History Making: Joey Doiron Wins Inaugural PASS Race At Thunder Road

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Joey Doiron celebrates victory Sunday at Thunder Road International Speedbowl

Joey Doiron celebrates victory Sunday at Thunder Road International Speedbowl

BARRE, Vt. — For a race that promised to be nothing short of a bare-knuckle brawl, the inaugural PASS North Series race at Thunder Road International Speedbowl turned into something that more resembled a fine ballet of finesse than a heavyweight bout. About the hardest anything was hit was when leader Joey Doiron brushed the frontstretch wall just a few laps from the checkered flag.

But Doiron made the rest of the day look easy — and made history in the process — by winning the PASS 150 Sunday afternoon in the first Super Late Model race on the high-banked quarter-mile in 21 years. He held off part-time series competitor Jeremy Davis of Tamworth, N.H., for the victory.

Doiron, of Berwick, Maine, led the final 58 laps for the sixth PASS victory of his career. The history-making performance was not lost on the former PASS and ACT Late Model Tour Rookie of the Year.

“When we started racing PASS (in 2010), I never thought I’d have the opportunity to come back here and race,” said Doiron, who started on the pole and led twice in all for 73 laps. “They say Thunder Road is one of the hardest places in the country to race at, and I couldn’t agree more.”

D.J. Shaw of Center Conway, N.H., finished third. Bobby Therrien and Brian Hoar, drivers familiar with Thunder Road from their ACT backgrounds, rounded out the top five.

The last driver to win a Super Late Model race at Thunder Road was Ontario’s Dave Whitlock in 1994 — when Doiron was just two years old. On Sunday, Doiron looked like a grizzled veteran, saving tires during the midpoint of the race before turning up the wick when it was time to seal the deal over the final circuits.

The only wrinkle in Doiron’s plan came when he had his encounter with the wall.

“I was just thinking the whole time, I can’t be that guy who loses the race with five to go because he drives off the track or drives into the wall (while leading),” Doiron said. “I hit that wall on the frontstretch with seven or eight laps left, and all I was thinking was, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to lose this race.’ I wasn’t going to be able to face my crew guys if I lost at Thunder Road.

“Thankfully, we were in position to win and were able to seal the deal.”

One can’t fault Doiron for fearing the worst. He inherited the lead on lap 43 when he was chasing Wayne Helliwell Jr. — watching Helliwell dip his tires over the edge of the asphalt on the backstretch. Helliwell slowed enough to let both Doiron and Davis by.

Helliwell faded to finish ninth.

The race saw its only three caution periods occur before lap 42, all for relatively minor incidents. Early contenders such as Johnny Clark, Glen Luce, Cassius Clark and Joey Polewarczyk — all of whom started in the front half of the field — either out of the race or a lap down at the checkered flag.

It wasn’t attrition or the intimidating frontstretch wall that took its toll. Instead, it was a long 108-lap green flag stretch that seemed to throw teams and their tire management a giant curveball.

“I think people used a lot more caution off (turn) four than I expected. They knew the circumstance, and they were aware of it,” Shaw said. “We kind of fell off at the end, and I don’t really know if it was the track or what… I thought we were going away pretty bad at the end with the right front, and after talking to (Doiron and Davis), Joey said he thought he’d used it up too much, too.

“Tire conservation was key today.”

Mike Rowe, Travis Benjamin, Dave Pembroke, Helliwell and Ben Rowe finished sixth through 10th, respectively.

“It’s a big deal,” Doiron said of winning at Thunder Road. “I was one of those guys that thought this race going to be a bloodbath.”


  1. Frankie Tree says

    Everyone in Sport 4 at seekonk got DQ’d there was no winner . Way to start season at the Konk !!
    Guess there’s no one there who’s smart enough to fig out a winner will not Bo well with the entrants . They don’t pay and they pay to race and fill the stands so they can make money. I thinks it time to take a hard look at there new inspector !!!!

  2. Frankie T what does your comment have to do with the ACT race and the article above? Do you have a vendetta against Seekonk? I have been to Seekonk many many times for regular, holiday, and other special shows and found the place well run, clean, and with excellent crowds. I would understand your comments if the article was focused on Seekonk but its not. Maybe I missed your point.

  3. Frankie Tree says

    Larry on a better note l love racing there . If you read Facebook it’s so funny .

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