BARRE -- Dave Pembroke says there was one thing -- one very unexpected thing -- that made his day a good one at the ACT Late Model Tour's Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 at Thunder Road in Barre on Sunday.
"Drawing 70th," Pembroke said, seemingly taking himself by surprise as the words came out of his mouth. The number-70 chip is usually the one in the ACT qualifying heat starting position draw bag that nobody wants; it means that the driver who chooses it will start from the last position in the final heat race. Nine times out of ten, it makes for a long day.
For Pembroke, however, it was a blessing. The Middlesex driver, who had previously etched his name in the granite monuments honoring former Milk Bowl and Memorial Day Classic winners at the track, drove from 11th starting position -- last, of course -- to finish third in his heat race, earning a '+8' handicap value and the pole position for the 200-lap main event.
"When we rolled in here this morning, the worst thing I thought that ever could have happened was pulling '70' out of [the draw bag], and it turns out being the thing that did it for us, absolutely," said Pembroke. "And then the heat race working out the way it did. You couldn't have scripted it any better to get through the heat race to third in 15 laps. I mean, it just doesn't happen. Our day started like that and we went from last on the board to first on the field in 15 laps."
From there, all he managed to do was lead every lap of the Labor Day Classic 200, putting all but the top five cars a lap down in the process. Pembroke ran at an unprecedented pace, as the first 181 laps were run without a caution flag. The only incident -- a minor spin by Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. and Eric Chase -- did little to slow the leader down.
"We went up this morning after the drivers meeting, Tom (Curley, the ACT/Thunder Road president) took all the Late Models up to the three stones up there [in the grandstands]. My name was on two of them at the beginning of the day, now it's on all three," Pembroke grinned. "That was my goal, I'm telling you, I wanted to get on that Labor Day Classic [monument]. I've been second, I've been third, and now we've won it. It's pretty special, it's pretty cool to be on all three of those up there."
Just prior to the lap 181 caution period, Pembroke used Eric Williams, who was running in fifth place at the tail end of the lead lap, as a guide through heavy lapped traffic. The situation reminded Pembroke of the 2006 edition of the race.
"The 200 that I finished second in, that's about the way we finished. I was on [Williams's] bumper, but he was on the lead lap that race," said Pembroke. "This one, we were chasing him around, he was on the tail end and he was opening the door, we were just kind of hanging with him and didn't really need to pass him at the time, so we were just patient. He was doing a good job, he was good on the bottom and he wasn't moving people, but he was just running around and we were following him and it worked out really good, I should probably go thank him."
Far behind Pembroke, nearly a half-lap away at times, Patrick Laperle and John Donahue had an entertaining, sometimes physical battle for second place. The two also had contact in their qualifying heat. After Laperle forced Donahue and the lapped car of Craig Bushey three-wide after the lap 181 restart, they raced side-by-side for the remainder of the event without further incident. Donahue, of Graniteville, nipped St-Denis, Qué. driver Laperle at the finish line for the runner-up spot. Brian Hoar of Williston finished a bumper ahead of Williams in fourth place.
ACT point leader Scott Payea, the outside polesitter, suffered badly worn tires due to the long green flag run, and finished 11th after running at the front with Pembroke early in the event. All 30 starters finished the 200-lap race, which was completed in a blistering 54 minutes.
Scott Coburn of Barre took down the 50-lap Tiger Sportsman feature for his second win of the year, beating Ricky Roberts and Pete Ainsworth, while rookie Tucker Williams of Hyde Park posted his fourth Street Stock win of the season over Tommy "Thunder" Smith and David Whitcomb. Donny Yates of North Montpelier was the top Junkyard Warrior driver, beating Kevin Streeter and Ken Christman.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS -- Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200
ACT Late Model Tour -- Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Sunday, Sept. 6, 2009
Pos.-Driver-Hometown (# - indicates rookie)
ACT Late Model Tour (200 laps)
1. Dave Pembroke, Middlesex
2. John Donahue, Graniteville
3. Patrick Laperle, St-Denis-sur-Richelieu, Qué.
4. Brian Hoar, Williston
5. Eric Williams, Hyde Park
6. Cris Michaud, Northfield
7. Brent Dragon, Milton
8. Chip Grenier, Graniteville
9. Craig Bushey, Cambridge
10. Nick Sweet, Barre
11. Scott Payea, Milton
12. Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton
13. Phil Scott, Montpelier
14. Pete Potvin, III, Graniteville
15. Jamie Fisher, Shelburne
16. Travis Stearns, Auburn, Me.
17. Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, N.H.
18. Brad Leighton, Center Harbor, N.H.
19. #Quinny Welch, Lancaster, N.H.
20. Randy Potter, Groveton, N.H.
21. Tony Andrews, Northfield
22. Trampas Demers, South Burlington
23. Tyler Cahoon, St. Johnsbury
24. Joey Becker, Jeffersonville
25. Eric Chase, Milton
26. Dave Paya, North Clarendon
27. Gary Caron, Colchester
28. Dave Whitcomb, Essex Junction
29. Jerry Lesage, Winooski
30. Glen Luce, Turner, Me.
NAPA Tiger Sportsman (50 laps)
1. Scott Coburn, Barre
2. Ricky Roberts, Washington
3. Pete Ainsworth, Jr., Middlesex
4. Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier
5. Tommy Therrien, Hinesburg
6. Lance Allen, Barre
7. Bobby Therrien, Hinesburg
8. Shawn Fleury, Middlesex
9. Brendan Moodie, North Wolcott
10. Matt Potter, Marshfield
Allen Lumber Street Stock/Power Shift Online Junkyard Warrior (25 laps)
1. #Tucker Williams, Hyde Park (SS)
2. Tommy Smith, Williamstown (SS)
3. David Whitcomb, Elmore (SS)
4. Jason Corliss, Danville (SS)
5. Lloyd Blakely, Barre (SS)
21. Donny Yates, North Montpelier (JW)
22. Kevin Streeter, Waitsfield (JW)
23. Ken Christman, Cabot (JW)
24. Keith Fortier, Hinesburg (JW)
25. Kevin Dodge, Barre (JW)