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Strategy Nets Sweet Second Straight T-Road Labor Day Classic

Posted By Tj Ingerson On September 6, 2015

Categories: Thunder Road

Nick Sweet celebrates his second straight Labor Day Classic 200 on Sunday afternoon at Thunder Road IntPHOTO: Nick Sweet celebrates his second straight Labor Day Classic 200 on Sunday afternoon at Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)

Becomes first three-time winner of late summer classic

--by T.J. Ingerson
VMM Editor

Track position is key at Thunder Road and Nick Sweet played the ultimate strategy game on Sunday afternoon in the Labor Day Classic.

The hometown fan favorite was the first car to hit pit road on lap 79 to change two right side tires and then moved in position to take the lead when the top challengers – namely newly crowned champion Derrick O’Donnell – entered the pits later in the event.

“I knew here that track position is huge,” Sweet said. “It paid off and we came out on top. I’m really happy.”

Sweet would restart in the seventh position on lap 127, and then in the third position just a few laps later on lap 132. From there, Sweet would ride in the second-or-third spot from then until lap 178 when the caution flag flew for O’Donnell.

On the ensuing restart with Brett Gervais to his inside, Sweet jumped out to the lead. Sweet appeared to have secured the victory, but was forced to hold off Gervais during a three-lap run-to-the-finish after an incident to earn his second straight Labor Day Classic 200.

“I knew I was going to have to get (Gervais) on a restart,” Sweet said. “That last three laps there, I had a couple of choice words. My dad had to tell me to calm down. On the restart before, (the car) actually acted kind of funny and stumbled on itself, but it didn’t on that last restart.

“We got (Gervais) going down into (turn) one and cleared him off of (turn) two. I was then making sure that every lap I was staying on the bottom and hitting the mark. And we did that and it turned out to be a pretty good finish.

For Sweet, it was his second straight win in the late summer classic and his third overall. The win puts him at the top of most wins in the Labor Day Classic and equal with Larry Demar and Jean-Paul Cabana for back-to-back wins.

“It’s pretty honorable, I’d say,” Sweet said. “I’m very happy about that. I actually got told that down in victory lane. I didn’t even know that. That’s pretty surreal and I’ll take that and bottle that feeling up because someday all of this great fun is going to be over for me. If I can keep those memories, that’s key.”

Sweet had a stellar July run, but faded down the stretch and surrendered the championship prior to the final event of the season. Through all of the late season turmoil, Sweet

“I have a saint for a wife,” Sweet said. “I don’t think I’ve seen here in too long it feels like. She’s been at home taking of the kids and the newborn baby and not getting much sleep at night.

“This means a lot to overcome it – it’s almost a challenge to myself that not too many people know.”

Island Pond’s Gervais led the most laps – 105 – and finished runner-up to Sweet for his best performance in his young career. Another youngster, Kyle Pembroke of Montpelier, led 48 laps and finished third.

Hometown driver Cody Blake finished fourth while Jason Corliss of Barre used a late race pit stop to change his tires and rallied back to a fifth place finish. Scott Dragon, Trampas Demers, and ACT Late Model Tour driver Brad Babb finished sixth, seventh, and eighth, respectively. O’Donnell was working his way back through the field, but suffered a fuel-related issue on lap 178 and was forced to pit. However, the three-time champion was able to work his way back to finish ninth. The Vermont Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott completed the top-ten finishers.

The 200-lap event took just over one hour and 28 minutes to complete. There were five lead changes among five drivers. Nine cautions slowed the event.

Vermont Motorsports Magazine will have more from the 37th Annual Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic soon.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic 200
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Sunday, September 6, 2015

(# -- denotes rookie)

1. (13) Nick Sweet, Barre – 200
2. (3) Brett Gervais, Island Pond – 200
3. (8) Kyle Pembroke, Montpelier – 200
4. (12) Cody Blake, Barre – 200
5. (10) Jason Corliss, Barre – 200
6. (29) Scott Dragon, Milton – 200
7. (9) Trampas Demers, South Burlington – 200
8. (19) Brad Babb, Windham, Maine – 200
9. (14) Derrick O’Donnell, North Haverhill, N.H. – 200
10. (7) Phil Scott, Berlin – 200
11. (20) Brooks Clark, Fayston – 200
12. (16) Mike Bailey, South Barre – 199
13. (26) # Darrell Morin, Westford – 199
14. (30) Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton – 199
15. (17) Emily Packard, East Montpelier – 199
16. (5) Boomer Morris, Barre – 196
17. (1) Eric Badore, Milton – 196
18. (18) Chip Grenier, Graniteville – 196
19. (28) Chad White, Fort Ann, N.Y. – 195
20. (21) Mike Ziter, Williamstown, Vt. – 187
21. (22) Scott Coburn, Barre -- 179
22. (31) Brad Bushey, Cambridge – 178
23. (11) John Donahue, Graniteville – 164
24. (25) Matt White, Northfield – 149
25. (2) Josh Demers, Montpelier – 132
26. (6) Jason Allen, Barre – 130
27. (27) Arthur Heino Jr., Newport, N.H. – 125
28. (4) Dave Whitcomb, Essex Junction – 60
29. (23) Ricky Roberts, East Barre – 49
30. (15) Tyler Cahoon, St. Johnsbury – 28
31. (24) Jeremy Zullo, Claremont, N.H. – 15