Seven points separate three drivers with two races remaining
BARRE, VT – The “King of the Road” 2007 stock car title bout at Barre’s Thunder Road is the closest in the history of the American-Canadian Tour Late Model division. Following the 50-lap Vermont ACE Hardware Dealers main event on Thursday, three drivers find themselves in a virtual deadlock for the track championship.
After adding up championship points earned in qualifying heats, the bonus-points “semi feature,” and the main event, Shelburne driver Jamie “Hurricane” Fisher’s lead has shrunk from 17 points to a razor-thin three points over Montpelier racer Dave Pembroke, 831-828. Three-time Champion Cris Michaud of Williamstown ranks third, just seven points behind Fisher at 824 with only two championship-counting events left in the season. Never in the history of the ACT Late Model division has the Thunder Road title fight been this close between three drivers with just two races remaining.
Fisher put on a memorable performance in the ACE Hardware event, storming up the outside groove in the fashion that earned him his nickname. After breaking a suspension part on his S.D. Ireland Chevrolet and spinning off the race track with only ten laps remaining, Fisher’s pit crew made hasty repairs during the caution period. The veteran driver restarted the race on the lead lap in 22nd position and fought his way forward to finish an impressive eighth. Pembroke and Michaud also made late charges toward the head of the field. Pembroke finished sixth, Michaud ninth.
Two of the closest point battles in Thunder Road history included Williamstown’s Chuck Beede, a four-time “King of the Road.” Beede led Gary Caron by eight points entering the 16th of 18 events in 1992, and eventually won the crown by a dozen points. In 1994, Beede fought for the title with Jim Cilley, and entered event #12 of 14 with a nine-point edge, eventually taking the championship by 11 points. In both cases, the third-place driver was far out of contention.
Fisher was the winner of the closest overall finish ever recorded, as he tied Middlesex driver Phil Scott with 995 points in 2003. Fisher won the tie-breaker with two 2003 feature victories to Scott’s one. Brian Hoar nipped Eric Williams for the 1999 championship by just a single point.
Following the Vermont ACE Hardware Dealers event, Barre’s Nick Sweet holds onto the NAPA Tiger Sportsman lead over Joey Laquerre of East Montpelier by 71 points (829-758). Another hometown driver, Lloyd Blakely, moved into the Allen Lumber Street Stock point lead with an ACE Hardware victory, pacing Hinesburg’s Bobby Therrien by 27 points (869-842). Hardwick’s Bunker Hodgdon continues to lead the Power Shift Online Junkyard Warriors, 937-904, over Wolcott’s Jamie Davis.
Kinney Drugs presents the final Thursday night race of the season next Thursday, August 23 at 6:30pm. The annual Kids Poster Contest is also on tap, with awards handed out to the winning artwork in three age groups – 6 & under, 7-9, and 10-12. Gates open at 4:30pm. General admission is $9 for adults, $3 for kids, and just $18 for a family of any two adults and two kids. For more information, call (802) 244-6963 or visit www.thunderroadspeedbowl.com.