–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
BARRE — The 2007 Street Stock champion. The 2012 Flying Tiger champion. And now, the 2017 Thunder Road Late Model champion.
Bobby Therrien has now won them all. And nobody else has.
The Hinesburg racer became the first driver in Thunder Road’s modern era to win the championship in all three Thunder Road weekly divisions.
“I know there are a lot of guys that run here that have come up through the ranks,” Therrien said. “But to be the first one to get a championship in each one, that’s adds a little bit more meaning to it.
“It’s pretty cool.”
Therrien began the season unsure of his 2017 Thunder Road commitments with aspirations to chase after an ACT Late Model Tour championship. A hard incident during the Community Bank 150 in June, however, changed the plans and the team focused solely on Thunder Road weekly Late Model competition as they lead the championship fight.
A pair of early season incidents during the feature events left Therrien fourth in the standings after four races. But, the final nine events saw Therrien finish no worse than sixth and added three runner-up finishes.
“At the beginning of the year, even though we were having good qualifying runs, come feature time, I couldn’t bring it back to them in one piece,” Therrien said. “(The team are) the ones that sat me down and said ‘listen, we need to finish these races.
“And that’s where it turned around for us. I owe it all to them.”
Therrien entered the double point counting midseason championship event 29 points up on Demers, but Demers’ run to a podium finish saw that lead dwindle to just 11 points. The 30-year-old Therrien then used his runs in the heat race and semi-feature to open that point gap despite finishing behind Demers in three of the next four races.
“From midseason on, (Demers) never gained a point on us,” Therrien said. “We either left here (with points gained) or we left here even, all because of the qualifying races.”
Therrien netted a total of 144 additional points — 66 points more than Demers — during his heat races and semi-features during the 2017 season in part to five semi-feature victories.
For Therrien, his championship team was led and assisted by numerous past championships and was led by three-time Thunder Road “King of the Road” Derrick O’Donnell and owned by multi-time Thunder Road championship crew chief Pete Duto.
“I can’t thank the guys on the car enough,” Therrien said. “We showed up every week with a fast car.”
1 – Bobby Therrien and his Fast One Motorsports team celebrate their 2017 Thunder Road “King of the Road” Late Model championship. (T. J. Ingerson/VMM photo)
2 – Bobby Therrien hoists his 2017 Thunder Road Late Model championship trophy after he was crowned “King of the Road” on Sunday. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)