Turner, Maine’s Ben Rowe redeemed himself Saturday night before his hometown fans by winning the American-Canadian Tour’s (ACT) New England Dodge Dealers 150 at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway. Vermont drivers, Phil Scott from Middlesex was second and Shelburne’s Jamie Fisher was third. Completing the top five were Roger Brown from Lancaster, NH and another local favorite, Shawn Martin, also from Turner.

Three weeks ago, when the Tour stopped at the Pine Tree State speedplant for the Maine-ly Action Sports 100, Rowe was in the midst of a three-race win steak with the traveling Late Model Series, the longest in some 20 years. A victory before a huge crowd at the track where he cut his racing teeth would be a nice notch on his belt. But it was not to be.

Saturday night, it almost wasn’t, again for the second generation competitor. While Rowe was the winner, the race truly belonged to Doug Coombs from Livermore, ME, who turned in a stellar performance.
Scott, a former ACT Tour Champion started on the pole and set a brisk pace. He was chased by Martin, the Maine-ly Action Sports 100 winner for most of the first 83 laps he led. Coombs, who started seventh in the 32 car field, worked his way into contention by powering up the outside rail in his Ford.

Coombs overtook Scott for the lead by using a lapped car as a “pick”. He held the advantage through the first of three caution periods, which came out on the 97th circuit for Mark Anzalone’s spun car. The 17 year-old rookie was able to rejoin the field.

The brisk pace set by the frontrunners forced them to carefully maneuver their way through lapped traffic. A miscue by a slower car could spell disaster for the leaders. It was this very scenario which allowed Rowe to take the lead.

The second restart of the 150-lap race came on the 128th circuit for a minor backstretch incident involving Dale Verrill and Jay Laquerre. Coombs maintained the advantage when the green flew but Rowe was able to work the lapped cars to his advantage and got by Coombs. Scott, who had been lurking in the top five since losing the lead to Coombs earlier in the race, stole second.

Following the yellow flag, Coombs’ car did not return to form after it had cooled off. Conversely, the Rowe and Scott machines seemed to handle the tempo change fairly well. But then, Coombs’ car came back into its own and he again began to march toward the front as the final laps tickets off.

With six laps to go, Coombs passed Scott for the runner-up spot. But the veteran wasn’t satisfied with that would have been the best ACT Tour finish of his career – he had to try for the win. Like he did earlier in the event, Coombs pulled his car to the outside and went after Rowe. On the 147th lap, the Ford pulled alongside Rowe’s Chevrolet as they exited the third turn. It looked like Coombs had the momentum for the pass, but just as it happed three weeks ago in the Maine-ly Action Sports 100, Coombs’ car broke loose and slid off the turn. This time he was able to recover, stay on the lead lap, and finished 13th.

Finishing sixth was Steve Reny from Boothbay, ME, while Milton, Vermont’s Brent Dragon was seventh. Rounding out the top ten was Joey Polewarczyk from Hudson, NH, in eighth, current ACT Tour point leader, Jean-Paul Cyr and 2005 Rookie of the Year, Scott Payea, both from Milton, VT

Thirteen of the 27 cars running at the end of the New England Dodge 150 were still on the lead lap when the checkers flew in a race that took just over 52 minutes to run. The New England Dodge Dealers 150 was the ninth ACT Tour race held at Oxford’s 3/8ths mile oval and first at the longer distance. In the previous eight races, the ACT Tour drivers had won four and Oxford driver, four. While Rowe is officially an ACT Tour “contract” driver, his status as a favored son of the race track means that his victory can’t truly be credited to one group of the other. The “rubber match” between the local competitors and the outlaws will need to be contested in 2007.

The ACT competitors are back in action for their 10th race of the 2006 season on Sat/Sun, Sept 2-3 at Barre, Vermont’s Thunder Road. The Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 is the second of three $10,000 to win ACTion Super Series races. Post time on Sunday (Sept 3) is 1:00 pm.

RACE #9 - New England DODGE Dealer's 150
Oxford Plains Speedway - August 19, 2006

1. (2), Ben Rowe, Turner, ME, Dodge Charger, 150, Running
2. (1), Phil Scott, Middlesex, VT, Ford Fusion, 150, Running
3. (17), Jamie Fisher, Shelburne, VT, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 150, Running
4. (6), Roger Brown II, Lancaster, NH, Ford Fusion, 150, Running
5. (3), Shawn Martin, Turner, ME, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 150, Running
6. (15), Steve Reny, Boothbay, ME, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 150, Running
7. (16), Brent Dragon, Milton, VT, Dodge Charger, 150, Running
8. (8), Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Hudson, NH, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 150, Running
9. (4), Jean Paul Cyr, Milton, VT, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 150, Running
10. (10), Scott Payea, Milton, VT, Ford Fusion, 150, Running
11. (14), Ron Henry, New Gloucester, ME, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 150, Running
12. (13), Mark Lamberton, Mooers Forks, NY, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 150, Running
13. (7), Doug Coombs, Livermore, ME, Ford Taurus, 150, Running
14. (29), Dave Pembroke, Montpelier, VT, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 149, Running
15. (22), Joey Laquerre, E. Montpelier, VT, Pontiac Grand Prix, 149, Running
16. (24), Tom Watson, Jr., Harpswell, ME, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 149, Running
17. (12), Ryan Vanasse, Warwick, RI, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 149, Running
18. (26), Steve Fisher, Shelburne, VT, Dodge Charger, 149, Running
19. (21), Katie Hagar, Damariscotta, ME, Dodge Charger, 149, Running
20. (18), A.J. Begin, Merrimac, MA, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 149, Running
21. (11), Jon Brill, Bridgeton, ME, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 148, Running
22. (23), Dan Colby, Lyman, NH, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 148, Running
23. (5), Dale Verrill, So. Paris, ME, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 148, Running
24. (31), Gary Chiasson, Peru, ME, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 148, Running
25. (9), Frank Snow, Bridgeton, ME, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 148, Running
26. (30), Mark Anzalone Jr., Malden, MA, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 148, Running
27. (20), Jay Laquerre, E. Montpelier, VT, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 126, Wreck
28. (32), Bryan Kruczek, New Market, NH, Ford Fusion, 71, Running
29. (28), Bobby Baillargeon, Nottingham, NH, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 67, Handling
30. (19), Dennis Spencer, Jr., Norway, ME, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 52, Handling
31. (27), Greg Peters, Westbrook, ME, Chevrolet, 72, Handling
32 . (25). James Linardy,Malden, MA, Chevrolet, 35, Handling