Thunder Road SpeedBowl
Eric Williams won the 20th annual New England Dodge Dealers VT Governor’s Cup stock car race Thursday night at Barre’s Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl before a huge crowd at the high banked, quarter-mile paved oval. Defending Late Model Champion, Williamstown’s Cris Michaud, nearly caught Williams as the leaders threaded their way through lapped traffic over the final circuits but the Hyde Park driver was able to pin Michaud behind a lapped car which guaranteed him the win. Michaud settled for the runner-up spot while point leader Dennis Demers from Shelburne, who led the race three different times, was third. Completing the top five finishers were Jamie Fisher also from Shelburne and Chad Wheeler from Waterbury Ctr.

(PHOTO AT LEFT: Eric Williams hosts the VT Governor's Cup trophy after winning the 20th annual event)

Williams commented, “Dennis (Demers) was really hooked up tonight. I really had to earn this (win). These guys (Demers and Michaud) are great to race with.” He continued, “I don’t know what happened to Jay (Laquerre), he had a rocket ship tonight.”

Williams accepted the VT Governor’s Cup from the state’s Commander-in-Chief, the Honorable James Douglas. It was the second meeting between the two – Douglas previously presented Williams with the New England Dodge Milk Bowl several years ago also at Thunder Road.

(PHOTO AT RIGHT: Phil Scott (left) loaned Kenny Schrader one of his Ford Fusion race cars for the New England Dodge Dealers VT Governor's Cup.)

The gloves are off Thursday as Nextel Cup star Kenny Schrader of Fenton, MO returns to Thunder Road July 13th in an attempt to capture the VT Governors Cup. The 51-year-old driver will take on the ¼ mile asphalt oval and it’s weekly heroes for a second time. Schrader will join the Late Models in a car provided by Phil Scott of Montpelier for the New England Dodge Dealers VT Governors Cup, a special 100-lap feature. Local Late Model competitors were excited the first time Schrader rolled into town, however this time they will take him on as an outside coming in to take away their prized Governors Cup. First Schrader will need to qualify for the event, which last year proved to be a difficult task for the veteran driver. Forced to qualify through a consolation round, Schrader went on to finish the feature in the ninth position.

Late Model stock car driver, Joey Laquerre of E. Montpelier gave himself an early birthday present Thursday by winning the Charter Communication/CMT 50 at Barre’s Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl. Laquerre, who has the distinction of winning a feature race at the high banked quarter-mile oval in each of five decades, will turn 63 in four days. He dominated the race from his pole starting position. . (PHOTO: Joey Laquerre takes a lap of honor following his victory in the Charter Communications/CMT 50)

Middlesex resident, Phil Scott, who started 11th, was second, while Joe Becker from Jeffersonville, was a close third. Completing the top five were Hyde Park’s Eric Williams and So Barre’s Mike Bailey.

From the outset, Laquerre set a blistering pace and left the battle for position to the rest of the field. David Chagnon of Colchester, clearly one of the most improved Late Model drivers in competition this year, held on for the runner-up spot early but was bested by Pete Fecteau from Morrisville. Fecteau, a former track champion set off after Laquerre. Rookie contender, Bailey, had other plans for Fecteau and passed the veteran using the outside groove to move in to second. Fecteau’s Pontiac eventually faded toward the rear of the pack.