The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) took to Virginia’s Richmond Raceway for the first time on Friday, March 29 as part of Commonwealth Classic Practice Day. All 38 of the teams who entered Saturday’s event at the legendary track were in attendance to get their bearings and get up to speed before qualifying begins.
East Bridgewater, MA’s Ryan Kuhn emerged as the fast man out of the box and stayed that way. The 2018 Seekonk Speedway Late Model Champion paced the first of four practice sessions with a lap of 23.711 seconds. His effort would stand as the quickest lap of the day, with times getting slower overall as the track heated up in the Virginia sun. the 18-year-old Kuhn also topped the leaderboard in the final session.
Two other names familiar to ACT fans emerged as possible contenders throughout the day. Hudson, NH’s Joey Polewarcyzk Jr., the 2014 ACT Late Model Tour Champion, was fastest in the second practice of the day at 24.040 seconds. Multi-time ACT winner Jimmy Hebert of Williamstown, VT led the third session at 24.173 seconds.
Several drivers became familiar faces near the top of the charts as the day went on. Hinesburg, VT’s Bobby Therrien was regularly in the top-5 throughout the day, as was Dover, NH’s Wayne Helliwell. Top ACT Tour runner Rich Dubeau of Lebanon, NH was more than a second off the pace in the first session, but was up to second on the speed charts by the final practice. St-Denis, QC’s Patrick Laperle also gained speed throughout the day, going fourth-fastest in the final session.
Others may still have work to do in the Saturday morning practices. Barre, VT’s Nick Sweet was in the middle of the pack speed-wise throughout the day, but the 2016 ACT Champion told officials he was focusing on a good long-run setup. Big names such as Jonathan Bouvrette, John Donahue, and Nicholas Johnson are also looking to improve.
While multiple practice sessions were shortened due to incidents in other divisions, the ACT practices were relatively clean affairs. Just three spins were recorded during the day – two by Freeport, NY’s Gerard Giordano Jr. and one by New Bedford, MA’s Joshua Hedges. Neither driver sustained significant damage to their cars.
However, several drivers experienced mechanical failures on the ¾-mile oval. Graniteville, VT’s Christopher Pelkey blew an engine during the second practice session. The team missed the remainder of the day but has a new engine on the way for tomorrow’s event.
During the final practice, Hedges broke something in his car’s transmission, while Gilman, VT’s Jeff Marshall suffered a rear end failure. Hedges’ team had already replaced the transmission before they left the track. Marshall was reportedly searching for a replacement rear end at press time.
The practice day was a prelude to the inaugural Commonwealth Classic 65 on Saturday, March 30. The ACT Late Models will go 65 laps as part of a six-division card that also features two Pro All Stars Series Super Late Model events, Tour-type Modifieds, the Mid Atlantic Street Stock Series, and the North East Mini Stock Tour. Qualifying begins at 1:00pm. General admission is $40 for adults and free for kids age 12 and under. Tickets also include tunnel access for the infield Fan Zone and Garage Walkway areas.