PHOTO: Same driver, same pose, different trophy: Dave Pembroke picked up his second-straight win at Thunder Road in Thursday’s Times Argus Mid-Season Championships. (Leif Tillotson photo)

BARRE — Dave Pembroke was on the outside looking in eight days ago at Thunder Road. Now he’s the driver everyone is chasing.

The Middlesex veteran survived a wild 75-lap, double-points Late Model feature at the Times Argus Mid-Season Championships on Thursday to take his second-straight victory and finish the game of leapfrog he started a week ago. Before last week’s event on July 7, Pembroke was 11th in the point standings; his back-to-back victories, coupled with a late-race tangle between previous point leaders John Donahue and Phil Scott, have vaulted Pembroke to the top of the charts.

Pembroke drove his No. 44 Vermont State Employees Credit Union/Lamoille Valley Ford car from 14th starting spot and was in the right places at the right times on lap 67, which saw three different sets of leaders.

Chip Grenier, who had led the race from the outset, spun while attempting to split the lapped cars of Brad Mattson and Jim Morris in a three-wide move. Scott and Donahue were on the front row for the restart, but an unsuccessful lane change by Donahue sent Scott spinning and saw Donahue penalized to the rear of the field. Cody Blake became the next leader, with Pembroke to his outside. Pembroke quickly jumped into the lead and ran away with the win.

“That was just unbelievable,” said Pembroke, who started 14th on the 28-car field and raced forward in a pack with high-point drivers Scott, Donahue, and Nick Sweet. “We’ve been getting this Ford figured out this year, and we found something last week. Then to have all that happen tonight, it’s just unreal. We had a great car, but we were a little lucky tonight, too. It’s too bad for them, but I’ll take it. We were out of this thing a week ago but we never gave up as a team.”

Sweet came alive late in the going to finish second, with Blake tying his career-best finish in third place. Polesitter Marcel Gravel was fourth with Grant Folsom fifth, Brett Wheeler sixth, and Scott Payea seventh. Eric Williams finished eighth while substituting for Mike Bailey.

Donahue was officially scored 16th, Grenier 17th, and Scott 19th.

Pembroke’s Mid-Season win was worth 150 points, double the normal payout. He also won his qualifying heat to snag 28 bonus points, and with Donahue and Scott’s misfortunes Pembroke’s total of 587 points was enough to push him into the lead. Unofficially, Donahue fell to second (566 points), Sweet jumped up to third (562), and Blake made a huge leap from 15th to fourth (524). Scott fell to sixth behind Payea.

Pembroke’s biggest concern, however serious or not, wasn’t with the racing but rather with the duties the point leader at the halfway mark each year has at Thunder Road: Competing in the annual “Port-A-Potty Grand Prix” push-cart race on Calkins Portable Toilets/WDEV Radio Night on July 28.

“I was kind of hoping to be second in points after tonight. This means we’ve got to dig out our old potty and freshen it up,” Pembroke laughed. “There’s nothing like having that golden toilet seat to hang on the mantle after you win.”

Barre drivers Scott Coburn and Chris Pelkey turned in a barnburner in the 40-lap Tiger Sportsman feature. Pelkey dogged leader Blair Bessett during the first three-quarters of the race, spending his time on the outside lane before taking over. Bessett and Tucker Williams, who were running in the top five, crashed in the final laps to set up a three-lap dash to the win between 18 year-old Pelkey and veteran Coburn.

Coburn’s No. 1 One Credit Union/M&M Beverage Chevrolet beat Clarkson University student Pelkey in a drag race out of Turn 4 to collect the seventh win of his career, the first since September 2009. Pelkey finished a career-best second with Mike Billado third. Joe Steffen and high-point drivers Bobby Therrien and Derrick O’Donnell were next in line.

Eric Badore, who was second in points entering the night, finished 11th after a late scrape with Pete Ainsworth.

Jeff Martin, Jr., of Northfield beat Cabot rookie Ken Christman in a close finish to take his second Street Stock victory of the year in a 30-lap feature. Bunker Hodgdon, Jayme Lee, and David Whitcomb completed the top five. Unofficially, Greg Adams, Whitcomb, and Nick Pilotte are separated by just four points at the top of the standings following the Mid-Season race.

Jason Woodard of Waterbury picked up his third Junkyard Warrior win.

Thunder Road’s next event is Casella Waste Management Night on Thursday, July 21. Racing begins at 6:30pm.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Times Argus Mid-Season Championships
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Thursday, July 14, 2011

(# – denotes rookie)

ACT Late Model (75 laps)
1. Dave Pembroke, Middlesex
2. Nick Sweet, Barre
3. Cody Blake, Barre
4. Marcel Gravel, Wolcott
5. Grant Folsom, Waitsfield
6. Brett Wheeler, Waterbury Center
7. Scott Payea, Milton
8. Eric Williams, Hyde Park
9. # Jimmy Hebert, Williamstown
10. Reno Gervais, Island Pond

Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman (40 laps)
1. Scott Coburn, Barre
2. Chris Pelkey, South Barre
3. Mike Billado, Essex
4. Joe Steffen, Grand Isle
5. Bobby Therrien, Hinesburg
6. Derrick O’Donnell, Bradford
7. Mike Martin, Craftsbury Common
8. Shawn Fleury, Middlesex
9. John Lambert, Northfield
10. Mike Ziter, Williamstown

Allen Lumber Street Stock (30 laps)
1. Jeff Martin, Jr., Northfield
2. # Ken Christman, Cabot
3. Bunker Hodgdon, Hardwick
4. Jayme Lee, Barre
5. Dave Whitcomb, Elmore
6. Alex Whitcomb, Montpelier
7. Nick Pilotte, Jefferson, N.H.
8. Jamie Davis, Wolcott
9. Dan Lathrop, Hyde Park
10. Greg Adams, Jr., Hardwick

Junkyard Warrior (30 laps)
1. Jason Woodard, Waterbury
2. Kevin Wheatley, Williamstown
3. Brock Parrott, Williamstown