Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, VT will enter their 55th season of stock car racing with the 16th annual Merchants Bank 150 on Saturday and Sunday, April 26 and 27. The stars and cars from the American Canadian Tour Championship Series (ACT) will tackle both the high banks of the famous Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl, and one of the largest fields of regular Thunder Road Late Model racers in recent memory. The Merchants Bank event has been the season opener at the 1Ž4-mile speedbowl since 1999.
Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. (Pole) from Hudson, NH is looking for his first win in a Merchants Bank opener. When asked why Thunder Road is so tough, the 2014 ACT title contender said, "I love racing at Thunder Road and I hate racing at Thunder Road. It's been good to me and frustrating for me. Man, you earn everything you get every lap at that place. First, you have to race the track, which is high-banked, narrow, two grooves and pretty wild. Then you have to take on what is probably the largest and best group of weekly racers in the country, along with the Tour regulars. I have won some big shows (Governor's Cup 150 in 2009 and the People's United Bank Milk Bowl in 2010), but I've always wanted to win the Merchants Bank opening race. It would give our team tremendous momentum toward our goal of winning the ACT title this year," concluded Pole.
A stacked field of potential winners will be on hand for the opening weekend at Thunder Road. Brian Hoar is an eight-time ACT Champion and former Thunder Road Champion from Williston, VT. Hoar will look for his third consecutive Merchants Bank win. Coming off a disappointing finish at Lee USA in the ACT opener on April 13, Hoar joins two-time Thunder Road Champion (2010, 2012) Nick Sweet of Barre, also a back-to-back winner (2010, 2011) in the Merchants Bank race.
Williamstown, VT's Jimmy Hebert is the 2009 Tiger Division Champion at Thunder Road, and a Rookie of the Year on the ACT in 2012. The Hebert Excavation team had a red hot beginning in 2013. Starting the event dead last in the 2014 Lee USA Governor's Cup 150, Hebert drove to an impressive 6th place finish with only three cautions that tightened the pack throughout the event. Hebert has to be considered a contender at the Merchants Bank race coming back to his home track.
The large field of Tour regulars will face other former Thunder Road Champions including: Phil Scott, David Pembroke, Jamie Fisher, Dave Whitcomb and Derrick O'Donnell. In all, over 40 teams are expected to enter the 55th opening of Thunder Road.
The ACT Merchants Bank 150 season opener at Thunder Road in Barre, VT will mark its 55th year of stock car racing with the annual Barre Car Show in downtown Barre on Saturday, April 26. A full afternoon of practice will follow after the popular race car parade from downtown up Quarry Hill to the race track. Sunday will open with the traditional Class Day celebration with all cars on parade beginning at 1:00pm. Qualifying for the 16th annual Merchants Bank 150 will begin at 1:30 on Sunday, April 27.