Nick Sweet will go down in the history books as one of the best racers in the storied history of Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl (VT). But for much of his racing career, Sweet’s success consisted mostly of big wins at his hometown track. That all changed during the 2016 season as the driver from Barre, Vermont put on a performance regionally that earned him his first career American-Canadian Tour championship.
While one of his three ACT wins did come at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement,” wins at Devil’s Bowl Speedway (VT) and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME), the latter of which he outright dominated, combined with consistent finishes to earn him the 2016 crown.
“It feels good, quite an achievement, that’s the way to have it if you’re on the road and can win a championship,” Sweet told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “It was something that we set out at the beginning of the year to do and who would’ve thought that we would end up winning it. We strived to do it, but we just went into it trying to go racing and have some fun. Before we knew it, we were in a point battle racing for a championship. Quite the feat for us.”
This is the first year that Sweet and the No. 40 Eric Chase team had planned a full schedule on the Tour, but only if they could stay in title hunt.
“It was tentative, if we fell out of the point battle then no we don’t run the whole season. But we stayed in the point battle all year so we kept racing.”
While there were many moments to remember in the year, Sweet’s favorite was the season finale at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT). While it is where he celebrated the title, he will remember it most as finally getting to race at the 5/8 mile “Big T”, and being able to enjoy the full splendor of the track’s famous Sunoco World Series.
“There was a lot of good moments this season, the last race of the year we didn’t do very well at Thompson, we finished fifth which wasn’t bad, but we weren’t a contender. But that whole trip that weekend was just a lot of fun, we made it a weekend trip, and made you wish it wasn’t over.”
The moment that turned the season around for Sweet was his win in the season’s third race at Thunder Road. After placing 11th in the first two races at Oxford (ME) and Lee (NH), victory at home lit a fire under the team which lasted all through the year.
“It’s always good to race at home,” he said. “In the beginning of the year we weren’t even getting top tens, to go from that to turning it all around at Thunder Road was pretty nice.”
2016 was also a very stout year for Sweet in track points as well, narrowly missing out on taking his second track title which was won by Scott Dragon. In addition to his two points wins, Sweet collected his third win in the Vermont Milk Bowl.
“We were fortunate, came up one point short in the championship, but it was a really good season. The weekly racing is real tough, there’s good cars every week with full fields, it is really tough.”
For the time being Sweet has no plans for 2017, electing to wait for the release of the 2017 ACT schedule. For now he plans to work hard maintaining cars in the shop and enjoy his title to the fullest.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com