Barre, VT – The 2011 Thunder Road stock car season will see three divisional track champions enter the Rookie of the Year running at the next level. While the champions will lead the way, the majority of the rookie class will be made up of new faces at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement.”

“The 2011 rookie class is shaping up with a lot of new drivers, which is a different from seasons past. Normally we see a lot more movement through the divisions, but this season the new faces will add a new dynamic,” said Thunder Road Promoter Tom Curley. “It’s always exciting watching new drivers develop.”

The Late Model division, which has seen an influx of new competition during the off season, will welcome 2009 Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman Champion Jimmy Hebert into the rookie ranks. The Williamstown driver finished sixth in the 2010 Tiger standings. After the Milk Bowl last October, he purchased a Late Model from car owner Pete Duto and has set his sights on the 2011 Late Model Rookie of the Year. He will have to fend off Jim “Boomer” Morris of Berlin, VT who will step behind the wheel of a stock car for the first time.

2010 Allen Lumber Street Stock Champion Mike MacAskill is an early favorite for the Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen Rookie Title this season. The 21 year-old from Williamstown, VT earned three wins and led the Street Stock division with 14 top tens in 17 starts on his way to the title last year. It was just his third season in the division.

MacAskill will have to battle with newcomers Dylan Payea of Henniker, NH as well as Kyle Pembroke of Montpelier, VT. Payea will be making his first career start in the Tiger division on Merchants Bank weekend, while Pembroke was impressive in his three starts during the 2010 season, which included a heat win.

Cabot, VT’s Ken Christman has joined the Allen Lumber Street Stock ranks after his 2010 Junkyard Warrior Championship. Christman set a record for most wins in a season at Thunder Road with a dominating 12 wins in 18 starts.

Christman will be joined by Warrior runner-up finisher Kevin Dodge of Barre, VT. Both Dodge and Christman were competitive with the Street Stocks last season even while running their Warriors in the combined feature events. They will be joined by Keith Lord of Groton, VT, Cameron Ouellette of Barre, VT, and Danny Emerson of East Ryegate, VT in the rookie standings.

The rookie battles begin this Sunday, May 1 with the 13th annual Merchants Bank 150 at Barre, VT’s Thunder Road. Class day activities are scheduled to start at 1:00pm. The rookies will show off their new rides at the downtown Barre car show beginning at 9:00am on Saturday, April 30 before the parade up Quarry Hill at 12noon.