Contributed by: ACT Staff
ACTion News – Wednesday, September 5, 2007
-by Justin St. Louis
John Donahue spent all of Saturday’s practice sessions at Thunder Road switching back and forth between a Dale Shaw chassis he campaigns on the American-Canadian Tour, and a Lefthander car kept for Thursday nights at The Road. The Shaw car would start off well, then fade a tick, then pick back up. The Lefthander would do the same, but both cars were as fast on old tires as any car could be, and, according to Donahue, “very comfortable.” Late in the day, Donahue, team owner Kendall Roberts, the National Guard #26 team, and recently-added crew chief Jeff Laquerre collectively made the decision to race the Shaw car in Sunday’s 29th Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200, and to take a shot at the $6,000 ACTion Super Series winner’s purse.
On lap 94, Donahue and company started to look like geniuses. That’s when the Shaw car moved past polesitter and race leader Scott Payea for the third and final time, and began its march toward the victory.
“It was almost as if we couldn’t do anything wrong all day,” said Graniteville, VT veteran Donahue. “It was a flawless day.”
A flawless and lucrative day, that is. Totaling all bonuses and race purses, the man called “Irish” John Donahue walked out with just under $10,000 and his first career ACT Late Model Tour win.
Groveton, NH’s Randy Potter charged through the field after pitting for fresh right side tires late in the going for a second-place finish, passing ACT point leader Jean-Paul Cyr of Milton, VT in Thunder Road’s tricky high groove. Brent Dragon, winner of the Bond Auto Labor Day Classic in 2004, finished fourth. Turner, ME’s Ben Rowe finally found the handle he’d been searching for on the high-banked ¼-mile track, finishing fifth.
Brad Leighton, who tried to use the same strategy as Potter, but it just a bit too late in the race, finished sixth. At several points during the weekend, Leighton had the car to beat. Payea eventually faded to finish seventh ahead of Jamie Fisher and David Avery. Eddie MacDonald recovered from a spin out of fifth place on lap 135 to round out the Top 10.
The ACTion Super Series heads out west to beautiful Ontario for the Summer Sizzler 200 at Kawartha Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 15. Kawartha is a 4/10-mile oval with progressive, multi-groove banking in the corners and long, fast straightaways. The stock car track is part of the gorgeous Kawartha Downs & Speedway complex that includes a harness racing track, an award-winning restaurant, and a 24-hour casino. The visit is well worth the trip across the scenic Route 401, and the side-by-side racing at Kawartha Speedway has quickly become a talking point in Canadian auto racing circles.
NAPA Tiger Sportsman rookies looked to complete a 1-2-3-4 sweep at the Bond Auto Labor Day Classic on Sunday, but instead had to settle for “only” the top two positions. Shawn Sicard of Barre, VT and Kyle Tatro of Hyde Park, VT led veteran Mark “The Hammer” Barnier across the finish line. The two youngsters had earlier been joined by fellow rookies Eric Badore and Jimmy Hebert at the front of the pack. Hebert spun on a late restart, while Badore’s car fell back in the pack on the outside lane after Hebert’s spin.
Veteran racers Rick Garand and Trevor Lyman turned in impressive back-to-front runs, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively. Nick Sweet salvaged a tough day in traffic for a top-ten finish, and enjoys an 81-point lead over Craig Bushey entering the 44th Annual Chittenden Milk Bowl finale on Sat./Sun., Sept. 29/30. The maximum number of points available at a race event for the Sportsman class is 85, so Bushey has some work to do to steal the title.
The Allen Lumber Street Stock championship saga took on another twist at the Bond Auto Labor Day Classic, as top-two point drivers Lloyd Blakely and rookie Bobby Therrien were involved in a mid-race scuffle that eventually left Blakely with a wrecked race car. As the two diced through the pack on their way to the front, a slight, um… “lack of lane choice” by Billy Hennequin sent the point leaders careening into each other. Therrien was able to hang on, but Blakely spun and was collected hard by Tiffany Tucker and Justin Gordon. The result was major damage to the front of the Blakely machine and a 23rd-place finish, while Therrien marched ahead to finish fourth. Therrien now leads Blakely by a dozen points heading into the Chittenden Milk Bowl.
Power Shift Online Junkyard Warrior point leader Archie “Bunker” Hodgdon, III padded his point lead with a pair of fifth-place finishes on the weekend (the Warriors had main events on both Saturday and Sunday), while number-two man Jamie Davis could only muster an eighth on Saturday and a sixth on Sunday. Hodgdon leads Davis by 49 points. Scott Weston had a great weekend, picking up a win on Saturday and the runner-up trophy on Sunday. Full results for the weekend are available at www.acttour.com and www.thunderroadspeedbowl.com.
Did you know…?
-John Donahue became the second driver to earn his first career ACT Late Model Tour victory in an ACTion Super Series event at the 29th Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 on Sunday. London, ON driver D.J. Kennington won the first-ever Super Series race at Lee USA (NH) Speedway in his first-ever ACT start, back in September 2004.
-Thunder Road is up to 46 different feature winners this season (48 if you add ACT Tour winners Payea and Donahue), an impressive number by any standard. Of those drivers, 21 are first-time winners in their division (23 including Tour). Rookie drivers are responsible for 11 of those victories.
-Jean-Paul Cyr earned his ninth ACT Late Model Tour top-five finish of the season in ten starts. It was Cyr’s fourth ACTion Super Series top-five since the first event in 2004, which ties Patrick Laperle’s record for the most in the category. Brent Dragon scored his third ACTion Super Series top-five, which ties Roger Brown and Mark Lamberton for second all-time.
We’ve only got four races left, can you believe it? The ACTion Super Series Summer Sizzler 200 at Kawartha Speedway is first up on Sat., Sept. 15 with the ACT Late Model Tour in action. Autodrome St-Eustache hosts the Série ACT Castrol finale – the St-Eustache 300 – on Sat./Sun., Sept. 22/23, then the Super Series heads back to Thunder Road for the 44th Annual Chittenden Milk Bowl on Sat./Sun., Sept. 29/30. It all closes out with the New England Dodge Dealers 100 at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway on Sat., October 6. The summer just isn’t long enough…