The 2009 version of the American Canadian Tour will show fans a major change from recent years. You would have to go all the way back to 2000, and the end of the Brian Hoar era, to find an ACT champion running for the 2009 title. Hoar will be looking for his sixth (6th) ACT title while driving for veteran car owner and crew chief Rick Paya. Paya helped lead all time ACT champion Jean Paul Cyr to seven championships, and knocked off 5 in a row between 2003 and 2007. Canadian star Patrick Laperle took home the honors in 2008. Laperle was the first Canadian ever to win an ACT Late Model crown. Laperle also won the ACT SERIE Castrol championship in his home province of Quebec in 2007. Neither Cyr nor Laperle will contend for the 2009 ACT Championship, which presents a ‘wild west - winner take all’ opportunity for many veterans and skilled young teams to challenge for the title in 2009.
Without question the coming season presents the greatest mix of veteran teams looking for their first titles, with a crop of young talent that is eager for their own breakout. Veteran Dave Whitcomb of Essex, Jct., VT will rejoin the TOUR in 2009 trying for his second ACT championship. Whitcomb won the original Late Model title in 1992, and has been a mainstay at Thunder Road weekly racing, winning the King of the Road title in 1995.
Joining Whitcomb are veterans Brent Dragon, form Milton, VT and Randy Potter from Groveton, New Hampshire. Dragon and Potter are early favorites to take their first ACT TOUR titles. Both have multiple weekly track championships to their credit. Dragon is a perennial favorite at Airborne Raceway in New York, and Potter has numerous wins at White Mountain Motorsports Park and put on a dominating performance opening day in 2007 at the Oxford Plains Speedway.
The top of the standings will likely see the two biggest rising stars at ACT, Scott Payea of Milton, VT who missed out on winning the 2008 ACT title by a single point, after leading the standing for the majority of the season. Payea and his Chris Companion led team know how to win and have extra incentive to take the honors in 2009. Payea has shown strength at Thunder Road, (a two time Merchants Bank 150 opening day winner), and at Oxford Plains Speedway with several top three trips around Maine’s tricky 4/10th mile oval. Joey Polewarczyk (Pole) was a two-time winner in 2008, and certainly has every incentive to win the ACT championship before moving on to other levels of racing in his career. Joey Pole, at 19 years old, now has the experience and talent to compete against the veterans, and to use the ACT title as a stepping-stone to other racing opportunities.
Other contenders that plan to compete for the title in 2009 include veteran John Donahue from Graniteville, VT, Thunder Road Champion and long time veteran campaigner Jamie Fisher will pilot the SD Ireland Chevrolet again in hopes of taking his first title. These two competitors are the only full time touring teams that compete weekly at Thunder Road and full time on the TOUR. If the old adage that practice makes perfect, both Donahue and Fisher should be favorites to contend for the ACT title in 2009.
The list of full time -first time entrants is longer than any other year in the history of ACT. Along with first timer Rolfe will be Jeff Zuidema, veteran driver from N. Brookfield, Massachusetts, Miles Chipman from New Hampshire, Mark Hayward, from Unity, New Hampshire.
Other teams that have filed full season entries include Tyler Cahoon (VT), Matt White (VT), Jimmy Linardy (MA), Eric Chase (VT), Ben Rowe (ME), Pete Potvin III (VT), Chip Grenier (VT) and Mark Hudson (MA).
Following the Lee USA Speedway opener, the American-Canadian Tour travels to Thunder Road on Sunday, May 03, for the 11th Annual Merchants Bank 150 and the 50th opening of the ‘nations site of excitement’. For more information, call (802) 244-6963 or visit www.acttour.com.