PHOTO: Nick Sweet celebrates in victory lane after winning the Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 at Thunder Road. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)

— by T.J. Ingerson

BARRE — Having the best strategy sometimes is better than having the best car. For Nick Sweet, the best strategy proved to be the best for him. Sweet pitted on lap 144, restarted 17th, and then charged through the field, and took the lead from then-leader Joey Polewarczyk on lap 187 to win the Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl.

The hometown fan favorite Sweet rode in the top five for the entire race before pitting his Rick Paya owned No. 57 Saint J Auto/RPM Racing Engines Ford Fusion. Sweet restarted fourth after a lap 178 caution, allowing him to work quickly around early race leader John Donahue and Scott Payea to move into second. A lap 184 caution put Sweet on the outside of Polewarczyk, and with fresher tires, moved quickly by him to take the lead.

“It definitely was the right strategy,” a happy Sweet said. “We race 50 laps here every Thursday night. You can start twentieth and if you’re faster than everybody and come through the field, you’re going to look heroic. And that’s what we did today. We just went to the outside of everyone. It was awesome. I had a blast. It’s nice to be in your hometown and show off your skills, and it always makes me look good when the car’s good. It’s awesome.”

The 2010 Thunder Road champion said his weekly experience helped him work though the field quickly after pitting, and also will enjoy one of the perks of the victory.

“You have to have experience to run around here,” explained Sweet. “The Thursday night experience helped. It’s not an easy place to get around, and the guys who have experience run well here. It’s a real treat for me to be on top here. And now, I get my name on another granite monument.”

Polewarczyk, of Hudson, N.H., held on for second. Polewarczyk was penalized after a lap 60 caution for his involvement, but felt that helped him overall.

“It really was a blessing,” said an exhausted Polewarczyk. “At the time, I thought it was going to hurt us, but it ended up helping us. We made some adjustments, so when we ended up taking our tires, the car was better.”

Milton, Vt.’s Scott Payea challenged Donahue for the lead on numerous occasions, and settled for third after Sweet got around him late in the race. Donahue, of Graniteville, Vt., led a race high 168 laps and settled for fourth. Fort Kent, Me.’s Austin Theriault took home his fourth straight top five ACT finish with a fifth place finish.

Former King of the Roads Cris Michaud and Jean-Paul Cyr finished sixth and seventh, while Waterbury, Vt.’s Brett Wheeler was eighth. 2011 King of the Road Dave Pembroke, of Middlesex, Vt., was ninth and Wayne Helliwell, Jr., of Dover, N.H., completed the unofficial top ten.

ACT point leader Brian Hoar was involved in a lap 88 incident involving Patrick Laperle and Jamie Fisher while running in the top ten. Hoar battled all race and ended up with a 16th place finish.

The American-Canadian Tour goes back north of the boarder for a doubleheader weekend. Saturday, September 10th sees the Showdown at Chaudiere at Autodrome Chaudere in Vallee-Jonction, Que., putting the 11 best from the United States Late Model series up against the 11 best from the ACT Castrol Series. On Sunday, September 11th, the American-Canadian Tour will go to the Riverside Speedway in Ste-Croix, Que., for the CanAm 200. Qualifying for that event is completed, and will see Joey Polewarczyk and Brian Hoar start on the front row.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200
American-Canadian Tour — Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Sunday, September 4, 2011

(# – denotes rookie)

1. (7) Nick Sweet, Barre, Vt.
2. (4) Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, N.H.
3. (19) Scott Payea, Milton, Vt.
4. (1) John Donahue, Graniteville, Vt.
5. (25) Austin Theriault, Fort Kent, Me.
6. (11) Cris Michaud, East Montpelier, Vt.
7. (12) Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton, Vt.
8. (6) Brett Wheeler, Waterbury, Vt.
9. (9) Dave Pembroke, Middlesex, Vt.
10. (2) Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Dover, N.H.
11. (14) Chip Grenier, Graniteville, Vt.
12. (13) Ricky Rolfe, Albany Township, Me.
13. (5) Joey Becker, Jeffersonville, Vt.
14. (3) Brent Dragon, Milton, Vt.
15. (20) Quinny Welch, Lancaster, N.H.
16. (22) Brian Hoar, Williston, Vt.
17. (8) Randy Potter, Groveton, N.H.
18. (21) Jamie Fisher, Shelburne, Vt.
19. (23) Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier, Vt.
20. (29) Jamie Aube, North Ferrisburgh, Vt.
21. (27) # Ben Ashline, Pittston, Me.
22. (30) # Dave Farrington, Jr., Jay, Me.
23. (16) # Jimmy Hebert, Williamstown, Vt.
24. (10) Matt White, Northfield, Vt.
25. (17) Brooks Clark, Fayston, Vt.
26. (26) Luke Hinkley, Claremont, N.H.
27. (15) Patrick Laperle, St-Denis, Que.
28. (18) Todd Davis, Claremont, N.H.
29. (24) Cody Blake, Barre, Vt.
30. (28) Glen Luce, Turner, Me.