Friday, August 14, 2009

Sweet Breaks Through in Late Models

Pembroke's crash hurts title chances

BARRE -- A long list of first-time feature winners at Thunder Road in 2009 got one name longer on Thursday night. Hometown sophomore Nick Sweet drove from 12th starting position to knock off his first career Late Model victory, becoming the fourth first-time winner in the division this season and the tenth consecutive non-repeat winner at the track.

Mike Bailey of South Barre led the majority of the first 30 laps, only letting Eric Chase nose ahead on three circuits after a lap 8 restart. Bailey was drilled in the right-side door on lap 29 by the lapped car of Matt White, however, and gave way to Sweet's Saint J Auto Pontiac one lap later. Sweet led the final 20 laps virtually uncontested, but was forced to outrace former track champions Jamie Fisher, Phil Scott, Cris Michaud, Reno Gervais, and point leader Jean-Paul Cyr to take the win, as a final restart of lap 40 bunched the field.

Fisher held on for his second runner-up finish in a row, with Michaud third, Scott fourth, and Cyr fifth. Bailey limped home in 20th place.

Sweet suffered engine problems last week and his team was still trying to solve the issue as of Thursday afternoon. "I can't say enough about the guys, they worked their butts off this week," said Sweet. "We were [at the shop], heck, I was going home before them and I usually don't do that. I'm usually one of the last guys there, and I was like, 'Guys, I gotta go to work in the morning,' and they would just stay down there.

"We lose as a team, we win as a team, and you really find out who your real friends are when you're down. I mean, look at us, we were down tonight. This is what happens in racing. You're at your lowest point in the season, you don't think it can get any worse, all of sudden you're like, 'I'm so sick of it, I can't wait for it to be over,' and then you win a race. And look at us now, I've got a grin on my face, I'm on the ninth cloud, and we're going to come back tomorrow."

The caution flag that flew on lap 40 was for championship contender Dave Pembroke of Middlesex, who was shoved off the track by White in Turn 2 and slid down the embankment before slamming into a dirt retaining wall. Pembroke's crew attempted to make repairs and sent their driver back to the track, but after driving down pit road, Pembroke parked the Vt. State Employees Credit Union Chevrolet before with heavy suspension damage. Pembroke entered the event second in points, just 11 markers behind Cyr. To make matters infinitely worse for Pembroke, top-five race finishers Scott, Michaud, Sweet, and Fisher are also tightly grouped in order behind Pembroke in the point standings, and the next green flag is set to fly at 6:00pm on Friday -- approximately 20 hours after Pembroke's crash, therefore severely limiting time for repairs.

Pembroke offered no comment on the incident, but his team plans to work throughout the day on Friday in order to race.

Shawn Duquette of Morrisonville, N.Y. clinched the ACT Tiger Sportsman Tri-State Series championship in a tie-breaker with Jason Bonnett despite crashing in the division's ACE Hardware 100. Shawn Fleury of Middlesex won the race after a late pass of Bradford's Derrick O'Donnell. Click here for the Tiger Sportsman event story.

Garry Bashaw of Lincoln earned his first career Street Stock win in the nightcap feature. Bashaw began racing in 2000 and had never won a main event. The win came in the first Street Stock/Junkyard Warrior combined 'A' feature run at Thunder Road since July 5. David Whitcomb of Elmore finished second over Tucker Williams, Michael Moore, and Mike MacAskill. Donny Yates of North Montpelier was the top-finishing Warrior driver in 21st place, taking his fourth win of the season in the division. Kevin Dodge of Barre was second, with Waitsfield's Kevin Streeter third. Street Stock driver Scott Maynard of South Burlington walked away from a multi-time rollover off Turn 2 that destroyed his car. MacAskill won the 'reserve' feature to qualify for the main event.

Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pos.-Driver-Hometown (# - denotes rookie)

ACT Late Model (50 laps)
1. Nick Sweet, Barre
2. Jamie Fisher, Shelburne
3. Cris Michaud, Northfield
4. Phil Scott, Montpelier
5. Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton
6. Craig Bushey, Cambridge
7. Eric Chase, Milton
8. Pete Fecteau, Morrisville
9. Reno Gervais, Island Pond
10. Jerry Lesage, Winooski

NAPA Tiger Sportsman (100 laps)
1. Shawn Fleury, Middlesex
2. Derrick O'Donnell, Bradford
3. Jimmy Hebert, Williamstown
4. Brendan Moodie, North Wolcott
5. Scott Coburn, Barre
6. Jason Bonnett, St. Albans
7. David Finck, Barre
8. Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier
9. Ray Stearns, East Corinth
10. Josh Demers, Middlesex

Allen Lumber Street Stock/Power Shift Online Junkyard Warrior 'A' Feature (25 laps)
1. Garry Bashaw, Lincoln (SS winner)
2. David Whitcomb, Elmore (SS)
3. #Tucker Williams, Hyde Park (SS)
4. Michael Moore, East Haven (SS)
5. Mike MacAskill, Williamstown (SS)

21. Donny Yates, North Montpelier (JW winner)

Street Stock/Warrior 'Reserve' Feature (25 laps)
1. Mike MacAskill, Williamstown (SS)
2. Tommy Smith, Williamstown (SS)
3. Gary Mullen, Tunbridge (SS)
4. Mike Martin, Craftsbury Common (SS)
5. #Danny Doyle, Hancock (SS)

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