Contributed by: ACT Staff
"Wow, that was fun! The car ran great," an enthusiastic Wood stated as he collected the winner's trophy. "I was a little concerned following practice with the improvements they made to the track. They took out the bumps in the first and fourth turns and I had to change how I drove through the corners a little. I was loose in four, but the car was perfect through the other corners which made up for it," he explained.
A pair of Vermont drivers, Craig Bushey of Cambridge, the 2002-2003 ACT Sportsman Series Champion was second and Jason Bonnett from St Albans was third. Milton, Vermont's John Hayes and Peru, New York's Skip Liberty completed the top five.
Wood lined up third on the grid but had the lead before the first lap was complete. From that point until the checkered flag flew, he did not relinquish the lead even though several drivers took aim at the top spot. Pole sitter Shawn Fleury, Liberty and Bucko Brnaham, Wood's uncle, all took turns chasing the leader, only to fall short. Several restarts due to minor caution periods failed to aid the challengers in their quest. Over the final 20 laps, Bushey lined up alongside Wood on three different restarts but found the outside groove lacking the traction necessary to make a pass.
Forty Sportsmen competitors from across the Northeast attempted to qualify for the 28 Spring Green starting positions. Among the notable competitors were a pair of cagy stock car racing veterans. The excitement generated by ACT's Sportsman Series and the opportunity to once again get behind the wheel was all it took to entice former Sportsman and Late Model champion, Chuck Beede out of retirement. Beede strapped in to his daughter Rachel's car for the Spring Green and will pilot her Thunderbird for the balance of the eight race schedule as well. The elder Beede made the the Spring Green field and wound up ninth.
Current ACT Late Model Tour driver, Joey Laquerre of East Montpelier, VT was all grins following the Spring Green practice sessions, "I'm here to have some fun," he said Saturday afternoon adding that he and his crew finished the car about 11:00 that morning after racing to 15th in the ACT Late Model Tour's Seacoast Challenge event Friday night at New Hampshire's Lee USA Speedway. Laquerre was still smiling after finishing 10th despite an off-track excursion thanks to another competitor. "These cars are fun to drive and the competition was great," he said.
"Obviously I felt confident opening the ACT Sportsman Series on my home track, just as the Thunder Road drivers will feel comfortable when the Series runs there in June," Wood stated while his car was being checked over in the post-race technical inspection. He continued, "Where things will really get interesting is when we go to the tracks in New Hampshire - Canaan, White Mountain and Lee USA. No one has much, if any experience on those tracks and it will come down to who can hit the right set-up for their car. I think all of us look forward to the challenge," he concluded.
The ACT Sportsman Series moves to the 1/3 mile Canaan Fair Speedway on Saturday (May 14) for a 100 lap event, the second on the eight race schedule. Post time is 6:00 pm.