PHOTO: Emily Packard celebrates his first career Thunder Road win, one week after rolling her Street Stock on the front stretch. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)

Laquerre, Pelkey score second wins of season

–by T.J. Ingerson

BARRE — There may more than a few people who believed Emily Packard wouldn’t win this early, this soon. And after last Thursday night’s events, Emily Packard would probably be among that group.

The 15-year-old East Montpelier native was involved in a nasty crash that saw her No. 98 car hit the famous turn four “widowmaker” and flip over. A handful of other cars piled into the flipped over car of Packard, including the point leader Nick Pilotte.

“The flip last week, it was terrifying,” Packard said. “That was my biggest fear in a race car — to flip it over. And the flip wasn’t that bad, it was the afterwards, everyone piling in. That was a little overwhelming.”

The Ford Mustang for Packard sat destroyed, and there was more than a little doubt that the team would miss the Fourth of July Special event that would occur in just five days. Her family-owned team was able to put the car back together in time for the Tuesday special, and set up the moment for Thursday night.

Packard started the 25-lap Allen Lumber Street Stock feature in the fourth position and quickly gained the top spot. Her hopes for a win were nearly dashed when she got in oil, like many other drivers, that was being leaked onto the track and spun out of turn four. Race officials said they had already called for the caution due to the oil, and Packard was given the top spot back.

Packard pulled away on the restart and gained her first career Thunder Road win. She also became the first female to win at Thunder Road in over five years.

“It felt amazing. I didn’t think I was actually going to [win],” Packard said. “I had no idea after the last two weeks, our finshes weren’t that great and we’ve had really bad luck. To be able to get into the top three is amazing. And to win, it’s just, I don’t even know the words to describe it. It’s awesome.”

Morrisville’s Billy Hennequin, better known as “Weiner” to Thunder Road fans, claimed his second straight runner-up finish. Jamie Davis of Wolcott claimed the final podium spot. Waterbury’s Bob Eldred and Barre’s Cameron Ouellette finished fourth and fifth. Garry Bashaw, Dean Switser, Jr., Dan Lathrop, Amanda Habel, and Ken Christman completed the top ten.

Barre’s Jay Laquerre broke free from the inside lane shortly before the halfway point in the 50-lap Late Model feature and moved past leader Ricky Roberts on the outside to claim his second Late Model win of the season.

“The track changed a lot in practice,” Laquerre said in the track’s press release. “We made a few changes that didn’t work at all early in the day [during practice]. We just got it going at the right time.”

Jamie Fisher of Shelburne claimed another runner-up finish in another caution-free Late Model event. Washington’s Roberts finished third. Waterbury’s Brett Wheeler and Barre’s Cody Blake completed the top five. Point leader Nick Sweet finished sixth. Mike Bailey, Cris Michaud, Dave Pembroke, and Brooks Clark completed the top ten.

Chris Pelkey was able to claim his second win of the season in the 35-lap Tiger Sportsman feature. Pelkey, of South Barre, took advantage of a midrace restart to claim the lead from rookie Jason Woodard. Joe Steffen, of Grand Isle, claimed the second position while Waterbury Centers’ Woodard finished third. Josh Demers of Middlesex and Joel Hodgdon of Craftsbury raced home to the fourth and fifth finishing positions, respectively. Kyle Pembroke, Mike Ziter, Mike Martin, David Finck, and Jason Allen completed the top ten.

Thunder Road will host round three of the Vermont State Late Model Championship series on Thursday, July 12, for the Governor’s Cup 150. Racing will start a half-hour earlier at 6:00pm.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Charter Communications Night
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Thursday, July 05, 2012

(# – denotes rookie)

ACT Late Models (50 laps)
1. Jay Laquerre, Barre
2. Jamie Fisher, Shelburne
3. Ricky Roberts, Washington
4. Brett Wheeler, Waterbury
5. Cody Blake, Barre
6. Nick Sweet, Barre
7. Mike Bailey, South Barre
8. Cris Michaud, East Montpelier
9. Dave Pembroke, Middlesex
10. Brooks Clark, Fayston

Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen (35 laps)
1. Chris Pelkey, South Barre
2. Joe Steffen, Grand Isle
3. # Jason Woodard, Waterbury Center
4. Josh Demers, Middlesex
5. Joel Hodgdon, Craftsbury
6. Kyle Pembroke, Montpelier
7. Mike Ziter, Williamstown
8. Mike Martin, Craftsbury Common
9. David Finck, Barre
10. Jason Allen, Barre

Allen Lumber Street Stocks (25 laps)
1. Emily Packard, East Montpelier
2. William Hennequin, Morrisville
3. Jamie Davis, Wolcott
4. Bob Eldred, Waterbury
5. Cameron Ouellette, Barre
6. Garry Bashaw, Lincoln
7. # Dean Switser, Jr., Lyndonville
8. Dan Lathrop, Morrisville
9. Amanda Habel, Roxbury
10. Ken Christman, Cabot