Contributed by: ACT Staff
ACTion News – Wednesday, April 14, 2008
-by Justin St. Louis
The 2008 American-Canadian Tour Championship season opens this Sunday at Lee USA Speedway with the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 200 – the first of two doubleheader events for the ACT Late Model Tour and the open-wheel True Value Modified Racing Series this year. Thirty-six official entries have been received at the ACT office to date, and as many as 50 total Late Model teams are expected to try their hand.
The early favorites include a trio of Milton, VT hotshoes – seven-time ACT Champion Jean-Paul Cyr, perennial contender Brent Dragon, and rising star Scott Payea – New Hampshire’s own Randy Potter and young Joey “Pole” Polewarczyk, Jr., Canadian champions Patrick Laperle and Donald Theetge, and home-track icons J.R. Baril, Eddie MacDonald, Jeff Labrecque, Jr., Jeremy Harclerode, and former-track-champion-turned-ACT-rookie Ricky Wolf, Jr.
Post time is at 1:00pm on Sunday, with a full day of practice on Saturday, from 8am-5pm. Lee USA Speedway management has also recently announced that despite the gas crunch, front gate admission prices have been slashed for the 2008 season – The New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 200 is just $20 for adults, $10 for kids 11-15, and free for kids 10 and under.
New England’s two biggest short track tours, 200 green flag laps, and the official end of winter, all for a bargain price – you won’t find a better deal this spring. For details, check out the Lee USA website at www.leeusaspeedway.com or the ACT website at www.acttour.com.
If you’re a die-hard reader of the Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl website (www.thunderroadspeedbowl.com), you’ll remember that a few weeks ago we tried to recreate the drama of the short-lived 1965 modified division campaign at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement.” In seven events where the “ground pounders” squared off against the local flathead coupe drivers, not once was the home crowd able to carry the checkered flag. That stung the Thunder Road faithful quite a bit.
Ascutney, VT brothers Dwight and Peter Jarvis were heralded as the new drivers for the Green Mountain natives to root for, and the folks up on Bud Hill certainly wouldn’t have been misguided in choosing either driver: Dwight was the 2006 True Value Modified Racing Series Champion and has a stunning 18 track titles to his credit, while younger brother Peter was a feature winner in his one and only start at Thunder Road.
That was a few weeks ago.
Enter Jean-Paul Cyr, the reigning ACT king. Cyr has taken on the role of pulling double-duty at Thunder Road’s Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic on Sunday, May 25, driving both his familiar #32 ACT ride as well as an open-wheeled True Value modified. Cyr tested a car owned by Gary Casella at Waterford (CT) Speedbowl a couple weekends ago, and decided that he would rather enjoy knocking the modified invaders off their perch in his home state, and finally – finally! – be the first Vermont native to actually win a modified race in Vermont.
Cyr was a part-timer with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in the late 1990s, and was impressive at places like New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Richmond Int’l Raceway, Jennerstown Speedway, and the road course at Watkins Glen. He’ll get his feet wet with the True Value tour at Lee USA Speedway this weekend. He’ll also prepare himself for running two 100-lap contests in two vastly different types of race car on the same day.
“It took a few laps to get used to driving the modified again,” Cyr said after Waterford, “but when I came in the pits I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.”
Casella’s car is a strong one, having had recent success at Maine’s Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and the 5/8-mile Thompson Int’l Speedway in Connecticut.
Cyr is confident in his chances. “I want to have fun,” he said, “but I also want to give those guys some competition and go for the win.”
Tune in this weekend at Lee and a month later at Thunder Road.
Welcome back to one of ACT’s longest-running contingency program sponsors, Five Star RaceCar Bodies of Twin Lakes, WI. Five Star will give product certificates to the winners and 12th-place finishers at each ACT Late Model Tour and Série ACT Castrol event in 2008, and will up their program another notch by giving away three “Package A” ABC-approved Late Model bodies at the Tour, Castrol and Thunder Road year-end championship banquets and a “Package A” Sportsman body to a NAPA Tiger Sportsman racer at Thunder Road. Programs like that are hard to come by, and are vocally appreciated by the racers. So our thanks to Five Star, it’s good to have you back again!
Did you know…?
-Of the five drivers to have won ACT Late Model Tour events at Lee USA Speedway, Jean-Paul Cyr (who else?) leads with a finishing average of 4.8. (Since D.J. Kennington (’04) and Ben Rowe (’06) won in their only ACT starts at Lee USA, we won’t use their finishing averages.) Cyr is the only one among the five winners to have started all five events. In addition to his September 2005 victory, he has finished fourth twice, and seventh and eighth once each. Patrick Laperle won in 2003 and has a pair of sevenths for an average finish of 5.0. May 2005 winner Cris Michaud has a third, a ninth, and a 15th for a 7.0 average.
-Three of the five ACT events at Lee USA Speedway have been won from the pole position. The very first “plus/minus” handicap race was run at Lee in September 2004. Kennington passed nine cars in his heat race to earn an event-high “+9” handicap, and drove off with the win. Cyr and Rowe each won their Lee events after a “+4” pole starting spot. Eddie MacDonald earned the pole in May 2005 with a “+6” but crashed out of contention on lap 81, finishing 20th. Incidentally, Pete Fecteau was the 2003 polesitter under the old qualifying system. He finished third in the race.
-Speaking of the “plus/minus” qualifying format, the highest-ever “plus” earned was a “+15” by Patrick Laperle at Sanair Super Speedway in July 2006. Roger Brown ranks second with a “+10” at Thunder Road’s Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 in 2005, followed by Kennington’s “+9” at Lee.
Comments and questions? Send ‘em to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll see you at the races this weekend!