PHOTO: Grant Folsom (#81) and Chip Grenier (#22) battle for the Late Model win at Thunder Road on Sunday. (Leif Tillotson photo)

Stoehr wins NEMA feature; Bigelow survives scary NEMA Lite wreck

–by T.J. Ingerson

It appeared to be smooth sailing for Grant Folsom. The Waitsfield native had built up a half-track lead in the Harvest Equipment Trophy Dash at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl on Sunday evening before a caution flag flew on lap 38, putting hard charging Chip Grenier on his outside. Folsom, however, was able to hold off Grenier, which included a late-race charge, to win.

Folsom’s No. 81 Pyrofax Energy Chevrolet took the lead on lap 6 from polesitter Scott Payea and opened up a half-track lead. As Folsom was pulling away, Grenier, of Graniteville, was charging through the field, working the outside from his 11th-place starting position. Grenier was able to get by Payea for second before the lap 38 caution, putting himself next to Folsom on the restart.

After two previous attempts, Grenier’s No. 22 Caron Motorsports Chevrolet was able to make a challenge at Folsom, as the two traded the lead before Folsom was able to slightly pull away. However, Grenier was not done and made a late charge with two laps to go, working to the outside of Folsom and pulling even with him. Folsom was able to hold off the charge and captured his first victory of 2011.

“I was nervous,” said Folsom about the restarts with Grenier. “They came on the radio and told me Chip was coming up through the field pretty good. Chip’s a great driver and he ran me really clean. I couldn’t ask for anything else. I’m just very happy it came out the way it did. I’m glad we made it, but I’m glad he was right there too.”

“It was tough,” said Grenier about his battle with Folsom. “We’re buddies. We’re real good buddies. He texted me, asking if he could borrow a swaybar. He beat me with my swaybar. It was a blast. That’s what the fans come for. We were side by side duking it out. It was fun. The car was real good right until the end when it gave up on me. It’s great though to see Grant have a good run.”

“I knew what he was going to do,” Folsom said about Grenier’s late charge with two laps to go. “I knew if I kept my car up that once he cleared me he would try to dive under me. As soon as he cleared me, it was back to defense mode. As soon as he knew the bottom wasn’t there, he moved back to the outside. It was cat-and-mouse, but it was definitely a lot of fun.”

John Donahue, from Graniteville, started from the 14th position and finished third. Rookie Jimmy Hebert, of Williamstown, and defending champion Nick Sweet, of Barre, completed the top five.

Phil Scott, Trampas Demers, Payea, Cody Blake, and Mike Bruno completed the unofficial top ten.

Eric Badore, of Milton, won the Bond Auto Parts Tiger Sportsman feature from the 11th starting position after passing John Lambert on a lap 18 restart. Shawn Fleury, of Middlesex, finished second, and Mike Ziter, of Williamstown, finished third. Lambert held on for fourth place while polesitter Blair Bessett finished fifth.

Rookie Ken Christman started on the pole and never let go of the lead, winning his first career Allen Lumber Street Stock feature. Kyle Streeter, of Waitsfield, finished second. Dave Whitcomb, of Elmore, survived a wild last lap to finish third.

Kevin Wheatley of Williamstown picked up his second straight Junkyard Warrior victory over Jason Woodard of Waterbury.

Russ Stoehr, of Lakeville, Mass., was victorious in the return of the NEMA Midgets to Thunder Road. Stoehr also set a new track record, with a lap of 11.34 seconds. The NEMA Midget feature was slowed by a red flag on lap 14 after Paul Scally clipped the wall trying to avoid a stopped car and flipped end over end down the pit entrance. Scally, of Raynham, Mass., was uninjured.

Russ Wood, Jr., of Pelham, N.H., won the NEMA Lites event, winning by nearly a half track. The 25-lap race was red flagged for nearly 15 minutes after Paul Bigelow and Joey Mucciacciaro made contact out of turn 4, sending both drivers head on into the wall. Bigelow’s car would flip down the frontstretch, coming to rest just past the start finish line. Initially unresponsive, Bigelow would regain consciousness, and was able to leave the race car with some assistance from the safety crews. Bigelow, of Berlin, Conn., was transferred to Central Vermont Medical Center where he was diagnosed with a concussion and bruised knees. He was released Sunday night.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Harvest Equipment Night
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Sunday, June 19, 2011

(# – denotes rookie)

ACT Late Models (50 laps)
1. Grant Folsom, Waitsfield
2. Chip Grenier, Graniteville
3. John Donahue, Graniteville
4. # Jimmy Hebert, Williamstown
5. Nick Sweet, Barre
6. Phil Scott, Berlin
7. Trampas Demers, South Burlington
8. Scott Payea, Milton
9. Cody Blake, Barre
10. Mike Bruno, Castleton

Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman (35 laps)
1. Eric Badore, Milton
2. Shawn Fleury, Middlesex
3. Mike Ziter, Williamstown
4. John Lambert, Northfield
5. Blair Bessett, Worcester
6. Josh Demers, Middlesex
7. George May, Barre
8. Derrick O’Donnell, Bradford
9. Jason Allen, Barre
10. # Kyle Pembroke, Montpelier

Allen Lumber Street Stock/Junkyard Warrior (25 laps)
1. # Ken Christman, Cabot (SS)
2. Kyle Streeter, Waitsfield (SS)
3. Dave Whitcomb, Elmore (SS)
4. Tim Campbell, West Topsham (SS)
5. Alan Maynard, Fairfax (SS)

16. Kevin Wheatley, Williamstown (JW)
18. Jason Woodard, Waterbury (JW)
23. Brock Parrott, Williamstown (JW)
26. Danny Brassard, East Randolph (JW)
28. Chris Emerson, Barre (JW)

NEMA Midgets (25 laps)
1. Russ Stoehr, Lakeville, Mass.
2. Greg Stoehr, Bridewater, Mass.
3. Mike Horn, Ashland, Mass.
4. Jeremy Frankoski, Huntersville, N.C.
5. John Zych, Liverpool, N.Y.

NEMA Lites (25 laps)
1. Russ Wood, Jr., Pelham, N.H.
2. Anthony Nocella, Woburn, Mass.
3. Andy Barrows, New Ipswich, N.H.
4. Randy Cabral, Plymouth, Mass.
5. Carl Medeiro, Jr., Westport, Mass.