Contributed by: ACT Staff
ACTion News – Wednesday, April 30, 2008
-by Justin St. Louis
Average car count at American-Canadian Tour Late Model stock car events in 2008: 51. In both races completed thus far, fields of 52 and 50 cars showed up to qualify at Lee USA Speedway and Oxford Plains Speedway, respectively, for starting grids of 30 and 33 cars. Simply amazing.
And those 50-some cars aren’t clunkers, either – maybe you’ve heard of young gun Joey Polewarczyk or Oxford star Ricky Rolfe? Brent Dragon, J.R. Baril, Scott Payea, anyone? Maybe Eddie MacDonald, Patrick Laperle, Ben Rowe, Brad Leighton, or some guy named Jean-Paul Cyr? It’s a good time to be a Late Model fan in New England, especially if you like variety and close action.
Another pretty cool number: 6. Six, as in the number of yellow flags over a combined period of 250 laps on two mean race tracks. Not only is the action close, it’s clean and professional. That’s not to say there aren’t some jabs traded – John Donahue’s already been backwards more times than he probably wanted to be this year – but the drivers have put on some good, hard-nosed racing without cheating the fans or each other out of a good run.
Cyr, Dragon, MacDonald, and young Ryan Nolin’s drives up the outside lane in the New England Dodge Dealers 150 at Oxford last Saturday were incredibly exciting, and Cyr’s seven-lap duel for the win with Rolfe was the perfect capper to a race full of passing and battles for position.
Yes, it is a good time to be a Late Model fan.
This week, the thunder rolls through the Green Mountains again, as “The Nation’s Site of Excitement,” Barre, VT’s Thunder Road, fires up its 49th season. The 10th Annual Merchants Bank 150 will be the lid-lifter for the 1/4-mile bullring, as well as the third round of the ACT Late Model Tour.
The Merchants Bank 150 weekend is fun all the way around, with the annual car show, pit stop contest, and parade from downtown Barre City up to the race track, followed by practice on Saturday, May 3, then the “Class Day” opening ceremonies and green flag action on Sunday, May 4. It all starts at 9:00am on Saturday, 1:00pm on Sunday.
A practice session was held for all four Thunder Road divisions last Thursday afternoon, and was looked upon as a success by most of the teams in attendance. Very unofficially, Donahue, multi-time champions Phil Scott and Robbie Crouch, and rookie Matt White turned in the fastest Late Model practice times. Also turning some good laps were Trampas Demers, David Chagnon, rookie Tony Andrews, defending “King of the Road” Dave Pembroke, and Shawn Fleury.
The NAPA Tiger Sportsman class had a big turnout, led (again, unofficially… our stopwatch didn’t get everyone, and wasn’t running during every practice) by Shawn Sicard and Tommy Therrien. Others with very good times were Brian Delphia, Craig Bushey, rookie Bobby Therrien, and youngster Derrick O’Donnell.
The Allen Lumber Street Stocks are going to have a fun time catching Tommy Thunder and Ron Gabaree this year, based on what we saw. Thunder (his real last name is Smith, but nobody cares about that) and Gabaree were visibly the fastest two on the track in the early rounds, no matter what lane they chose. By the end of the day, though, Justin Gordon and “Dancin’” David Allen had basically closed the gap.
The Power Shift Online Junkyard Warriors weren’t really led by anyone, but there were plenty of folks having fun out there, including Neal Foster, Mike Gay, Dale Bickford, and Chad Brown.
Did you know…?
-Of the 47 drivers to have started an ACT Late Model Tour race so far in 2008, only one driver has finished a race where he started. Ricky Rolfe won last weekend’s New England Dodge Dealers 150 from the pole position, but not without a fight from Jean-Paul Cyr. Everyone else in both races either improved or fell from their starting position.
-Cris Michaud, Brent Dragon, Patrick Laperle, and Eddie MacDonald each have a pair Top 10 finishes to their credit already. MacDonald is the only driver to have finished each race inside the Top 5. He was second at Lee USA and fourth at Oxford Plains.
-Lee USA winner Joey Polewarczyk had as bad a day at Oxford as his was good at Lee. But, despite finishing 18th at OPS, he still retains the point lead by just one point over Michaud. Oxford winner Rolfe sits tied with fellow Maine racer Dale Verrill in 23rd place, the result of not having run the Lee USA opener.
Comments and questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, and always keep an eye on the websites – www.acttour.com and www.thunderroadspeedbowl.com. We’ll see you at the 10th Annual Merchants Bank 150 this weekend!