PHOTO: Brett Wheeler was able to nip Jamie Aube at the line to score his first Late Model win at Thunder Road since 1999. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson

BARRE — Brett Wheeler was able to stay strong on the inside of Jamie Aube to claim his first Thunder Road Late Model win since June of 1999.

Wheeler took the lead on lap seven of the 50-lap Late Model feature, but a restart on the same lap put the veteran Aube on the outside. Aube was able to lead lap eight, but Wheeler fought back and led lap nine. Wheeler was able to move past Aube, but another caution flag on lap 18 put Aube back on the outside of Wheeler.

Aube was able to obtain the lead on the restart, but Wheeler was able to fight back. It was not for very long though, as Aube was able to retake the lead. Wheeler, however, was able to hang tough on the inside and never let Aube fully get past. The duo respectfully raced each other hard and banged doors a handful of times. Wheeler was able to take advantage of Aube losing traction, and took the lead with one lap to go to claim the win by mere inches.

“I’m glad (I was racing with) Jamie,” Wheeler, of Waterbury, said. “He’s a lot of fun to race with. He’s clean, but he pinned me down, so I was getting loose out of the corners. We kept going back and forth and it depended on who got the better launch out. I knew if I got out of the corner right, and it was hit or miss, I (have a shot). Sometimes it would burn the tires off and sometimes it would hook. Luckily, it hooked when it counted.”

Aube, of North Ferrisburg, appeared to be en route to his first career Late Model win at Thunder Road until the final two laps.

“That’s what racing is all about,” Aube said. “That’s what this place is all about. Brett is a great competitor. He never used me up once and gave me all the room I needed. I slipped a little bit on the last lap and he was able to get ahead of me by a couple of inches. I’m the loser, but it was fun.”

Second place point man Dave Pembroke, of Middlesex, was able to work his way from the 13th starting position to claim third by inches. The defending Thunder Road Late Model champion was lurking for the entire second half of the race, but had no room to make an attempt for the win with Wheeler and Aube side-by-side in front. Derek Ming of Island Pond finished fourth after being nipped at the line by Pembroke, while Cody Blake, of Barre, finished fifth.

Cris Michuad and Phil Scott were fifth and sixth, respectively. Point leader Nick Sweet was involved in an early race scuffle and received damage, fell back, but charged back through the field and finished eighth. Veteran Joy Laquerre and Brooks Clark completed the top ten.

Waterbury’s Bob Eldred took the lead on lap two of the 25-lap Allen Lumber Street Stock feature and cruised to his first career win. Troy Kingsbury, of Waitsfield, was able to work his way from a 11th starting position in the caution-free race to finish second. Point leader Nick Pilotte, of Jefferson, N.H., started four spots behind Kingsbury and was able to finish third. Rookie Kevin Dodge, of Barre, used an outside pole starting position to finish fourth, while Jamie Davis, of Wolcott, finished fifth.

Donny Yates, Billy Hennequin, rookie Kevin Wheatley, second place point man Dean Swister, Jr., and Bunker Hodgdon completed the unofficial top ten.

Thunder Road returns to Thursday night race on August 2 for the annual Porta-Potty Grand Prix on WDEV/WLVB/Calkins night.

Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Sunday, July 29, 2012

(# – denotes rookie)

ACT Late Models (50 laps)
1. Brett Wheeler, Waterbury
2. Jamie Aube, North Ferrisburg
3. Dave Pembroke, Middlesex
4. Derek Ming, Island Pond
5. Cody Blake, Barre
6. Cris Michaud, East Montpelier
7. Phil Scott, Berlin
8. Nick Sweet, Barre
9. Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier
10. Brooks Clark, Fayston

Allen Lumber Street Stocks (25 laps)
1. Bob Eldred, Waterbury
2. Troy Kingsbury, Waitsfield
3. Nick Pilotte, Jefferson, N.H.
4. # Kevin Dodge, Barre
5. Jamie Davis, Wolcott
6. Donny Yates, North Montpelier
7. Billy Hennequin, Morrisville
8. # Kevin Wheatley, Brookfield
9. Dean Swister, Jr., Lyndonville
10. Bunker Hodgdon, Hardwick