BARRE, VT - Veteran stock car driver Dave Whitcomb of Essex Junction earned his 20th career Late Model victory at Barre's Thunder Road in the NAPA Auto Parts/Make-A-Wish 50-lap event on Thursday night. Whitcomb charged around David Chagnon of Colchester to take the lead on lap 40, then sped to the win. Jamie Fisher of Shelburne followed Whitcomb around Chagnon two laps later to finish in second place. Chagnon, who set a career-high mark in third place one week ago, equaled his best finish by completing the podium.
The NAPA/Make-A-Wish feature was the final 2008 "King of the Road" championship event for the Late Model division. Three drivers, leader Eric Williams of Hyde Park, and tied-for-second drivers Cris Michaud of Northfield and Phil Scott of Montpelier entered the night just 16 points apart for the title.Scott did his part by finishing second in his qualifying heat race to transfer into the bonus-points Semi-Feature, then finished second again. His total gain was seven points on Williams. Entering the NAPA/Make-A-Wish 50, Williams led Scott by nine points and Michaud by 17. All three drivers, after battling in heavy traffic, made their way into the top ten. Williams spun just after the yellow flag was displayed on lap 32, but was given his running position back by race control as he was not part of the original incident that caused the caution period. On lap 46, Scott was leading Williams by one point for the championship, but Williams' late pass of Mike Bailey and then Tony Andrews sealed a seventh-place finish in the race and locked up the title, his first. "These last two weeks have been quite a whirlwind for me," said Williams, who finished in the top ten in all but one of his 13 Thunder Road starts this year. "We ran the (American-Canadian) Tour race at White Mountain and we thought we might have made a mistake by taking a gamble, but we won and it panned out. Then we ran two features here last week, spun out tonight, and then came back and got the title. Plus, there have been a lot of news people, cameras, interviews... that's a lot for a country boy like me. I'm happy to have won the title, now I just want to enjoy it."
Scott finished fourth in the race and fell just three points shy of Williams in the final tally, 897-894, unofficially. Michaud finished fifth in the race and third in the championship, with 884 points. John Donahue of Graniteville finished sixth in the race ahead of Williams. Rookie Tony Andrews of Middlebury, Robbie Crouch of Tampa, FL, and 2007 "King of the Road" Dave Pembroke of Middlesex completed the top ten race order.
Rookies split twin 30-lap NAPA Tiger Sportsman division features, as Mike Ziter of Williamstown won the make-up Calkins Portables/WDEV Radio feature for the NAPA Tiger Sportsman division to begin the evening, and Hinesburg's Bobby Therrien closed out the night with the NAPA/Make-A-Wish feature win. The Calkins/WDEV race had previously been rained out on July 31. Ziter started seventh and moved past Dan Reed of Essex to take the lead with ten circuits remaining. Reed, a veteran of nearly 20 years, finished a career-best second place. Tim Potter of Plainfield finished third, unofficially, ahead of Bradford's Derrick O'Donnell and Pete Ainsworth of Middlesex.
Josh Demers of Middlesex, another rookie, finished as the runner-up behind Therrien in the nightcap. Joe Steffen of Essex Junction, Craig Bushey of Cambridge, and Jimmy Hebert of Williamstown completed the top five.
Tim Campbell of West Topsham stole the Allen Lumber Street Stock division victory from East Haven's Michael Moore at the finish line. Moore was the leader as the checkered flag flew on lap 25, but slowed just before the finish line to avoid a three- car crash, allowing Campbell to sneak through for the win. Erik Steel of Barre came from 17th starting position to finish third over Wolcott driver Steve Mandigo and East Barre's Jared Henry.
Power Shift Online Junkyard Warrior driver Justin Prescott of Williston earned his first career victory in just his fifth start. Prescott dominated the 15-lap race over Moretown's Jeff Martin, Jr., Mark LaFleche of Graniteville, Ken Christman of Cabot, and Josh Vilbrin of Northfield.
Jamie Davis and the Warrior division team won the Calkins/WDEV "Port-A-Potty Grand Prix," taking the highly sought-after Golden Seat trophy. Craig Bushey's Tiger Sportsman potty won the Golden Plunger for best appearing potty.
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