PHOTO: Point leader Nick Sweet extended his point lead with a Times Argus Mid-Season Championship double-point counting win. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson

BARRE — Two-thousand twelve is appearing to be the year of Nick Sweet. The hometown favorite claimed his second straight Thunder Road Late Model win, and third win in four races.

But Sweet was able to win on the night championships can be made or broken: the double point counting Times Argus Mid-Season Championship.

The 2010 Thunder Road champion started 11th in the 22-car starting field and had moved himself just shy of the top five cars when a lap 13 caution flew. Sweet took advantage of the restart and jumped into the top five.

A lap 23 caution put Sweet in the fourth position, and after a side-by-side battle between leaders Joey Becker and Dave Whitcomb, Sweet pounced on Whitcomb and took the lead on lap 42. A late race caution flag on lap 66 didn’t faze the 27-year-old racer as he claimed the win and extended his point lead.

“I don’t even think about [the points]” Sweet said after his mid-season championship win. “I race the race for that night. The way I live, you race that race like it’s the last race of your life. I drove that [car] for all it was worth tonight and had a really good run. If we keep doing that, we’re going to win this championship this year.”

Jeffersonville’s Becker was able to claim the second position shortly after Sweet took the lead and finished the 75-lap main event there. Whitcomb, of Essex Junction, held on for third. Jamie Aube, of North Ferrisburg, battled in the top five all race and finished fourth, while the Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott, of Berlin, finished fifth.

Brooks Clark and Trampas Demers finished sixth and seventh, respectively. Dave Pembroke was involved in an early race incident with Cody Blake, but rallied over the final 62 laps to finish eighth. Eric Chase and Scott Payea completed the top ten finishers.

Unofficially, Sweet holds a 78-point lead over Pembroke with five point counting races remaining. Trampas Demers jumped from sixth to third and sits 96 points behind Sweet. Scott jumped four positions and sits fourth, 105 points behind Sweet. Cody Blake fell to fifth, 115 markers behind Sweet.

Shawn Fleury survived a caution filled 50-lap Bond Tiger Sportsmen feature on Mid-Season Championship night. Fleury, a two-time Tiger champ from Middlesex, took the lead on lap 32 and claimed his first win of the season.

Apparent second place finisher Dylan Payea was penalized by track officials for a bump-and-run move on Eric Badore in the closing stages of the race. Badore, of Milton, was awarded second place while Brendan Moodie, of Wolcott, was moved into the final podium spot. Payea, of Henniker, N.H., was penalized to the fourth position, while Barre’s Jason Corliss was fifth.

Second place point man entering the night Josh Demers was able to pass point leader Jason Allen on the last lap to finish sixth. Allen, of Barre, held on for seventh, while Mike Martin, Bobby Therrien, and John Lambert completing the top ten finishers.

Unofficially, Fleury jumped into the second position and sits six points behind Allen, with Demers one point behind Fleury. Mike Martin sits fourth, 12 points back of Allen, with Brendan Moodie fifth, 15 points shy of Allen.

Gary Mullen won a caution-free Allen Lumber Street Stock feature. Mullen started the 35-lap feature in the fifth position and took the lead on lap 13. Mullen was chased for the remainder of the race by Jamie Davis and Dave Whitcomb. Davis, of Wolcott, made a few attempts to pass Mullen, but was unable to do so. Whitcomb, of Elmore, was able to get by Davis late to take second, while Davis held on for third. Garry Bashaw, of Lincoln, and point leader Nick Pilotte, of Jefferson, N.H., completed the top five finishers.

Second place point man Dean Swister, Jr., Donny Yates, Cameron Ouellette, Emily Packard, and Tommy Smith completed the top ten.

Unofficially, Pilotte maintained his five-point lead over Swister following the mid-season championship event.

Thunder Road host the We Dig Barre Tiger Heritage 100 on Thursday, July 26.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — Times Argus Mid-Season Championship
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Thursday, July 19, 2012

(# – denotes rookie)

ACT Late Models (75 laps)
1. Nick Sweet, Barre
2. Joey Becker, Jeffersonville
3. Dave Whitcomb, Essex Junction
4. Jamie Aube, North Ferrisburg
5. Phil Scott, Berlin
6. Brooks Clark, Fayston
7. Trampas Demers, South Burlington
8. Dave Pembroke, Middlesex
9. Eric Chase, Milton
10. Scott Payea, Milton

Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen (50 laps)
1. Shawn Fleury, Middlesex
2. Eric Badore, Milton
3. Brendan Moodie, Wolcott
4. Dylan Payea, Henniker, N.H.
5. Jason Corliss, Barre
6. Josh Demers, Middlesex
7. Jason Allen, Barre
8. Mike Martin, Craftsbury Common
9. Bobby Therrien, Hinesburg
10. John Lambert, Northfield

Allen Lumber Street Stocks (35 laps)
1. Gary Mullen, Tunbridge
2. Dave Whitcomb, Elmore
3. Jamie Davis, Wolcott
4. Garry Bashaw, Lincoln
5. Nick Pilotte, Jefferson, N.H.
6. # Dean Swister, Jr., Lyndonville
7. Donny Yates, North Montpelier
8. Cameron Ouellette, Barre
9. Emily Packard, East Montpelier
10. Tommy Smith, Williamstown