Jerry Lesage Gets First Career Checkers At Thunder Road; Roger Brown Top Tiger
Barre, VT - -
Thirty-five year-old veteran Jerry Lesage of Winooski withstood a late charge fro Phil Scott and won the Casella Waste Systems Late Model feature by half a car length Thursday night at Thunder Road. It was career win number one for Lesage, who began his career as a Northern NASCAR competitor at Catamount Stadium in 1985. "They were telling me on the radio, you're okay, you're okay," said an elated Lesage, "and then all of a sudden I had a mirror full of the 14 car (Scott). I knew he'd run me clean and I wanted to protect the bottom, but I opened up the door in turn two on the last lap."
Scott made a strong bid underneath Lesage's Alpine Sprinkler Chevrolet, but stopped short of full-blown contact. "If it was the Milk Bowl, maybe I go a little deeper, but it would have been the wrong move tonight," said Scott. Pete Fecteau was a near-by third. Cris Michaud passed Jim Cilley on the outside in the closing laps for fourth. Lesage started third on the field and took early command.
"We changed three shocks at the last minute and it worked," said Lesage. The win was also his first top-5 finish in an ACT Late Model. Chris Fisher and John Donahue ran 1, 2 in the semi-feature. Cooper MacRitchie, Jim Cilley and Mike Perdue won their heats.
"Rocket" Roger Brown of Lancaster, NH, combined a fast car with a dose of good luck to win the 30-lap NAPA Flying Tiger feature with runner-up Joe Steffen glued to his bumper. No sooner had Brown surrendered the lead to Kris Grout and Eric Pembroke and fallen to fourth behind David Redmond when Redmond fell off the pace and the leaders collided, brought out another yellow, and were sent to the rear. Travis Calkins benefited to finish third, ahead of Reno Gervais 4th, and Chip Grenier 5th. Gervais and Grenier ended the night tied for first in the point standings. Ray Stearns also had a strong run go for naught after banging for the same piece of real estate with Doug Murphy and spinning out of contention on lap 22.
In the early going, the Flying Tiger contest was two races in one. Pole sitter Kris Grout and Brown raced a few feet apart for the lead a dozen car lengths ahead of the pack, which was led by a tense three-car battle between Redmond, Trevor Lyman and Eric Pembroke. Pembroke, perhaps the quickest car on the track, was up to third when a restart, following rookie Adam Pierson's slide off turn three, bunched the field back together. Pembroke was soon to take over second place in the low lane and then set sail for Grout.
"My left rear tire was going down and I had a handful after the last restart," said Brown. "The race was kind of handed to me, but we'll take it. I could see Steffen coming at the end and told myself to hold the bottom," Brown continued. "I figured he would get me if there were a couple of more laps. Sometimes the best car doesn't win. Luck has a lot to do with it."
The Allen Lumber Street Stocks also turned in a rousing finish that saw leader Jen Bigelow bounce off a lapped car and hurtle into the fourth turn wall while Willy Hennequin sped by for the win. The red flag was out for Bigelow, who uninjured, crossed the finish in 17th on top of Ryan Nolin's car. Ralph Carroll, Nathan Spaulding, Renee Beede and Roger Hutchinson survived to finish 2, 3, 4 and 5.
It was Hennequin's first career win. He had led from the outset until he got pinned behind a lapped car and surrendered the lead to Bigelow with three laps to go.
Thunder Road reverts to its normal summer schedule post time of 7 pm for next Thursday's Green Mountain Office Machines program that includes Kids Poster Night.
Casella 40-Lap Late Model Feature
1.. #74 Jerry Lesage, Winooski (3)
2.. #14 Phil Scott, Middlesex (10)
3.. #75 Pete Fecteau, Morrisville (11)
4.. #6 Cris Michaud, Northfield (19)
5.. #68 Jim Cilley, Groton (1)
6.. #44 Dave Pembroke, Montpelier (17)
7.. #26 Bill Donahue, Barre (2)
8.. #31 Derek Ming, Island Pond (15)
9.. #2 Tracie Bellerose, Gorham, NH (21)
10.. #17 Taber Gagne, St Albans (7)
11.. #27 John Donahue, Graniteville (20)
12.. #7 Eric Williams, Hyde Park (18)
13.. #1 Todd Stone, Middlebury (6)
14.. #10 Jeff Spooner, Newbury (14)
15.. #8 Rich Lowrey, Charlotte (8)
16.. #15 Joey Laquerre, E Montpelier (13)
17.. #18 Jamie Fisher, Shelburne (16)
18.. #72 Jacob McGrath, Mendon (24)
19.. #85 Trampas Demers, Shelburne (23)
20.. #16 Dave Wilcox, Enosburg (9)
21.. #3 Cooper MacRitchie, Williamstown (12)
22.. #07 Sam Caron, Colchester (26)
23.. #9 Victor Johnson, Troy, NH (25)
24.. #43 Mike Perdue, Barre (4)
25.. #30 Chris Fisher, Shelburne (22)
26.. #25 Dave Whitcomb, Essex (5)