ACTion News 11/28/07

ACTion News – Wednesday, November 28, 2007
-by Justin St. Louis

Early reaction to the 2008 American-Canadian Tour schedule has been very positive, giving an indication that there may be even more full-time title chasers next year.  A dozen teams gave it the old college try this year, with another nine attempting to qualify for more than half of the 13 races.

A totally revamped schedule and championship points format will allow more of those teams that “just missed” full-time competition to enter the title hunt – a driver’s or owner’s best 10 results during the 12-race campaign in 2008 will be counted toward the ACT championship standings, thereby allowing teams to “drop” their two worst outings.  That includes races that drivers fail to qualify for or even fail to attempt qualifying for.

One of the 2007 full-timers, 18 year-old Joey “Pole” Polewarczyk of Hudson, NH, thinks it’s a good system.

“I like it a lot, I think it will work out well for just about everyone,” he said.  “Every driver has that one track that they don’t like that much, or at least don’t have very good luck at.  For me this past year, it was Thunder Road.  I love racing there, but everything seemed to wrong for us there all year, even in the Thursday night races we ran that weren’t Tour races.  Being able to get rid of two bad races is going to help a lot of teams.”

One of Joey Pole’s full-time competitors, fellow Granite State driver Randy Potter, agrees.  Potter cited the unknown factors of racing at tracks he’s not very familiar with as an advantage for the “drop” system to be in place.

“I’ve only been to Lee (USA Speedway, NH) once, and I’ve never been to Waterford (Speedbowl, CT), so the drop could come in handy for me at those tracks,” he explained.  “To be honest, it would have been nice for me to have that option this year.  That green-to-checkers race at Oxford, I was toast.  There weren’t any cautions, and we never got a chance to pit and change the setup.  It was our worst finish of the year, and it hurt us in the standings.”

The potential for a regular “weekly racer” to turn some strong home-track runs into a Top 10 title bid is very good.  Cris Michaud, a three-time Thunder Road Champion, has been selective in his Tour racing over the last few years, but says that the new format could eventually change his mind.

“I’m not committing to the Tour right now, but it’s certainly looking like more and more of a possibility than it had been for my team in the past few years,” said Michaud.  “We only have one car and a pretty tight budget, but four of the Tour shows are at Thunder Road, so those races are no-brainers for the Thursday night drivers.”

While explaining why he liked the changes to the Tour schedule, Michaud almost sounded as if he was trying to convince himself that running the full season would be pretty easy while juggling a fourth try at the “King of the Road” crown.

“I like Oxford (his best 2007 Tour finish, by the way, was at the Maine oval in April, 6th place), and I’ve won at Lee before, so we would probably go to most of those shows,” he said.  “That’s eight total.  I’ve been kicking myself about not going to Kawartha, so I think we’ll head out there, that’s nine, and White Mountain is close by, so that’s our ten races if we wanted to do it.  Airborne and Waterford are the only ones left, and Airborne isn’t far from home at all.  It’s a pretty good deal, I think.”

Michaud went even further into it.

“Looking at it, half of the Tour schedule will be done by the time Thursday night races start at Thunder Road, and July and August are pretty much wide open to relax.  Really, if you’re a Thursday night racer and you want to run the Tour, you only need to double-up a race weekend two or three times during the year to have a real shot at the full schedule.  It’s a very interesting position to be in.”

Michaud, you’ll recall, was an ACT Late Model Tour championship threat big-time in 2001, winning a pair of races and finishing a very close third in the standings.  Potter and Polewarczyk aren’t exactly slouches, either; each driver was a first-time ACT winner in 2007, and finished the year fourth and seventh, respectively, in points.


How was your “Black Friday,” the traditionally crazy holiday shopping day-after-Thanksgiving?  Didn’t find what you were looking for?  Try giving the gift any race fan will love: A 2008 Thunder Road Season Pass!

Season passes are available at the Thunder Road/ACT Office in Waterbury, VT, or by phone at (802) 244-6963, Monday-Thursday, 8am-5pm during our winter hours.  Adult general admission passes are $190, and include all stock car events at “The Nation’s Site of Excitement” for 2008.  Child general admission passes are only $50.

Say you’re looking for the ultimate gift?  Try a Gold season pass, good for a reserved seat at all 18 stock car races in ’08.  The Gold pass is $250 – a bargain when it comes time for the Chittenden Milk Bowl and the grandstands are packed… just walk right in and sit down in your own gold-star seat!


Chew on this: If the new Tour point system for 2008 was in place in 2007, 12 of the top 17 drivers would have finished in different positions.  While Jean-Paul Cyr would still have been the champion over Scott Payea and Brent Dragon, like it was in real life, Cyr’s margin victory over Payea would have been trimmed from 95 points to just 38, and Dragon would have been just 80 behind, rather than 134.

Roger Brown, dropping a key missed event at Kawartha Speedway and a dismal 24th at White Mountain Motorsports Park, would have finished fourth instead of fifth behind Randy Potter.  Brian Hoar and Joey Pole would have swapped the 6th and 7th spots, too.

The biggest movers would have been Scott Dragon and John Donahue, each gaining two positions.  Dragon would have vaulted from 12th to finish 10th, benefiting big time from dropping missed events at Circuit Ste-Croix and Seekonk Speedway.  Donahue, who missed races at Autodrome St-Eustache and Kawartha, would have jumped from 14th to 12th.

As exciting as it is for the drivers that move up, there is the potential for a down side, as well.  The biggest losers in this scenario would be Eric Chase and Jamie Aube, each falling three positions – Chase from 11th to 14th, Aube from 13th into a 16th-place tie with Ryan Vanasse.

As big a stats geek as this writer is, we haven’t yet figured out how the points would have changed in previous years.  Chances are good that we will eventually hunker down and get to it, but it may take a little while.


Did you know…?

-Second-generation star Brent Dragon has the most career ACT Late Model Tour qualifying heat victories with 32 since the series’ inception in 1992.  Even during his days a part-time competitor in the mid-1990s, Dragon was usually able to rip off at least one heat win during the season.  The two exceptions were 1995, and again in 1998.  Brent at least had a good excuse for 1998 – he didn’t race any ACT events!  Pete Fecteau is second on the all-time list with 25 heat wins, followed by Jean-Paul Cyr at 24, and Brian Hoar and Phil Scott at 22 apiece.

-Hoar holds the record for most heat wins in a single season, with six in 1998.  In fact, they came in consecutive events (also a record) at Canaan Fair Speedway, Thunder Road, both halves of an Autodrome St-Félicien doubleheader, Sanair Super Speedway, and White Mountain Motorsports Park.  Dave Pembroke (2005), Joey Laquerre (’04), and Dwayne Lanphear (’00) have each enjoyed five heat wins in a single year.

-Do you remember the bonus points Semi-Feature?  The Tour held semis in 1992-93 and again from 1998-2002.  Fecteau is the all-time win leader with eight, including a single-season record four during his 2001 ACT Late Model Tour Championship season.  Lanphear and Steve Miller each copped five semi wins, while Cyr has four to his credit.  With three wins, Rick Thompson, Jr. has the most semi-feature tallies without ever winning a main event.  He is tied at three with Mark Barnier and Tracie Bellerose.

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