Sophomore Late Model driver Nick Sweet will return to his hometown track in 2009, seeking Thunder Road's 50th "King of the Road" championship title. The Barre driver put up one of the most impressive rookie campaigns in several years on the American-Canadian Tour last season, but has decided to stay closer to home this year.
"Thunder Road is a track that we have enjoyed a lot of success at," the 24 year-old Sweet said. "With the track celebrating its 50th anniversary we feel this is a great year to be a part of the championship hunt."
On his way to easily winning Rookie of the Year honors, Sweet finished ninth in ACT Late Model Tour points last season with seven top-ten finishes in 11 starts, including a runner-up showing at Maine's Oxford Plains Speedway in September. He also finished sixth in the TD Banknorth 250 at the track in July.
Prior to his first season running in the top-tier Late Model class, Sweet was the 2007 NAPA Tiger Sportsman Champion at Thunder Road, and won Rookie titles in the Sportsman and Street Stock divisions in 2005 and 2003, respectively. He finished second in points at the track each year from 2003 to 2005, and won a total of a dozen races including events at Airborne Speedway (N.Y.), Canaan Fair (N.H.) Speedway, and Lee USA (N.H.) Speedway. Sweet is also the only two-time winner of the Dr. Gordon "Doc" Nielsen Rookie Award, an honor given to the top-performing freshman driver across all ACT and Thunder Road divisions, garnering the prize in 2003 and 2008.
The Saint J Auto dealership group of St. Johnsbury rejoins Sweet and his family's efforts for 2009, after entering the sport last year with the team.
"Nick did such a great job on the ACT Tour last year, that we really wanted to support his team this year at Thunder Road," said Saint J Auto co-owner John Loschiavo. "Nick’s performance last year offered us tremendous exposure, and we are very excited to see the STJAuto.com Pontiac team's commitment to Thunder Road’s 50th anniversary season."
Thunder Road's 50th season opens on May 3 with the American-Canadian Tour's Merchants Bank 150. The regular Thursday-night championship season opens on June 11.
(Photos courtesy Sweet Racing)