Contributed by: ACT Staff
ACTion News – Wednesday, August 22, 2007
-by Justin St. Louis
The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) treated a packed White Mountain Motorsports Park grandstand to an exciting Kancamaugus 100 on Saturday night, and Milton, VT’s Scott Payea became the first repeat winner of the season in nine races. Payea started fifth in the race and was running in third place on lap 34 when he found himself avoiding the spinning car of leader Jean-Paul Cyr. Cyr and second-place driver Joey Polewarczyk had made contact, and Cyr’s spin brought out the yellow flag.
When both drivers were sent to the rear, Payea restarted the race at the point. He led for 26 laps before Turner, ME veteran Ben Rowe chased him down. Rowe, who earlier won a spirited duel with “Rocket” Roger Brown for second place, tried both the inside and outside lanes to pass Payea, and eventually got underneath the youngster on lap 61 to take over. Payea returned the favor after a lap 81 restart, though, taking the high groove around Rowe. As the two leaned on each other as Payea passed, Rowe’s right-front tire was cut and he retired from the race on lap 84.
Payea then survived the final restart on lap 91 to take his second ACT Late Model Tour win of 2007 and the second of his brief-but-stellar career. The former NAPA Tiger Sportsman and Allen Lumber Street Stock competitor made his Late Model debut in a handful of weekly events at White Mountain in 2004, and the win was extra-special for his family team.
“This is where I started racing my Late Model,” he said, “this is where I learned how to race these cars. To get a win here, and to have won at Thunder Road earlier this season, it means a lot to this team. To beat Ben Rowe on the outside is that much better, he’s one of the best there is.”
The 29-car field at White Mountain Motorsports Park was star-studded to say the least. In addition to the regular suspects like Cyr, Payea, Randy Potter, Brown, and Brian Hoar, big shots Robbie Crouch, Bobby Dragon, Brad Leighton, and Rowe also joined the show. Crouch made his first-ever ACT Late Model Tour start a good one, finishing in seventh place while fighting with a loose race car. Leighton finished 11th after starting 20th, Dragon was 17th.
Alexandre Gingras became the first three-time Série ACT Castrol winner in the PRO-FAB 100 at Québec’s Autodrome Chaudière on Friday night. In front of another, more northerly full house, Gingras edged Patrick Laperle by less than a car length for the victory, but the man of the night was “The Bullet” Yvon Bédard of St-Nicolas, QC.
Bédard is a veteran of nearly 30 years, and has been a long-time ACT supporter. Since his first ACT event in 1983, the affable Bédard has proven that nobody is willing to try harder to get the most of their equipment, even if that means the race ends early from a crash or a broken part. On Friday, the driver known for tossing chocolate chip cookies into the grandstands, courtesy of the Boulangerie St-Methode bakery, raced his way toward the front of the field, but was sent to the rear for spinning another car. After admitting his mistake (and how many drivers are willing to do that?), Bédard took his penalty and made the most of it. In fact, he made his way through the pack and into the lead! Gingras and Laperle passed The Bullet to take the top two positions, but Bédard found himself with his best career Série ACT Castrol finish in third place. His previous best – the only other Top 5 finish of his Série ACT Castrol career since the series began in 2005 – was a fourth-place run at Autordrome St-Eustache two years ago.
For the record, Bédard was the 1995 Québec QASCAR Sportsman champion and won a title the following season on the short-lived Série Pro-Car PROLAB in Québec.
Phil Scott took his first win of the Thunder Road campaign in a wild VT ACE Hardware Dealers show at Thunder Road last Thursday. The Sailing Senator rode the outside rail from 17th starting position to pass leader Marcel Gravel on the final corner of the 50-lap race, taking the 21st “weekly” feature win of his career.
David Chagnon looked sure to be carrying his first career checkers in the early going, but a lap 40 caution bunched the field. Chagnon had checked out on Gravel and Dwayne Lanphear, and led by as much as a full straightaway before the yellow flag. After the restart, though, it all went downhill for Chagnon. Gravel took the lead, then Chagnon was involved in a wreck with two laps to go. It wasn’t the result he’d hoped for, but the Colchester, VT underdog knew he had a good night.
“It was disappointing to finish the way we did,” said Chagnon, “but we finally figured the car out. We’ve been chasing the setup all year, and we finally got it right on Thursday. That win would have been nice, but we’ll try again another time, I guess.”
Point leader Jamie “Hurricane” Fisher had a scare that brought out the lap 40 caution. A part on the right-front corner of Fisher’s car broke in Turn 2, and he spun off the track. After pitting for quick repairs, however, the Shelburne, VT veteran drove from 22nd over the final 10 circuits to finish an incredible eighth.
Title contenders Dave Pembroke and Cris Michaud made up ground in qualifying, with each earning points in the heat races and semi-feature. Entering this Thursday’s Kinney Drugs event – the final Thursday night race of the season – Fisher, Pembroke, and Michaud are separated by a scant seven points at the top of the chart. The three-way battle is the closest in Thunder Road history with two championship races remaining (don’t forget the Fisher/Federated Auto Parts make-up race on Tuesday, August 28!).
Did you know…?
-Yvon “The Bullet” Bédard, started 114 ACT Pro Stock Tour events from 1983-1995. His best career finish was – like in the Série ACT Castrol – a third-place run, at Autodrome de Val-Bélair in the “Super Molson 200” way back in 1987. The winner that day was Robbie Crouch.
-In addition to Phil Scott’s VT ACE Hardware Dealers victory, a pair of Late Model drivers scored their best Thunder Road finishes of the season – Doug Murphy in 12th and Reno Gervais in 17th. Joining them were NAPA Sportsman racers David Finck (1st), Chris Gendreau (3rd), and Alex Perkins (5th), Allen Lumber Street Stockers Lloyd Blakely (1st), Josh LaCourse (6th), Markus Farnham (10th), and Scott Maynard (20th), and Power Shift Junkyard Warriors Del Jarvis (3rd), Bryan Nykiel (18th), and Travis Hull (21st).
-By crossing the finish line in fifth place at the ACT Late Model Tour Kancamaugus 100 at White Mountain on Saturday night, John Donahue became the 22nd driver to earn a top-five finish on the Tour in 2007. his previous best finish this season was 10th place at Airborne Speedway in May.
Hey, kids, it’s time for Thunder Road’s annual Poster Contest on Thursday at Kinney Drugs night! Trophies will be awarded in three age groups – 6 & under, 7-9, and 10-12. Artwork must be hand-drawn and may be made using paper, posterboard, construction paper, crayons, markers, pens, pencils, chalk, charcoal, paint… you name it!
Come have some fun with us on Thursday and help begin to close out the summer season, general admission is just $9 for adults, $3 for kids, and only $18 for a family of any two adults and two children. Gates open at 4:30pm, racing starts at 6:30pm. Don’t forget the Fisher/Federated Auto Parts event on Tuesady, August 28, and ACTion Super Series 29th Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 on Sunday, Sept. 2!