Contributed by: ACT Staff
ACTion News – Wednesday, October 10, 2007
-by Justin St. Louis
Jean-Paul Cyr made himself an American-Canadian Tour legend a long time ago, winning races and championships and setting records in virtually every place he ran, but Saturday evening at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway, Cyr turned his status into “immortal” standing. The 41 year-old Milton, VT driver etched his name onto the ACT Champions Trophy for the seventh time at the conclusion of the New England Dodge Dealers 150 on Saturday, surpassing a record he shared with Brian Hoar for his fifth-straight championship, and moving ahead of all-time ACT King Robbie Crouch with his seventh overall crown.
Cyr won his previous titles in 1994, 1996, and each year since 2003. Fifteen of his 18 career victories have come in seasons where he won the ACT Late Model Tour Championship… but none of those wins came this year.
Those that know Cyr even as an occasional acquaintance are more than aware that his only motivation in 2008 will be to win as many races as he can. “Five-straight championships will mean a lot to me if we can pull it off,” he said entering the Oxford event, “but there’s one record I really want to build on, and that’s winning more races.”
As glaring as Cyr’s win-column goose egg may be, he should find some solace in his dominant record of consistency, and the fact that he still took home more trophies than anyone, finishing in either second or third place a total of seven times. His closest rivals in that category were Brent Dragon and young Joey “Pole” Polewarczyk, each with only four visits to the podium. Championship runner-up Scott Payea posted two race wins and a third-place finish in his trio of victory lane photo ops.
For the record, Hoar leads Cyr in the all-time win column for the ACT Late Model Tour, 23-18. At the beginning of the season, it would have been no easy task to find a journalist in the area – this writer included – that would have predicted that either of those win tally numbers stayed the same through the year. Now, at the risk of looking completely foolish, this writer will predict – just as before – that the win totals of both drivers will increase (maybe by one, maybe by ten?) by the time the leaves fall in 2008.
But now we all know how wise that prediction was the first time around.
Regardless, a hearty “Congratulations!” to Jean-Paul Cyr, car owner Rick Paya, and the entire Ehler’s RV/Sticks & Stuff #32 team on a stellar season. As any of the ten drivers that won an ACT Late Model Tour race in 2007 might tell you, the big reward is that trophy at the end of the year, and when a driver can stand on the stage as The Champion. If you look through the pages, it’s been a while since anyone other than Cyr has been able to do that around here.
That’s something to be proud of.
Add Travis Adams to the list of Oxford Plains Speedway regulars to have won an American-Canadian Tour race and the OPS track title in the same season. Adams, 30, of Canton, ME was the surprise winner (more on the “surprise” part in a minute) of the New England Dodge Dealers 150 on Saturday at the famed 3/8-mile oval, taking his seventh victory of the season at the track, and the first ACT win of his career.
Adams joins Shawn Martin (2004), Ricky Rolfe (2002), and Ryan Moore (2001) to have done the ACT win/OPS title double. Ironically (or maybe not), those four are the only Oxford regulars to have won ACT events. Granted, there is a little bit of wiggle room needed in that last sentence. Explanation: Eddie MacDonald was a semi-regular OPS driver in 2007 and won the ACT Time Warner Cable 100 in August, but was also a semi-regular with ACT and NASCAR Busch East as well and considers himself “just a race car driver,” so he falls into the “outlaw” category. Ben Rowe won an ACT show at Oxford last year, and used to be an OPS guy (in fact, he was the 1995 Oxford Late Model Champion), but he ran most of the ACT events in 2006, so he was, at least at the time, an “ACT guy.” Same goes for Dale Shaw in 2004.
Here’s where the surprise part of Adams’ victory came into play – Scott Dragon, one of ACT’s hard luck poster boys in 2007, was well on his way to the apparent win when the spun lapped car of Doug Coombs pulled onto the track directly in front of Dragon’s car with nine laps remaining. Dragon won the pole with a “+5” handicap in “plus/minus” heat race qualifying, led the main event on three occasions for a total of 105 laps, and had taken the lead back from Adams as the closing laps approached. With little time to react to Coombs’ spin and even littler room to avoid the crash, Dragon’s Harrison Concrete/Jeffords Steel Chevrolet wound up in a heap after slamming into Coombs’ Ford.
In likely the ultimate heartbreak of the entire season, Dragon was credited with 29th finishing position.
“I never wanted to win a race so bad in my life,” Dragon said on Monday. “It’s been a long time since we won, but we’re making some big changes to the car over the winter, other than rebuilding from the wreck, and we’ll be a lot better next year. ACT wins come hard, and it was a tough race at Oxford, but we know we did a good job and we’re going to try even harder next year.”
Dragon’s most recent ACT Late Model Tour victory came at Oxford Plains Speedway in August of 2003. He also has wins at Thunder Road in Barre, VT and the track now known as All-Star Speedway in Epping, NH.
Like we did in last week’s column, we’re going to give a tip of the hat to some drivers and teams that certainly deserve it:
A dominating victory at his home track of Circuit Ste-Croix aside, Donald Theetge drove his best race of the season to finish third at Oxford on Saturday. The former Série ACT Castrol Champion battled the entire race with Scott Dragon, Travis Adams, Brent Dragon, Roger Brown, Shawn Martin, and Ricky Rolfe, holding on for his first top-five finish since June’s Ste-Croix victory.
Alan Tardiff of Lyman, ME posted his first career ACT Late Model Tour top-ten finish with a seventh-place result in the Blow Bros., Inc. Waste/Best Way Disposal #88 Chevrolet.
Team owner Kendall Roberts had a great day at Oxford with both of his cars. Roberts’ regular driver, John Donahue of Graniteville, VT, won his consolation race, then drove from 21st to finish eighth in the main event, while Miss Tracie Bellerose of Gorham, NH won her qualifying heat and finished 10th in a one-off ride for the National Guard team.
Mark Childs, Jr. of Mechanic Falls, ME finished 25th in his ACT debut behind the wheel of the J&C Trucking & Excavating Ford. A 25th-place finish may seem a bit inauspicious until you look at the fact that Childs was in a Late Model car for only the second time in his life. The youngster was a regular competitor in the Wednesday night Oxford Acceleration Series in 2007, finishing third overall in the Runnin’ Rebel division – similar to Thunder Road’s Power Shift Junkyard Warriors. Talk about a jump!
Did you know…?
-Fourteen drivers posted or matched their best ACT Late Model Tour finishes of the season at Oxford. Travis Adams scored his first career ACT win, while Roger Brown took his third runner-up finish of the year. Top performers behind them were Shawn Martin (6th), Alan Tardiff (7th), and Tracie Bellerose (10th).
-In 1,850 green flag laps run this season for the ACT Late Model Tour, a total of only 71 caution flags were thrown – a lower-than-normal average of 5.4 per race. Highlights of the season included the 150-lap season opener at Oxford, which had only two yellows, the one-caution, 100-lap event at Circuit Ste-Croix in June (which ran the final 93 laps under green), and the caution-free August event at Oxford, which ran in less than 29 minutes.
-A total of 154 different drivers earned points in ACT Late Model Tour competition during the season, at an average of 41 cars attempting to qualify per event. High points throughout the year included fields of 40 or more cars in every month of the season, including stops at Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine (all three events), Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl in Vermont (all three events), White Mountain Motorsports Park in New Hampshire (in June), and Autodrome St-Eustache in Quebec (in July).
As always, keep track of the news and take a look at the great season that has just been completed at www.acttour.com, www.laserieactcastrol.com, and www.thunderroadspeedbowl.com. Thanks to all of our great fans, competitors, officials, sponsors, and media members for a great year!