Contributed by: ACT Staff
There are a host of competitors who'd love to prevent Cyr from attaining Crouch's milestone. Among them are last year's championship runner-up, Dave Pembroke, perennial front runner, Brent Dragon, sophomore racer, Scott Payea, and 2002 ACT Champion, Phil Scott, to name a few.
Thirty-four year-old Pembroke, from Middlesex, VT is the defending winner of the Merchants Bank 150. His experience on Thunder Road's high banks places him on the short list for the season opening checkers along with car owner David Storey. His impressive finishing average last season labels him as a contender once again.
Second generation racer Dragon, 40, has several Late Model track titles to his name. He would like nothing more than to share championship honors with his legendary father, Beaver (1979-1980 champion). With his experienced crew returning for the coming season the multi-time bridesmaid is likely in the best position of his career to best his life-long friend and Milton, VT neighbor.
The surprise of the 2005 season was freshman competitor Scott Payea who finished fourth in the final points tally. From the initial race of the year at New Hampshire's Lee USA Speedway, where he finished third, to the last, Thunder Road's New England Dodge Milk Bowl, where he was fourth, the youngster turned in performances that belied his 23 years. With several new sponsors on board and a healthy war chest, the sophomore driver should be a force to be reckoned with.
Phil Scott knows what it takes to win a Championship. In fact, the Montpelier, VT resident not only has several Thunder Road Late Model "King of the Road" titles, but he also was victorious on the 2002 ACT Late Model Tour. Returning to full-time Tour competition in 2005 after a couple of years of part time action, Scott quickly regained his groove. It's only a matter of time before he's back in the Winner's Circle and giving Cyr a run for his money.
Another who could threaten for the title is Patrick Laperle, a 30 year-old hot shoe who won twice in the last three races of 2005. The St-Denis, Qc driver has committed to a full run with ACT and has spent time during the off-season honing his skills on Florida's short tracks.
Former ACT Tour Rookie of the Year, Roger Brown from Lancaster, NH has a new car in line for 2006 and if it's anything like last year's ride, it should be a rocket ship. The "Rocket" was turning in an impressive performance in last year's Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200, leading by some 15-20 car lengths until another driver's misjudgement knocked him out of the lead. The 26 year-old driver's bravado will surely keep him in the hunt.
Others who could act as spoilers to Cyr's title bid include several of Thunder Road's weekly competitors - multi-time champion, Cris Michaud, Trampas Demers, Chad Wheeler, and Eric Williams, among others. Also, ACT Tour regulars, Jamie Fisher, Dave Whitcomb, Joey Laquerre, Mark Lamberton, Rich Lowrey, as well as others, could be factors as could Tour new comers AJ Begin, Mike Collins, Bobby Baillargeon, and Walter Sutcliffe, to name a few.
Jean-Paul Cyr begins his quest for his sixth ACT Tour Championship at 1:30pm on Sunday, April 30 as the lone two-time winner of the Merchants Bank 150 season opening event.