The 38th running of the Vermont Governor’s Cup presented by VP Racing Racing Fuels at Thunder Road International Speedbowl was chalk full of great side by side racing, wild action and some insane pit strategy. When the checkered flag fell and the dust settled in Barre, it was two of the best Thunder Road late models standing 1-2. It was South Burlington native Trampas Demers, who was a pre race underdog, streaking past one of the two pre-race favorites and Hinesburg’s favorite son Bobby Therrien with less than 10 laps to go and held on to score his first career Governor’s Cup victory.
With a large crowd and a large car count showing up to the “Nation’s Site of Excitement ” on a very beautiful day, the ACT Type late models had 28 cars show up. The pre race favorites Bobby Therrien, the 2017 Memorial Day Classic winner and current Thunder Road late model points leader, was high on the time charts in all four practice sessions. Another pre race favorite the newly elected Governor of Vermont Phil Scott, who won his 30th career race last Thursday night, was also pretty high on the speed charts as he let everyone know that he’s missed some races this season, but he’s no slouch when it comes time to race. The 2015 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch had a rather “rough” day as the Nick Sweet prepared, Eric Chase’s Mad Dog Motorsports owned car was “only” fifth in the third practice and eighth overall.
The Thunder Road International Speedway has adopted the ACT style heat race format for their feature lineups. It’s a plus-minus system that tries to handicap the fast drivers by having them start in the rear or sometimes the front and it’s based on how many positions you gain or lose during the heat. Apparently, the plus/minus wasn’t in affect for the Governor’s Cup as each heat took the top 5 and sent the rest to a Consolation Race and it once again took the top 5 and where the car count was below the designated maximum number, the rest of the field was automatically set after the Consi.
2013 Sèrie ACT Champion Jean-Francois Dery used the middle lane on the newly repaved track to past Eric Chase to take down the win in heat one with Chase, Eric Bedore, Marcel Gravel & Chris Reindeau locked into the show. Phil Scott also used the second lane early on in the second heat to get by Ricky Roberts and easily win heat two with T. Demers, Roberts, Cody Blake and Darrell Morin rounded out the locked in finishers. 4-Time Autodrome St-Eustache track champion and ACT stalwart Jonathan Bouvrette battled side by side for the first few laps in heat three with Jason Corliss for the lead, with Bouvrette getting the eventual lead and the win with Bobby Therrien slipping by Corliss in the closing laps to take second, with defending Governor’s Cup winner Scott Dragon and Josh Demers closing out the top 15 drivers automatically locked into the 150-lap main event.
The Consolation or Consi race featured some of the top talent younger and older from the ACT and track. It had Shaun Fleury, Tyler Cahoon, Kyle Pembroke and Kyle Busch. With the race only 15 laps long and only taking 5 to the main, Busch had his work cut out for him as he started deep in the field, tenth out of twelve cars to be exact, he paced himself earlier on as there was a caution on lap 3 for a Ricky Roberts spin. Busch had worked his way up to sixth with a few laps left, after the team adjusted on the car in between the heat and consi, he could move up to the second and third lane and make some moves. He got around Jamie Fisher and finished fifth in the race and most importantly he was locked into the main.
A pair of champions in Scott Dragon and Jean-Francois Dery led the field of 26 cars to green. Dragon would jumped out to the lead, but it would be short lived as a caution on lap one for Shawn Fleury, Marcel Gravel and three others would crash in turn one. Dery and Dragon would have a whale of a battle for the lead for the first 24 laps, before a hard charging Trampas Demers would get around the two of them on a restart after a spin by Kyle Busch. T. Demers would lead the next eight laps, before dropping back in the pack and ride around. Jonathan Bouvrette would take control after T. Demers gave it up, with T. Demers in tow right in his tire tracks.
Dery would have some problems with his car and he started dropping back through the field and it would stacked them up, he would pulled to the top of the track in turns one and two and his night was done due to mechanical problems. On the following restart, the defending race winner Scott Dragon would pull even and a lap later would pull ahead of Bouvrette for the lead. Bouvrette would get a great run off of turn four and slide back by with third place driver Bobby Therrien trying to join and and take away the lead. 60 laps in with 90 to go, Therrien and the rest of the field would settle in for a long run.
The long run would be short lived, as a caution on lap 73 for Scott Coburn coming to a stop in turn two, as Bobby Therrien gave up his third position to come in and pit. After another short run, the yellow would fly on lap 98 for a spin by Jamie Fisher and which also sent the governor Phil Scott over the top of the turn one banking. Many of the leaders seen this as a opportunity and they pitted. A crazy sequence of events would see 4 cautions in 6 laps and see Kyle Busch’s night come to a end after he collected the wall on lap 115 which caused him spin and bring out the caution. The spin would cause Busch to pull into the pits and ending a pretty dismal race. Demers methodically worked his way back through the field and was running third when the 14th and final caution came out on lap 134 of the 150-lap event for Jean-Francois Dery’s stalled car in turn four.
On the final restart, Bobby Therrien got the jump over the leader Marcel Gravel, who pitted earlier on lap 73. T. Demers got around Gravel and followed closely in Therrien’s tire tracks. 6 laps later, Demers knew his car was fast anywhere he put it, so he jumped to the outside of Therrien for the 14th lead change of the race and it would prove to be the last lead change. Demers would stay just far enough ahead of the searcher Therrien to win his first career Governor’s Cup in doing so, he captured his eighth career victory in the late models at Thunder Road in the process.
Demers spoke highly of his car in victory lane “My car was great tonight, wherever I’d put it I was able to stay right there, other drivers could lean on me and try to push me around, I knew that I was going to get pushed up the track by Bobby (Therrien) in the corners, but I’d have the drive off to get down the straightaways and that was the key to victory tonight.”
“This track has come in to where there’s two and a half strong lanes,” explained Therrien. “I got him out to the edge of where the rubber is. I’m not going to push him outside of it. Those guys just had a really good car in the end.” Therrien was humble in defeat “My hat’s off to that team. They’ve earned it. To drive right around the outside, I used him up as much as I could, but they were able to drive right by me,” Therrien explained. “To finish second in this race is a huge deal because it’s a good points night for us and the car is in one piece and not many people can say that.”