PHOTO: John Donahue rebounded from a tough Mid-Season Championship event last week to pick up his third Thunder Road win of the year on Thursday. (Eric LaFleche/ photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson

BARRE — A week ago, John Donahue may have been the driver who lost the most after the double points Mid-Season Championships. Thursday night at Thunder Road, though, Donahue was the driver who gained the most after winning on Casella Waste Management Night.

Starting from the 13th position, the Graniteville racer quickly worked through the field. Donahue moved into the top ten shortly before lap 10, then powered his way into the top five only a handful of laps later. Donahue’s run through the field left behind his fellow championship contenders, as Nick Sweet, Dave Pembroke, and Cody Blake all struggled to come through traffic.

As Donahue caught the duo of Dave Whitcomb and Ricky Roberts battling for second, all three were reeling in early leader Joey Becker. Becker, of Jeffersonville, started second and quickly took the lead, but faded. Whitcomb, of Essex Junction, used Becker as a pick, moving past Roberts and Becker on the outside to take the lead on lap 31.

Whitcomb’s lead was short lived, as Donahue followed Whitcomb and then successfully made the same Turn 2 crossover move he botched last week with Phil Scott, moving to the inside of Whitcomb and taking the lead just a lap after Whitcomb. Donahue was unchallenged to the checkers, holding on to the lead during a five-lap shootout after a hard hit by Milton’s Eric Chase resulted in a red flag.

“You have to take the good with the bad,” Donahue said. “Last week, I screwed up. This week, the car was really good. I let [Whitcomb] work with Ricky [Roberts], and when he got around Ricky, I said, ‘Alright, now’s my time to go’. [Whitcomb] was still up high, and I turned right in the middle of [Turns] 1 and 2 and [the car] turned and stuck and got under him. All in all, a good points day, [and] it picks the morale back up. It’s a big deal.”

Whitcomb held on for second, while Brooks Clark, of Fayston, ran to a solid third place finish. Scott Payea, of Milton, finished in the fourth spot after starting 17th. North Ferrisburgh’s Jamie Aube finished fifth. Trampas Demers, Chip Grenier, Roberts, Dennis Demers, and Phil Scott completed the unofficial top ten.

The win for Donahue was his third Thunder Road points paying win of the season, following wins in the Memorial Day Classic and the CARQUEST Governor’s Cup. Unofficially, he regained the points lead with Thursday’s performance.

Hyde Park’s Tucker Williams took home his third Tiger Sportsman victory of the season after an intense battle with Henniker, N.H., rookie Dylan Payea. Payea, the younger cousin of Late Model competitor Scott Payea, used a lap 15 restart to challenge Williams. The pair swapped the lead a handful of times before Payea faded on the outside. Williams then drove away from the field to secure the victory.

Danville’s Jason Corliss finished second, while Marshfield’s Matt Potter finished third. Middlesex racers Shawn Fleury and Josh Demers completed the top five. Point leader Derrick O’Donnell was sixth. Payea held on for seventh, while Brendan Moodie, Jason Allen, and Eric Badore completed the top ten.

Afghanistan war veteran M.C. Ingram of Essex Junction made a late race pass on Waitsfield’s Kyle Streeter to claim his second career victory in the Street Stocks. Nick Pilotte of Jefferson, N.H., was also able to get around Streeter in the closing laps to secure second. Streeter hung on for third. Point leader Greg Adams, of Hardwick, was fourth, while Cabot’s Ken Christman was fifth.

Jason Woodard, of Waterbury Center, took home his fourth victory of the season in Junkyard Warrior action.

Thunder Road’s next event is Thursday, July 28, with the annual Port-A-Potty Grand Prix on WDEV/Calkins Portable Toilets night. Racing begins at 6:30pm.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Casella Waste Management Night
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Thursday, July 21, 2011

(# – denotes rookie)

ACT Late Model (50 laps)
1. John Donahue, Graniteville
2. Dave Whitcomb, Essex Junction
3. Brooks Clark, Fayston
4. Scott Payea, Milton
5. Jamie Aube, North Ferrisburgh
6. Trampas Demers, South Burlington
7. Chip Grenier, Graniteville
8. Ricky Roberts, Washington
9. Dennis Demers, Shelburne
10. Phil Scott, Berlin

Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman (35 laps)
1. Tucker Williams, Hyde Park
2. Jason Corliss, Danville
3. Matt Potter, Marshfield
4. Shawn Fleury, Middlesex
5. Josh Demers, Middlesex
6. Derrick O’Donnell, Bradford
7. # Dylan Payea, Henniker, N.H.
8. Brendan Moodie, North Wolcott
9. Jason Allen, Barre
10. Eric Badore, Milton

Allen Lumber Street Stock/Junkyard Warrior (25 laps)
1. Martin Ingram, Essex Junction (SS)
2. Nick Pilotte, Jefferson, N.H. (SS)
3. Kyle Streeter, Waitsfield (SS)
4. Greg Adams, Hardwick (SS)
5. # Ken Christman, Cabot (SS)
6. Dan Lathrop, Hyde Park (SS)
7. Alan Maynard, Fairfax (SS)
8. Sid Sweet, Jr., Williamstown (SS)
9. Paul Giacherio, Jr., Washington (SS)
10. Jennifer Getty, Cambridge (SS)

23. Jason Woodard, Waterbury Center (JW)
27. Brock Parrott, Williamstown (JW)
29. Danny Brassard, East Randolph (JW)