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Therrien Dominates ACT Tour’s 45th Labor Day Classic

The 2017 “King of the Road” and 2019 Milk Bowl winner took the lead early and never looked back en route to his second Labor Day Classic win.

Rookie Kaiden Fisher and Marcel Gravel share the podium with Bobby Therrien, who dominated Sunday's ACT Tour Labor Day Classic presented by New England Federal Credit Union for his fifth career win. (Photo courtesy ACT/Alan Ward)

Thunder Road International Speedbowl is ostensibly the home venue for the American-Canadian Tour. But on Sunday afternoon, the home track stars outshined the visiting touring aces.

Bobby Therrien led a stout cast of Thunder Road characters to dominate Sunday’s 45th Labor Day Classic presented by New England Federal Credit Union.

Therrien ended a three-year dry spell on the ACT Tour, winning his fifth career Tour race and his second at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement.”

The “Bad Boy” of Hinesburg, Vt. spent part of the summer performing a good deed, fielding his car in weekly competition to score points for former “King of the Road” Phil Scott. Scott, the only state governor to win a stock car race while still in office, stepped back from his racing in July due to intense flooding throughout the state, with Therrien racing in his stead under a special arrangement with the speedway.

Therrien was at the wheel of his renumbered #14 Sunday afternoon, displacing fellow weekly racers Christopher Pelkey, Darrell Morin and Brandon Lanphear to take the lead on lap 38. Local expertise reigned early, while D.J. Shaw cracked the top ten to run as the best of the Tour regulars.

Shaw and chassismate Gabe Brown, though, could climb no higher through the field. While a tire change was on the table for the 200-lap tilt, Therrien elected to go the distance on his rubber while some of the Tour specialists took advantage of pit strategy.

But even on fresh tires, the road regulars struggled to make up ground, while Therrien put on a command performance out front.

Last a Tour winner in the 2020 edition of the Labor Day Classic, Therrien picked up his second Labor Day Classic trophy and earned another place on one of Thunder Road’s granite monuments.

Marcel Gravel came on strong in the second half of the race, but had nothing for the leaders. Gravel’s runner-up finish gives him two podium finishes in three ACT Tour starts this year, both at Thunder Road.

Fifteen-year-old rookie Kaiden Fisher improved on his spring appearance with a third-place finish, easily a career best for the quick neophyte.

Reigning “King of the Road” Christopher Pelkey finished fourth, while Tour rookie Tanner Woodard was best in class with a fifth-place finish.

Thunder Road veterans Cody Blake and Kyle Pembroke were sixth and seventh, with Oxford Plains Speedway winner Brown the second-best Tour regular in eighth. Spring winner and three-time Thunder Road champ Jason Corliss was ninth, while Shaw maintained his perfect top-ten record by a hair.

Two serious wrecks marred the day, with the first dealing a crushing blow to Derek Gluchacki’s fading title hopes. Contact with Jason Gammon in the final turn of their consi sent Gammon into the feared turn-four “Widowmaker,” flipping his car. Gluchacki tagged the wall and crossed the line in position to advance to the feature, but rear-clip damage to his car was too severe to repair before the green flag. After chipping away at Shaw’s ample points lead in recent weeks, the two-time winner was forced to pack up early. Gluchacki and Gammon were the only two in attendance not to take the green flag.

Jaden Perry was involved in the second big incident of the day, riding the frontstretch wall and catapulting into the turn-one berm at the pit entrance.

Therrien has enjoyed a quieter touring presence in recent years, but he has certainly made the most of it. After full-time ACT Tour schedules in 2013 and 2016, Therrien’s most active year has been a six-start effort in 2020. In that time, Therrien earned a 2017 track championship, scored a total of eight points to win the 2019 Vermont Milk Bowl, and picked up his fourth career ACT Tour win in 2020.

Quality over quantity has described Therrien’s runs the last few years, with Sunday’s race only his third touring start of the year.

Another Tour date at White Mountain Motorsports Park is booked in two weeks, but the Vermont Milk Bowl looms large at the end of the month, with a heavier touring presence expected for the signature event.

If Sunday was any indication, though, it could be a long day for the ACT Tour regulars.

Unofficial Results
American-Canadian Tour 45th Labor Day Classic presented by New England Federal Credit Union
Thunder Road International Speedbowl

1. (14VT) Bobby Therrien
2. (86VT) Marcel J. Gravel
3. (18VT) Kaiden Fisher
4. (64VT) Christopher Pelkey
5. (68NH) Tanner Woodard
6. (99VT) Cody Blake
7. (27VT) Kyle Pembroke
8. (60ME) Gabe Brown
9. (66VT) Jason Corliss
10. (04VT) D.J. Shaw
11. (77NH) Bryan Wall, Jr.
12. (68VT) Brooks Clark
13. (0VT) Scott Dragon
14. (94VT) Brendan Moodie
15. (16VT) Brandon Lanphear
16. (7VT) Cooper Bouchard
17. (36NH) Erick Sands
18. (00NH) Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
19. (17VT) Darrell Morin
20. (04NY) Justin Prescott
21. (55VT) Keegan Lamson
22. (41QC) Jonathan Bouvrette
23. (31KS) Cody Schoolcraft
24. (31CT) Andrew Molleur
25. (92VT) Jaden Perry
26. (12CT) P.J. Evans
27. (58VT) Jimmy Hebert
28. (78CT) Walter Sutcliffe
29. (01VT) Stephen Martin
30. (27NH) Cam Huntress
DNS (03MA) Derek Gluchacki
DNS (25ME) Jason Gammon

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Jeff Brown is a contributor to Short Track Scene. A native of New Hampshire and a long-time fan of New England racing, Brown provides a fan's perspective as he follows New England's regional Late Model touring series.

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