PHOTO: Dennis Demers made his first appearance at Thunder Road in 2012 count as he claimed his fifth career Late Model victory. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photos)

–by T.J. Ingerson

BARRE — Dennis Demers hadn’t been to Thunder Road at all this season before Thursday night’s WDEV/WLBV/Calkins Portable Toilets trophy dash. The Shelburne racer scaled back to a part time racer a few years ago, but purchased a new car over the offseason. That car, however, scored a victory earlier in the season with son Trampas at the wheel.

Dennis’ first visit to Thunder Road did not disappoint in his new car as he claimed the 50-lap Late Model feature win.

Demers started the feature in the ninth position and quickly made his way into the top-five by lap 15. The No. 86 Shelburne Limestone Ford continued its charge toward the front, and resided in the third position on lap 25. The veteran continued his push toward the lead when he passed his son for second on lap 29 and made the race winning pass on lap 38.

“It’s so exciting; it’s hard to explain how hard to win here,” Demers said about his win. “I was all over the race track when I got here because I’ve never driven this car here. It was kind of a learning experience. But once I got racing, it kind of all came back. The car was so good. I won’t say it was easy, but it was a lot easier than some other wins that I’ve had here.”

Point leader Nick Sweet rocketed from his 13th starting position to finish second. Sweet appeared to have a car capable of challenging Demers’, but ran out of laps to catch him.

“Nick was coming,” Demers said. “It would have taken all the talent I have to hold him off, and it probably wouldn’t have been enough.”

Sweet was able to extend his point lead with his second place result and was satisfied with the result.

“I’ve very, very pleased with second,” Sweet, of Barre, said. “I hate finishing second, but finishing second today, coming from 13th in 50 laps, I think that is quite the feat here. (The car) was spot on today. I just ran out of time. I think I was closing on the 86 car very quick, but just not quick enough.”

Mike ‘Beattle’ Bailey used his pole starting position to finish in the third position. Bailey, of Barre, has had a tough season since he finished second on Father’s Day. Trampas, of South Burlington, finished fourth and Brooks Clark, of Fayston, finished fifth after getting around Phil Scott on the last lap.

Scott finished sixth, while Joey Becker, Chip Grenier, Eric Chase, and Cody Blake completed the unofficial top ten finishers. Dave Pembroke, the second place point man entering Thursday night’s events, finished 11th.

Randy Gonyaw started on the pole and led wire-to-wire to claim his first career Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman feature win.

“It’s been a long time coming,” the South Barre native said. “It’s taking me 20 years to get back here, and, by God, we did it.”

Chris Pelkey, also of South Barre, started second and was able to finish second, riding on the bumper of Gonyaw’s for the entirety of the 35-lap feature. David Finck, of Barre, started in the ninth position and was able to work his way into the third position when the checkered flag flew.

Rookie Jason Woodard of Waterbury Center claimed the fourth position while Williamstown’s Mike Ziter finished fifth. Scott Coburn, Bobby Therrien, Kyle Pembroke, Joe Steffen, and Tiger Heritage 100 winner John Lambert completed the top ten finishers.

Tommy ‘Thunder’ Smith claimed his division leading 24th win in the 25-lap Allen Lumber Street Stock feature. Smith, of Williamstown, claimed the lead on lap 14 after he passed then-leader Kevin Dodge on the outside. Smith brought Bunker Hodgdon along on the outside, with Hodgdon looking for multiple ways to get around the division veteran. Hodgdon, of Hardwick, finished on the bumper of Smith. Cameron Ouellette, of Barre, finished third.

Second place point man Dean Switser, Jr., finished fourth, one position ahead of point leader Nick Pilotte. The rookie Dodge, Dave Whitcomb, Garry Bashaw, Gary Mullen, and Billy Hennequin finished sixth through tenth, respectively.

Three Thursday night races remain on the season and the Late Model championship battle. Thunder Road hosts its annual Enduro and Street Stock special on Sunday, August 5. Thursday night racing resumes on August 9 for Run-What-Ya-Brung night.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — WDEV/WLVB/Calkins Portable Toilets Night
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Thursday, August 2, 2012

(# – denotes rookie)

ACT Late Models (50 laps)
1. Dennis Demers, Shelburne
2. Nick Sweet, Barre
3. Mike Bailey, South Barre
4. Trampas Demers, South Burlington
5. Brooks Clark, Fayston
6. Phil Scott, Berlin
7. Joey Becker, Jeffersonville
8. Chip Grenier, Graniteville
9. Eric Chase, Milton
10. Cody Blake, Barre

Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen (35 laps)
1. Randy Gonyaw, South Barre
2. Chris Pelkey, South Barre
3. David Finck, Barre
4. # Jason Woodard, Waterbury Center
5. Mike Ziter, Williamstown
6. Scott Coburn, Barre
7. Bobby Therrien, Hinesburg
8. Kyle Pembroke, Montpelier
9. Joe Steffen, Grand Isle
10. John Lambert, Northfield

Allen Lumber Street Stocks (25 laps)
1. Tommy Smith, Williamstown
2. Bunker Hodgdon, Hardwick
3. Cameron Ouellette, Barre
4. # Dean Switser, Jr., Lyndonville
5. Nick Pilotte, Jefferson, N.H.
6. # Kevin Dodge, Barre
7. Dave Whitcomb, Elmore
8. Garry Bashaw, Lincoln
9. Gary Mullen, Tunbridge
10. Billy Hennequin, Morrisville