ACT
VANASSE HOPES MOMENTUM & HOME TRACK ADVANTAGE PAY OFF AT SEEKONK
Following a fifth place finish in last Saturday night's Maine-ly Action Sports 100 at Maine's legendary Oxford Plains Speedway, Ryan Vanasse and his team feel that they have the momentum going in their favor. The Warwick, RI resident and the rest of the ACT crowd head for Seekonk (MA) Speedway for their annual appearance at the Cement Palace on Saturday night (August 5).

The momentum coming out of theOxford event, combined with the fact that 24 year-old driver and crew served their apprenticeship at the 1/3 mile slightly banked paved oval before moving to ACT’s touring series two years ago, has to give them the feeling they know the track layout better than their peers on the American Canadian Tour.

According to crew chief Mike Vanasse, Ryan’s brother, "We have a good shot at doing really well at Seekonk because it's our home court. At Oxford last weekend we did a lot of things right and made some adjustments for the weather. Ryan won his heat and that really made us feel good. It lead us to believe that we were capable of winning that race. We started fourth due to the strong
qualifying effort, but somehow it all got away from us. However, considering the fact that over ten teams didn't make the feature, we did pretty good."

Going into this Saturday night's ACT event at the Route 6 oval, the Vanasse Team sits 13th in the overall ACT point standings. Another strong finish could move them up in the standings. "All we need now is some luck this time," added brother Mike from his business and race team office at Team V Transport.

Vanasse and company may know the nuances of Seekonk Speedway, but they’ll have to be concerned about the historically consistent performance records of the top five drivers in the ACT point standings. Jean Paul Cyr of Milton, VT leads the tally over Mark Lamberton of Mooers Forks, NY, Dave Pembroke of Montpelier, VT and two other Milton, VT speedsters Brent Dragon and Scott Payea.

While Cyr has never won at Seekonk, he was on track in 2004 for the win. While leading late in the race, a brake part failed which forced the multi-time ACT Champion to tender-foot his way around the track. Young gun Steve Fisher took advantage of the situation and nipped Cyr on the final circuit for his first career win. In three previous starts the Milton driver has a pair of sunner-up outings and a seventh.

Second generation racer, Dragon is the defending winner of the Bay State 100, a track he has come to enjoy racing on, “There’s plenty of room to pass if you hit the right set-up,” he commented. It looks like we’re going to have a hot day which could also play in to the picture,” he stated. Dragon’s finishes in 2004 and 2003 were both sixths.

Of the other top five point drivers, Lamberton, who sits second to Cyr by 66 points, has only been to the Massachusetts track once and that was in 2003. While the former Airborne Raceway Late Model Champion tends to prefer longer short tracks, he apparently liked Seekonk. He finished third. Payea, the 2005 ACT Late Model Rookie of the Year has a lone appearance at the Cement Palace. He finished 16th.

Other drivers to keep an eye on include Turner, Maine’s Ben Rowe, former ACT Tour Champion, Phil Scott, AJ Begin from Merrimac, MA, and Jamie Fisher, a past Late Model Champ from Barre, Vermont’s Thunder Road. Rowe has hit victory lane three times on the ACT circuit this season. Scott, from Montpelier, VT, Begin and Fisher have all posted top ten finishes at the seacoast speedplant.

Adding to the interest level are the track’s weekly Late Model competitors. With Seekonk’s Late Models scheduled to be off, the phone at the Waterbury, VT based ACT office has been ringing continually with questions from Seekonk racers who are interested in attempting to qualify for the Bay State 100. In past years several of the local racers have joined ACT’s Touring drivers in races that proved to be highly competitive. Among the drivers who’ve expressed interest are former track champion Gerry DeGasparre Jr, Matt Hudon, Glenn Lawton, Stephen Potter, Robert Hussey and Matt Dusenberry, among others.

Dusenberry, from Marblehead, MA is excited about the opportunity the ACT race presents, “It’s a great event, another line on my (racing) resume. The (Seekonk) Late Models usually run 25-lap features and this will be 100 – that’s like four Saturday night’s of experience I’ll be gaining at one time.” Dusenberry, who’s been racing for some six years, is a student at High Point (NC) University.

The ACT competitors and their Seekonk counterparts will have two stand-alone practice sessions to figure out the track. The first is slated for 1:00 – 2:00 pm, while the second will take place from 5:00 – 5:30. Post time for the Bay State 100 is 6:00 pm.

PHOTO 1: Ryan Vanasse
PHOTO 2: Defending Tour Champion Jean-Paul Cyr
PHOTO 3: Brent Dragon
PHOTO 4: Ben Rowe
PHOTO 5: Matt Dusenberry