out together in the pits and racing hard against each other on the track. It’s pretty cool that we both got our first career victory this season.”

Joel is competing in his third season in the Allen Lumber Street Stocks and will continue to chase the King of the Road crown weekly at Thunder Road Speedbowl. He is currently tied for tenth in the point standings. The 2006 Street Stock King of the Road will be crowned following the New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl on September 30th/October 1st.

Did you know:
Joel Hodgdon is self employed as a house painter
Joel played basketball in high school