Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Saturday night was a historic one at Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford, as 25 Sportsman Modifieds competed at the track in the 40-lap season finale, the largest field of Modifieds to ever race at the track.
Now, we realize that the number 25 might not be a headline-maker at a lot of tracks in our region, but consider this: one year ago, a "big" field of cars at Bear Ridge was eight. And, realistically, anything more than a dozen Modified-sized cars at the tiny clay oval nestled up in the woods of the Connecticut River Valley tends to make things a bit crowded.
Chris Donnelly (#17) of Piermont, N.H. was on his game as usual, taking his sixth victory of the season, and Gary Siemons (#5) of Orford, N.H. finished second to wrap up his third-straight track championship. Despite eight caution periods, the racing was entertaining, and the "outsiders" -- mostly from Canaan and Devil's Bowl speedways -- did well for themselves, with Middlebury youngster Justin Comes finishing in fourth place.
(Video by Justin St. Louis/VMM)
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Official Starting Lineup for 47th Milk Bowl, Sunday, Sept. 27
Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
1. Nick Sweet, Barre
2. Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, N.H.
3. Brent Dragon, Milton
4. Dave Pembroke, Middlesex
5. John Donahue, Graniteville
6. Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier
7. Eric Williams, Hyde Park
8. Jamie Fisher, Shelburne
9. Chip Grenier, Graniteville
10. Joey Doiron, Berwick, Me.
11. Phil Scott, Montpelier
12. Scott Payea, Milton
13. Cris Michaud, Northfield
14. Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton
15. Brad Leighton, Center Harbor, N.H.
16. Tyler Cahoon, St. Johnsbury
17. Rich Lowrey, Charlotte
18. Mike Bailey, South Barre
19. Brian Hoar, Williston
20. Glen Luce, Turner, Me.
21. Pete Potvin, III, Graniteville
22. Matt White, Northfield
23. Mike Olsen, North Haverhill, N.H.
24. Tony Andrews, Northfield
25. Quinny Welch, Lancaster, N.H.
26. Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Dracut, Mass.
27. Dave Whitcomb, Essex Junction
28. Mark Hayward, Unity, N.H.
29. Joey Becker, Jeffersonville
30. Eric Chase, Milton
Stay tuned Sunday morning for notice of postponement due to inclement weather. Official announcement expected at 8:00am.
Best single lap time shown
88 Nick Sweet - 13.110
97 Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. - 13.164
55vt Brent Dragon - 13.192
44 Dave Pembroke - 13.204
37 Brian Hoar - 13.218
15vt Joey Laquerre - 13.228
9vt Chip Grenier - 13.258
26vt John Donahue - 13.265
7me Glen Luce - 13.272
41 Pete Potvin, III - 13.276
42 Matt White - 13.278
18 Jamie Fisher - 13.279
32 Mike Olsen - 13.292
6 Cris Michaud - 13.306
8vt Rich Lowrey - 13.309
89 Scott Payea - 13.310
1 Tony Andrews - 13.327
11vt Jean-Paul Cyr - 13.333
55nh Brad Leighton - 13.370
16 Joey Becker - 13.373
14vt Phil Scott - 13.392
85 Trampas Demers - 13.400
7vt Eric Williams - 13.414
77nh Mark Hayward - 13.435
00 Mike Bailey - 13.436
24 Steve Fisher - 13.439
82 Bobby Baillargeon - 13.440
22vt Kyle Caron - 13.453
73me Joey Doiron - 13.454
05 Craig Bushey - 13.461
68 Brooks Clark - 13.464
27nh Wayne Helliwell, Jr. - 13.477
4 Doug Murphy - 13.485
25 Dave Whitcomb - 13.488
78nh Quinny Welch - 13.505
66 A.J. Begin - 13.509
5vt Bob Ailes, Sr. - 13.509
38vt Tyler Cahoon - 13.512
10nh Jeff Taylor - 13.529
31on Spencer MacPherson - 13.552
42ma Jeff Zuidema - 13.552
81 Grant Folsom - 13.542
7pq Daniel Bergeron - 13.558
75 Pete Fecteau - 13.568
71 Bobby Dragon - 13.571
76 Travis Fadden - 13.577
72 Dave Paya - 13.627
8nh Rick Thompson, Jr. - 13.627
34 Dylan Smith - 13.640
51me Ricky Rolfe - 13.743
3 Bernie Lantagne - 13.773
29 Ricky Roberts - 13.795
40 Eric Chase - 13.863
84 Matt Sanborn - 13.895
Friday, September 25, 2009
BARRE -- Joey Polewarczyk began the 2009 season with high expactations and a lot of pressure on his young shoulders. At age 20, the Hudson, N.H. racer has often been touted as the "next big thing" to come out of the bullrings of the northeast. NASCAR champions Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick have spoken well of him, and his talents are praised often by the various car owners he has driven for.
But this season has been a miserable one for Polewarczyk, at least on the race track. Sure, he won an ACT Late Model Tour event at Oxford Plains Speedway in May, finally got his first victory at Barre's Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl in June, and has raced twice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this year. But between events in ACT, PASS, and NASCAR competition, he has been involved in no less than five incidents that took him out of contention for a victory in the 2009 calendar year. And although he ranks in the top-five, he is not a contender for the ACT championship this season.
A victory in this weekend's Chittenden Bank Milk Bowl at Thunder Road, Polewarczyk says, would erase all of the bad stuff.
"I want this one bad," he said on Friday. "Last night I stayed up and watched the last three years' Milk Bowls on DVDs that we have. I watched every part of them. I'm the most focused I've ever been for any race this year. Next to the Oxford 250, this is the biggest race we have, it's huge. We've had a horrible second-half of the season, and a win in this race could change everything."
While he has a chance to tie Brian Hoar's record of four consecutive pole positions in the race, Polewarczyk has bigger designs on just getting the checkered flag at the end of the day.
"I definitely want another pole. Brian Hoar won four in a row and it would be pretty cool to tie his record, but our main focus is to win the race," Polewarczyk said. "We always qualify well and do well in the first segment, then we seem to have back luck or get in someone else's mess in the second segment. It's all about the second segment." In 2007, a dismal 27th-place effort in the middle 50-lap segment of the race left Polewarczyk 19th overall. He won the first round and finished third overall in 2006, but a 14th-place second-segment finish left him unable to catch winner Brent Dragon or runner-up Cris Michaud.
"The Milk Bowl is all about patience, but then again, you can't say that, either," Polewarczyk said of the race, which inverts the finish of each segment to begin the next and awards the driver with the lowest three-segment point tally (one point to win a segment, two point for second, etc.) the overall win. "You can't look at it like a regular 150-lap race, it's 50 laps that you have do three times. You have to make your moves at the right time and be quick, but you have to save your [equipment], too, and then do it two more times. You have to get to the front fast, but you have to race with the sense in your head that, 'Okay, there's another leg right after this one, so don't wreck.'"
Polewarczyk earned his first win at Thunder Road in June at the Vermont Governor's Cup 150, but said the win does little to ease his nerves at the tough quarter-mile. "We ran good at Thunder Road for a long time before the win," he said. "The win gives us confidence and it got the monkey off our back, but you can't ever go to Thunder Road thinking you're going to win there. It's such a tough place, and it'll bite you at any second. You can come out of Turn 4 and think you're just going to brush the wall a little bit, and the next thing you know you're upside down. You have to respect it, because something will always go wrong that will bring you back to reality."
But the temptation to race hard and try to win the Milk Bowl, and to turn his frustrating year around for his team means Polewarczyk isn't holding anything back.
"You have to take some chances, but you have to be smart," he said. "And a win in that race would just... I can't even tell you how much it would mean."
(PHOTO: Joey Polewarczyk says he's "more focused" than he's ever been entering this weekend's Milk Bowl at Thunder Road. Photo by Justin St. Louis/VMM)
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
It has been the craziest week in the history of auto racing. Ever. Okay, maybe not, but a lot went on. And thanks to my newfound love of the word "abhorrent" (it's one of those words you know exists, but don't realize it's missing from your life until you use it once, kinda like the way I feel about dirt racing after this year), we've got ourselves a column.
Here's a look at the week that was.
--The NASCAR Camping World Series East, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, and ACT Invitational events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last weekend. I thought they were great. The two NASCAR events had a few too many cautions -- and for dumb stuff, like Jason Patison and Eric Curran wrecking each other for last place in the East race -- but the actual racing for the lead was very entertaining in all three events.
--Donny Lia was stellar in the Modifieds.
--Helping coach SPEED Channel's Bob Dillner on the iRacing Modified simulator in the infield media center on Saturday with driver Ryan Preece, not 15 minutes after Preece finished third in the WMT race. We ran Stafford Motor Speedway, the site of Preece's most recent WMT victory, and Dillner wasn't exactly, um, the smoothest guy. Not horrible, but not smooth. Preece got in the seat and beat Dillner's best lap by a half-second... on the first lap. And then it was my turn, and I felt pretty good about being only four tenths off Preece's best time. It's a helluva jump (or is it "Heluva Good!"?) from a four-cylinder Mustang five years ago to a, uh, digitally-created SK Modified at Stafford. But we got it done.
--The ACT Invitational was superlative, especially for a first effort. The 36 cars were all very classy-looking, the drivers were racy and ultra-respectful of each other on the track, and holy cow, the crowd got into it. ACT announcer Troy Germain is to be commended for his energetic introduction of each driver, and Tom Curley's idea to incorporate the presentation of the team battle flags onto the edge of the race track blew the crowd away. Many fans stood for the entire 50 laps.
--The tractor trailer shower setup things in the parking lots at NHMS were out-freaking-standing.
--The most interesting part of the huge crowd that stuck around after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event on Saturday to see the ACT race was listening to where the cheers came from during introductions. Some estimates had as many as 40,000 fans there, but it was probably more like 18,000 to 25,000 for the ACT Invitational. Every fan applauded every driver, but for each one there were patches of localized families and fans losing their minds for their favorite drivers. When Randy Potter was introduced, one 50-person section of the stands, most likely centered around Groveton, N.H., went crazy on the frontstretch. When T.J. Watson was up, his Maine-based fans went nuts over in Turn 1, or wherever they were. And the Milton fans cheered for guys like Brent Dragon, Scott Payea, Jean-Paul Cyr, and Eric Chase. It was very cool, and it also sent a message loud and clear to NHMS officials that there were a lot people there specifically to watch the ACT Invitational.
--Three words: Juan Pablo Montoya.
--Five words: Eddie MacDonald and Rollie Lachance.
--You gotta love Travis Adams' attitude. Adams spent the year chasing a dream for his father, the late Donnie Adams, and won his fourth-straight Oxford Plains Speedway championship. But his goals were two-fold: Adams wanted the title for his dad, but he also wanted to win the title so he would be invited to Loudon, N.H. for the ACT Invitational, just for the chance to race at NHMS. He tested at the track in August, although not very well, and then was scored 32nd in the race after a poor showing on Saturday. I went over to ask Adams a couple of questions about his race as he loaded his car to head back home to Maine, and he was clearly busy, but in his typical fashion, he spoke as he worked. After getting the answers I was looking for, I shook his hand and said, "I'm sorry your Loudon wasn't what you wanted." And Travis Adams stopped what he was doing, looked me in the eye, and said, "Yes it was." That's how important that race was to him, and to 35 other drivers. That moment was by far my favorite part of the weekend.
--Fred Neergaard, the NHMS Director of Communications, is a good man, and bent over backwards -- even when he didn't have to -- to help me out last weekend.
--Tony Stewart and Joey Polewarczyk chatted after the CWSE race on Friday night. And Stewart's obviously been paying attention since the Governor's Cup in June, because he asked Polewarczyk if he was ready for next weekend. Polewarczyk replied, "I'm not running Dover, we don't have the money for that," and Stewart said, "No, I know. I meant the Milk Bowl. That's a big deal."
--The post-race ACT Invitational press conference was truly the epitome of small-time racers in front of a big-time audience. Runner-up Nick Sweet and third-place finisher Brandon Watson were way out of their element speaking to a brightly-lit room full of people with cameras and tape recorders, but they performed as well in there as they did on the track. If you're a regular reader here at VMM, you've probably figured out by now that Sweet is a great interview because of his honesty and natural goofiness, and it was more of the same at NHMS, although instead of just me asking him questions, it was 40 people at once. Watson, all of 16 years old, was clearly uncomfortable and stared at the back wall or at the ceiling while answering questions, but both drivers said all the right things. Seth Leavitt of WCAX-TV asked Sweet to compare racing the mile at NHMS against the quarter-mile at Thunder Road, and Sweet gave his answer. Leavitt then asked Sweet, "Were you nervous?" and Sweet replied, "Right now I am. This is the hardest part." As winner Eddie MacDonald made his way to the head table, Watson's very proud mother rushed up to the middle of the room, where she inadvertantly set off a two-minute photo session by getting a shot of her boy with MacDonald. It was a very endearing moment, and certainly one that took some folks by surprise. The Q&A session with Watson and Sweet ended with a round of applause initiated by Neergaard, who was obviously enjoying the show. And when Sweet got up from the table, his straight-faced question "Can I have this bottle of water?" was enough to set the crowd off into a roar of laughter. MacDonald, of course, is no stranger to those types of events, and accorded himself in the way most professional athletes do with the media. But the presser was as special a moment as the race itself, in my opinion, and to be honest I'm not sure I expected it to go any differently.
--We weren't there to see it, but the efforts of Donald Theetge's team to literally rebuild the left-front corner of his wrecked car at Autodrome St-Eustache on Sunday. The knuckle-busting ultimately led to a Série ACT-Castrol championship for the group.
--I arrived at New Hampshire Motor Speedway more unprepared to do my job than I have ever been at any race, ever, in nearly ten years of work. From my days on the ACT payroll when I forgot to bring a printer to a Canadian race, or from my days in high school freelancing for whatever newspaper would let me, or from my first "interview" with Matt Kenseth at the 2004 Oxford 250. I was simply a floundering idiot at NHMS as far as having my stuff together. You might not have noticed, but I sure did, and I know some VIPs did, too. I apologize to you all and to myself.
--Can anyone tell me who Richard Harriman, Chris Jones, Chris Lawson, and Nick Tucker are, or why I don't have a Truck ride?
--Speedway Motorsports Inc. should really consider contracting their long-time partner, Sylvania, into installing some lights around NHMS. The CWSE race was cut 26 laps short because of darkness on Friday night, and it was so bad that if there was a black car going down the frontstretch, well, I sure didn't see it.
--Polewarczyk's wreck in the CWSE race was an extremely hard hit, driver's door first into the Turn 1 wall. Polewarczyk admitted that he was dazed: "Everything went black."
--ACT teams running too much tire stagger, as much as three inches, and causing problems for themselves. There were a lot of cars affected, including Ben Rowe, who hit the wall in Turn 3 after his right-front tire blew out, Brian Hoar, who faded from second to eighth over the final five laps, early leader Joey Doiron, and winner Eddie MacDonald, who had a major blister on the right-rear tire of his car.
--The weather on Friday delayed everything at NHMS, which in turn cancelled our trip to White Mountain Motorsports Park for the Late Model championship event at the PASS North season finale.
--Patrick Laperle's Castrol deal at St-Eustache. After listening to both Laperle and ACT's Tom Curley, it appears rather obvious to me that the Jacques Laperle car was used in the lap 273 yellow flag to aid the ailing Patrick Laperle car. It was totally wrong. But I'm also not sure I agree with Curley's decision to not open pit road, because that potentially could have had a negative effect on everyone else running the race, too. Luckily, it appears that it didn't. At the end of the day, I think Patrick Laperle took a chance he shouldn't have taken and he got burned for it.
--Because I was at NHMS, I again wasn't there to see it, but I'm hearing that Airborne Speedway top dogs Martin Roy and Patrick Dupree were disqualified from Sunday's non-points "Apple Bowl 100" at the track for illegal engine parts. Reportedly, Dupree was running unapproved titanium parts in his DIRTcar 'spec' engine, and Roy's issues went much farther than that. DIRTcar inspectors in fact traveled to Airborne on Monday to confirm the findings. That having been said, neither driver had any issues in technical inspection during the regular season, and they were both in the tech shed plenty of times.
--The cold weather at night at Loudon was atrocious. Go ahead and try to sleep in a pop-up camper when it's 74 below outside, I dare ya.
AROUND THE REGION:
Time to take a look at the top Vermonters from the past weekend...
ACT Late Model Tour: On Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Mass. beat Barre's Nick Sweet to win the inaugural ACT Invitational. Brandon Watson of Stayner, Ont. was third with Patrick Laperle of St-Denis, Qué. fourth and Graniteville's John Donahue fifth.
Airborne Speedway (Plattsburgh, N.Y.): Aaron Bartemy of Sheldon finished eighth in Sunday's Apple Bowl 100 for Modifieds. Milton's Bill Sawyer was the Sportsman runner-up, with Joey Roberts of Georgia sixth, Brad Bushey of Georgia ninth, and Joe Steffen of Essex Junction tenth. Lance Rabtoy of Fairfax was fourth in the Renegade feature with brother Dave Rabtoy of Swanton fifth.
Monadnock Speedway (Winchester, N.H.): Dwight Jarvis of Ascutney was eighth in Friday's Modified feature with Josh King of Vernon 12th. Dana Shepard of Putney was 13th in the Super Stock race, and Joe Rogers of Ludlow was 10th in the Mini Stocks. Vernon drivers Heath Renaud, Josh Houle, and Pat Houle finished second, fourth, and fifth in the four-cylinder Enduro, respectively.
NASCAR Camping World Series East: Barney McRae of Milton finished 33rd in Friday's Heluva Good! 125 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H.
PASS North Super Late Models: Richie Dearborn of Hollis, Me. won Friday's season finale at White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, N.H. over Ben Rowe of Turner, Me., Kelly Moore of Scarborough, Me., Travis Benjamin of Morrill, Me., and 2009 champion Johnny Clark of Farmingdale, Me. Danville rookie Steven Legendre finished seventh.
Riverside Speedway (Groveton, N.H.): Ben Bedor of Lyndonville was fifth in Saturday's Super Stock feature. Dean Switser, Jr. of Lyndonville was third in the Street Stocks with Andy Fecteau of Hardwick fifth. Toby Merchant of Concord was the Dwarf Car runner-up, and Johanna Christman of Cabot won the Angel feature.
White Mountain Motorsports Park (North Woodstock, N.H.): St. Johnsbury's Stacy Cahoon finished fifth in the Late Model feature on Friday to wrap up his second-straight track championship. Stevie Parker of Lyndonville was the Strictly Stock runner-up, taking that division's championship, and Concord's Rubin Call won the Strictly Stock Mini race, finishing second in the championship to Opie Thayer.
Saturday, Sept. 26
Bear Ridge Speedway, Bradford -- 6:00pm (Final Event -- Championship Night, Enduro, Demolition Derby)
Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl, Barre -- 1:00pm (Booth Bros./H.P. Hood Qualifying Day)
Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y. -- 5:00pm (Final Event -- Non-Winners Races)
Monadnock Speedway, Winchester, N.H. -- 2:00pm (Final Event -- School Bus Race, Demolition Derby)
Sunday, Sept. 27
Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl, Barre -- 1:00pm (Final Event -- Chittenden Bank Milk Bowl)
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Following a highly controversial Série ACT-Castrol season finale at Autodrome St-Eustache on Sunday, Laperle says he is likely done racing with the American-Canadian Tour for a while. Laperle entered the St-Eustache 300 finale trailing rival Donald Theetge by 33 points for the championship, but found himself in the catbird seat when Theetge was involved in a wreck near the race's halfway point.
Laperle led 189 laps before suffering a flat tire, at the same time that his cousin, Jacques Laperle, running in sixth place at the time, stopped on the track on lap 273 to bring out a caution flag.
The Laperle teams claim that Jacques Laperle's car also had a flat tire, while ACT officials disagree. According to ACT officials, a member of Patrick Laperle's team violated the ACT rulebook by leaving his pit during the race to have a conversation with Jacques Laperle's team at the other end of the infield pit road, just one lap prior to the yellow flag. ACT President Tom Curley viewed the move as "abhorrent", "detrimental", and "dishonest", disqualified the Jacques Laperle car from the race, and penalized the Patrick Laperle car one lap for the pit road violation.
The pit road also remained closed, ACT says, because the caution period was very quick, opening only after the field was realigned, the call came from the race control booth to cross cars over double-file, and the green flag was displayed at the restart. Patrick Laperle pitted to change his flat tire when the pit area opened, losing another lap in the process.
"I knew if I came to pit road to change my tire while it was closed I would lose a lap, so I stayed on the track," said Patrick Laperle, who disagrees. "They were supposed to be double-file, but they were single-file on the restart, and Tom Curley says he doesn't want to look at the video." (In a video of the restart posted on JournalSport.ca, some cars are running double-file at the restart, including front-row starters Jonathan Urlin (#4) and Sylvain Lacombe (#3), as well as some cars in the middle of the pack. Click here to view the video.)
Laperle thinks Curley is playing favorites. "I don't know what it is, but I think he likes Theetge and not me," Laperle said. "There was a press conference in Québec City before the season started and they had Theetge, but I won the U.S. championship and they didn't invite me, no one talked about that. And [Curley] brought Theetge to Loudon for the test early this year and not me. He never talked to me in the pits all year from the first race at Vallée-Jonction (in June) until two weeks ago (at Thunder Road). All of a sudden on Labor Day, surprise, Tom is in our trailer telling a story. I don't get it."
As of now, Laperle says his primary ACT car is for sale, his sponsor, Normand Girard of JPN Racing, has pulled the plug on funding any future efforts with ACT racing, and the car will likely be purchased before the week is out. He said he wanted to race at the Milk Bowl at Thunder Road this weekend to try to become the first driver in history to win the event three consecutive years, but is "afraid I might do something stupid if I go race there."
Laperle's brother and crew chief, Eric, said Curley told him in the heat of the moment at St-Eustache that "ACT would rather lose one team (Laperle's) than a group of drivers that would leave if we won."
The Laperles feel targeted by Curley, drawing comparisons between past controversial incidents with drivers Junior Hanley, Randy LaJoie, and Ralph Nason. "It's been that way all year long, it's been that way for many, many years," said Eric Laperle.
"If that's the way [Curley] wants to treat people, I'll leave," said Patrick Laperle. "We're not a bunch of idiots, we're not just a piece of meat to throw around. I'm done, I've had enough for now. I don't think I'll be racing ACT for a while, maybe like two years I'll come back. I lost Julio (Miglioli, a former sponsor) because of something like this (in 2006), now I've lost Normand except for the Pro Stock when we race that.
"I say that I'm done, but I might have regret and come back next year. But then I'll probably want to smash my head off a wall if I do."
Curley explains the situation on lap 273, when Jacques Laperle drew a yellow flag, allegedly to aid his cousin, Patrick Laperle, who had a flat tire while leading the race and was certain to overtake Theetge for the championship at the time: "The press release explains it all. Jacques Laperle intentionally stopped his car in the power lane in the middle of the backstretch. As soon as the yellow was up, he peeled out and joined the end of the field. There was no crash, and there was no clean-up, it was very quick. We crossed the cars over for the restart and when the field came down, when the last car went by and took the green flag, the pits were opened up. Laperle and Laperle came down, and Patrick changed his tire, which is when he went a lap down. It's not our responsibility to change the tire, that's the team's responsibility, and that's why he lost a lap."
Curley on Laperle's post-race one-lap penalty: "It's clearly obvious to anybody but Laperle fans what the situation was. Patrick Laperle was riding around with a flat tire, about on the rim, and he was penalized for a crew member's infraction of the ACT rulebook. Patrick Laperle's team was in pit stall number one on the frontstretch, and one of the crew members was clearly sent to the backstretch, 30 pits away, to have a conversation with Jacques Laperle's team one lap prior to the yellow. According to ACT rules, the crew is not allowed to leave its pit stall during a race."
Curley on Laperle's apparent decision to have cousin Jacques Laperle intentionally draw a yellow flag: "The irony is that there are many strategies Patrick Laperle could have used, and I've explained this to them, that would have avoided this, and had he used one of them, he would have lost maybe one lap, if that. He would have been shown the same courtesies as everyone else in that situation. Frankly, I think the actions of his team were abhorrent.
"We're not idiots in this business, and I know a lot of you think we are, but we're not. We've been around a long time and seen a lot of races, and it was clear what was going on with the Laperle cars. If the fans can't determine what's fair play and what's not, I guess that leaves it up to us as officials. I think [Laperle's] actions were detrimental to the sport, they were dishonest, and there were other options they could have used."
Curley on allegations of favoring Donald Theetge for the championship: "At the time I obviously had no idea Donald Theetge could recover from that wreck and finish the race. His car was completely demolished, even the shock tower was sheared off the car. But his crew totally rebuilt the left-front of that car in 50 laps, they did a tremendous job. And then we ended up having that horrow-show scenario with everything that happened after Theetge's crash, and it came down to one point in favor of either driver, depending on the scoring recheck.
"As things played out, if Patrick Laperle had raced with honesty and respectfulness, he would have been the champion. Would he have won the race? I don't think so, the guys up front were very strong, and even with the new tire I don't think he could have passed them. But he certainly could have finished fourth or fifth and won the championship over Theetge by a wide margin.
"Laperle had a lot of options. If option number one works and option number two works, but option number three doesn't, why do it? They chose option number three. I can't explain that."
WATERBURY -- Donald Theetge has officially been named the 2009 Série ACT-Castrol championship, but not before a set of unprecedented circumstances determined that outcome.
At Sunday's season finale, the St-Eustache 300 at Autodrome St-Eustache near Montréal, Theetge entered the race with a 33-point edge over Patrick Laperle to lead the championship standings. Theetge was involved in a wreck just past the halfway point, sending him to the pits for major repairs on the suspension of his car. Meanwhile, Laperle led 189 laps in the race before a tire began to go flat.
That's when things become, as the official ACT-issued press release puts it, "bizarre." This is the explanation from the release, posted at 12:35pm on Tuesday:
"[Laperle] was leading around lap 268 when he appeared to have a tire going flat. Maintaining the lead but slowing dramatically until lap 270, Laperle knew he was in trouble. Sylvain Lacombe took over the lead on lap 270 and was then passed by eventual winner Jonathan Urlin of London, Ontario. Laperle started going back through the field. At this point there was not much question that he would have to pit under green flag conditions unless he could catch a ‘lucky’ caution flag.
On lap 273 Laperle’s cousin, Jacques Laperle, racing in only his second ACT Castrol event of the season, was running sixth on the lead lap. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, Jacques Laperle stopped his car under green in the outside lane on the backstretch, bringing out a yellow. The Jacques Laperle team claimed that they had a flat tire. ACT officials observed that the tire was not flat. Jacques Laperle was disqualified from the event for his actions of intentionally bringing out a yellow."
The infractions did not end there, however.
The ACT release continues: "Following a timing and scoring re-check of several positions which was requested by the Patrick Laperle team, there was a scoring adjustment on the Daniel Descoste finishing position. There was also a procedural penalty issued to the Patrick Laperle team by ACT officials for violation of the ACT rules and procedures. A Patrick Laperle crew member left their pit stall and entered the pit stall of cousin Jacques Laperle, just prior to the alleged ‘flat tire’ on the backstretch. Patrick Laperle was issued a one-lap penalty for this infraction. Under ACT rules and procedures the driver is responsible for the conduct of his team. Patrick Laperle finished the event in 8th position, the first car two laps down.
With only 17 of the 33 cars that started the event finishing, Donald Theetge managed to complete the race in 18th position. The final results awarded Theetge the Championship by a single point."
According to eyewitnesses, the pits were kept closed during the lap-273 caution period, thereby not allowing Patrick Laperle to come to pit road to change his flat tire. As the pace car turned off the speedway for the subsequent restart, the pits were then opened. Laperle entered the pits to change the flat tire as the green flag came out, losing the second lap during the process. A video posted on the French-language website, JournalSport.ca, shows a clip of the final restart, and shows Laperle (orange #91) on pit road and his team changing the tire.
Jonathan Urlin of London, Ont. was the winner of the race, taking the $5,000 top prize and the first Série ACT-Castrol victory of his career. Sylvain Lacombe, Karl Allard, Jean-François Déry, and Brandon Watson completed the official top-five finishers.
A controversy stemming from the event reportedly involving Patrick Laperle, which resulted in a scoring recheck, has delayed the results of the event by two days. The race finish will also determine the 2009 Série ACT-Castrol champion.
Donald Theetge entered the race with a 33-point lead over Laperle.
And as of early Tuesday morning, no champion has been announced. The ACT website is also not functional as of 3:00am Tuesday, due to a bandwidth issue.
A short press release on the front page of the website on Monday named Jonathan Urlin of London, Ont. as the winner of the St-Eustache 300 over Sylvain Lacombe and Karl Allard, but other than noting that a scoring recheck is currently under way, little else was made official by Waterbury, Vt.-based ACT.
According to the official French-language ACT website, Theetge is the unofficial champion over Laperle by a single point, 725-724. Theetge entered the race with a 33-point cushion over Laperle, but reportedly encountered problems after crashing early in the St-Eustache 300. Laperle dominated by leading many laps, but faded with a leaking tire late in the race.
Vermont Motorsports Magazine has learned that an official announcement is expected from ACT some time on Tuesday, and will post information as it becomes available.
Monday, September 21, 2009
LOUDON, N.H. -- American-Canadian Tour President Tom Curley looked over a crowd of about 65 people on Saturday. It was just past noon on September 19, 2009 in Loudon, New Hampshire. ACT and the entire decade-long business model of northeastern Late Model racing was about to debut at the 1-mile track, in front of the most important personalities in stock car racing, and in front of certainly the largest spectator crowd to attend an ACT event. For most of the people in that crowd of 65, everything happening around them that day was happening for the first time.
But Curley was having a bit of déjà vu.
"I remember it like it was yesterday," Curley told the drivers, officials, team members, and media assembled before him. "We had [21 cars]. We had some big names like Beaver and Bobby Dragon, Dave Dion, and Robbie Crouch, but not much else. There were twenty-five thousand seats, and about twenty-five hundred people."
It was September 18, 1982, and Curley had just pulled into Dover Int'l Speedway with what was then known as the NASCAR North Tour. It was his series' first appearance on a superspeedway, running as the support show to the NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National Series. The track's promoter, Dennis McGlynn, had taken what Curley called "a wild gamble" by bringing in a group of New England and Canadian-based racers that had mostly never left the tiny, quarter- and half-mile bullrings of the northeast.
In addition to a thin field of cars and a short head count in the grandstand, the race itself was lackluster. Only ten cars were running at the finish, with just two of them completing the entire 200-lap distance. Randy LaJoie finished fourth, six laps off the pace. Gardiner Leavitt was eighth, 20 laps down. Bobby Dragon posted a ninth-place finish after crashing out 46 laps from the end. After Dion collected the trophy for his victory, McGlynn asked Curley what he wanted to do. Curley suggested McGlynn pay only half of the $43,000-plus purse and let him return home with his tail tucked between his legs. McGlynn wouldn't hear of it.
"It was not a promotional success," Curley says, "but it was a start. [McGlynn] told me after that first race that almost nothing works the first time, and to give it three years and then analyze things."
Sure enough, the NASCAR North Tour returned to Dover in 1983 with, as Curley recalled, 25 cars and 5,000 fans. In 1984, there were 37 cars and 17,000 ticket holders.
Fast forward 27 years and one day to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where Curley was telling his ACT drivers the story. Like Dover so many years ago, it was the first time for Curley's present group of racers to be racing on a superspeedway. Like Dover, there were important people watching. And like Dover, the promoter, Bruton Smith, had taken a gamble.
Unlike Dover, though, there were 36 cars, most of the region's most recognizable full-fendered short track drivers, and, including those that attended the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Whelen Modified Tour races earlier in the day, about 40,000 fans in the grandstands.
The ACT drivers ripped off a competitive 50-lap exhibition race, one that was promoted heavily on both sides of the border from last November until post time, with just two cautions in 38 minutes. ACT's traditional pre-race pomp played well into Curley's hands at NHMS; an energetic introduction, followed by the series' traditional wave-off lap with battle flags displayed on the track's edge, pushed the already excited crowd into a football stadium-style cheer. There were multiple passes for the lead, a solid mix of veterans and youngsters -- as in 66 year-old Joey Laquerre taking on 16 year-old Brandon Watson for third place with two laps to go -- an even representation of every part of the region's racers among the top finishers, and a host of track officials that were impressed by the event.
The official New Hampshire Motor Speedway press release following the finish appears to be a good omen for ACT; one of the two short quotes printed from winner Eddie MacDonald was "I'm sure there will be many more ACT Invitationals here," indicating that the series has a place at NHMS in the future. Another report from Green-White-Checker quoted NHMS General Manager Jerry Gappens saying that he was "very impressed" and that he wants to have ACT back at the track.
Tom Curley's mind may have been stuck in 1982 at Dover on Saturday. But it appears he might be better served now spending his time thinking about 2010 at New Hampshire.
(PHOTO: Tom Curley's rocky debut at Dover in 1982 was no match for his successful first event at New Hampshire on Saturday. Photo by Justin St. Louis/VMM)
MacDonald won Friday's Heluva Good! 125 for the NASCAR Camping World Series East at the "Magic Mile" in Loudon, N.H., then won the inaugural American-Canadian Tour Invitational on Saturday evening. The victories back up a pair of Camping World wins at the track in 2008 and a runner-up finish there in the series' race in June of this year.
The Rowley, Mass. driver started 19th in the 36-car field -- comprised almost entirely of drivers that had never raced at the 1.058-mile superspeedway -- and came through the pack with seemingly relative ease. One of those rookie drivers, 16 year-old Brandon Watson from Stayner, Ont., proved to be the biggest challenge for MacDonald. Watson took the lead from Bruce Thomas, Jr. on lap 33, lost it to MacDonald two laps later, then took it back on a lap 41 restart when MacDonald faltered.
MacDonald briefly dropped back to third place behind Watson and Brian Hoar, then clawed his way back to Watson, taking the lead with four laps remaining in the 50-lap race. Nick Sweet of Barre got past Watson one lap later for second place and was catching MacDonald as the checkered flag flew. Patrick Laperle of St-Denis, Qué. finished fourth after starting in 18th place, with Graniteville's John Donahue in fifth. Joey Laquerre, Brad Leighton, Hoar, Thomas, and Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. completed the top ten finishers.
"The ACT race was just unbelievable, it was great competition. Everyone ran a real clean race and it was tough," said MacDonald. "The competition was really tough. I didn't know if I was going to be able to get by the 9 (Watson), he was really quick, especially when I lost him on the restart. I had a terrible restart there. But all in all, the crew did an awesome job. Rollie LaChance (MacDonald's crew chief) just really knows what we need here to win races, I'm just so lucky to have that."
MacDonald said he was pleasantly surprised by the way the ACT drivers and cars performed in race conditions on the unfamiliar track, at speeds that ACT-type Late Model cars, engines, and equipment had never seen.
"I was wondering if there was going to be a lot of cautions with that many cars and that many rookies to this track, but everyone did an excellent job," he said. "These guys really raced clean and they ran real hard. The cars drove really good and nothing was moving all around on the cars, the bodies were really rugged and everything, so I think a lot of guys did a good job bracing up their bodies. I'm just really impressed with how those cars handle here, and the speeds that you can go with a crate engine you can buy right from Chevrolet or Ford. It's just amazing that those cars can handle this kind of speed and turn really good lap times."
MacDonald says he was never nervous about running with the inexperienced field of drivers. He raced through the pack in close proximity to Brian Hoar, who, like MacDonald, is a former NHMS track champion in the Camping World division, but said it was no different than racing against Watson, Sweet, or anyone else. "I love racing with Brian, he's a great competitor, he always will run you clean, so I had no worries about him. After a few laps of racing with the two other guys, the 9 and the 88 (Sweet), it was great. Nobody rubbed me and pushed me up out of the way. They both ran me real clean. Everyone did, though, the whole field as we were coming up through. All those guys did an excellent job."
Winning the inaugural ACT Invitational at NHMS was a big accomplishment, said MacDonald, especially in front of a grandstand that NHMS officials said had possibly the largest Saturday crowd in the history of the track, estimated at some 40,000 during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event that ran just prior to the ACT race. "It's just awesome to be able to win the first ACT race, I'm sure there'll be more. It looked like the stands were still pretty full after the truck race, it seemed like a lot of people stuck around, so that was great for the American-Canadian Tour. This is a huge race for them to be able to come here in front of all these people. I think they'll be here often, and it's just awesome to be able to win the first one."
MacDonald ranked the ACT victory as "right up there" with his July win in the TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway in July. "It's too bad the purse [at NHMS] wasn't about the same, but being the first one just makes it that much more special. [They were] the two biggest races that I wanted to win this year in the Late Model and we were able to get them."
Saturday, September 19, 2009
LOUDON, N.H. -- "This is definitely not where I expected to be when I started racing Tigers," smiled Dave Pembroke as he unfolded his driving suit in the infield at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon.
But Pembroke wasn't necessarily speaking of racing at NHMS.
If it wasn't for the American-Canadian Tour's innovative and cost-effective Late Model 'spec' engine program, which began ten years ago next weekend, Pembroke likely would never have been able to get out of the mid-level Tiger Sportsman division at Barre's Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl, and subsequently never would have had the opportunity to race a Late Model car at NHMS.
After winning Rookie of the Year honors at Thunder Road in 2000, the Middlesex driver went on to score in the prestigious Milk Bowl, Memorial Day Classic, and Labor Day Classic events, a Thunder Road track championship, and at various ACT Late Model Tour races.
"No question, the spec engine is how we got into the Late Model division," said Pembroke, who will start 16th the ACT Invitational just after 5:30pm. "And now look at us."
Pembroke looked outside his trailer and smiled again as a rush of NASCAR Camping World Trucks screamed by. "Even now, I'm 38 years old and I still get all excited when I see these (NASCAR) guys race at this track.
"And in about an hour I get to be one of the guys racing here. And it's because of that spec engine."
Lineup determined by draw
1. Bruce Thomas, Jr.
2. Joey Doiron
3. Brandon Watson
4. Timmy Jordan
5. Joey Laquerre
6. Randy Potter
7. Shawn Martin
8. Nick Sweet
9. Sean Kennedy
10. Ryan Vanasse
11. Jean-Francois Dery
12. Karl Allard
13. Donald Theetge
14. Brian Hoar
15. Ben Rowe
16. Dave Pembroke
17. Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.
18. Patrick Laperle
19. Eddie MacDonald
20. Brent Dragon
21. John Donahue
22. Brad Leighton
23. Scott Payea
24. Phil Scott
25. Jean-Paul Cyr
26. Wayne Helliwell, Jr.
27. Dan McHattie
28. Glen Luce
29. Stacy Cahoon
30. Travis Adams
31. Guy Caron
32. T.J. Watson
33. Eric Chase
34. Jamie Fisher
35. Ricky Rolfe
36. Cris Michaud
LOUDON, N.H. -- Stacy Cahoon never thought it was possible. Not 23 years ago, maybe not even 23 hours ago. The St. Johnsbury racer said that when he began racing in 1986, it would have been absurd to think he would ever race on a superspeedway like the 1.058-mile oval at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, much less in his own car.
"I'm still kind of in awe that I'm here," he said Saturday morning as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars roared in the background. Not 12 hours ago, Cahoon had just clinched the 2009 track championship at White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, N.H., about an hour up the road from Loudon. As nice as it was to have the championship -- his third at the track, a come-from-behind victory as point leader Quinny Welch suffered mechanical woes -- it also carried with it another prize: the 36th and final starting berth at the inaugural ACT Invitational at NHMS on Saturday.
Cahoon said the reality of the situation finally hit him at about 1:00 a.m. as he was working on his race car. "It wasn't until last night after we got done at Donnie Avery's race shop, I was laying underneath the car changing gears that it sunk in -- I'm going to Loudon," said Cahoon. "And here I am today. It's almost undescribable, it really is."
Cahoon admitted that the championship and the invite to NHMS were Welch's to lose, and it was only Welch's broken suspension in Friday night's feature race at White Mountain that gave Cahoon the opportunity to capitalize and take his second-straight title. "I'm sorry for his misfortune, but I think back to when something has been on the line for me and another competitor or an accident took my chances away," said Cahoon. "Quinny is quite a bit younger than me and I hope somewhere down the road he gets another chance to come back down here."
Cahoon and his team worked long into the night on Friday to prepare their car for the ACT Invitational, changing gears, body bracing, front and rear chassis geometry, and exhaust. The crew went to bed at about 1:30 on Saturday morning, was up at 4:30, and was at the NHMS as the gates opened at 6:30. "And," Cahoon adds, "I probably laid awake for at least an hour thinking about coming down here. I probably dozed off for about an hour.
"Don't get me wrong, I am so grateful to be here," Cahoon continued, "but (working through the night) kind of took away from the back-to-back championships. No real celebration, no champagne all over the car or anything."
But the reward of racing on a superspeedway -- in his own car, with his family and friends beside him, is cause for celebration, too. "I'd like to win this race if I have shot, but even if I finish 36th ten laps down I'll be able to say I came here and raced, Cahoon said. "We plan to celebrate tonight."
And what better place to do it than at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
LOUDON, N.H. -- Vermont Motorsports Magazine is at New Hampshire Motor Speedway today for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, and American-Canadian Tour events. While our primary focus is the ACT stuff, you can follow the day on our Twitter page at http://www.twitter.com/vtmotormag.
Friday, September 18, 2009
NORTH WOODSTOCK, N.H. -- Stacy Cahoon of St. Johnsbury has won the Late Model track championship at White Mountain Motorsports Park on Friday night, earning a starting berth in Sarurday's ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Quinny Welch of Lancaster, N.H. entered the event with a six-point lead over Cahoon, but reportedly broke a sway bar and was relegated to a poor finish in the feature event on Friday night, handing Cahoon the title.
LOUDON, N.H. -- Joey Polewarczyk was visibly shaken after a hard crash in the NASCAR Camping World Series East event on Friday evening at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Hudson, N.H. driver was running just outside the top ten on a late restart when he came together with the slower car of David Mayhew, who had blown an engine.
As Polewarczyk moved to the high side to get around Mayhew, the two cars made incidental contact, sending Polewarczyk into a spin, followed by a vicious driver's door impact with the outside wall.
"Everything went black," Polewarczyk admitted. "That's the hardest hit I've had in my life."
Mayhew was a contender early in the Heluva Good! 125, which was shortened to 99 laps because of darkness. Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Mass. was the winner after a green-white-checker finish.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
WARNING: We're learning the mobile device thing as we go! Please bear with us!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
It's here. Loudon. The big one. The race that Tom Curley has worked tirelessly toward. The race that hundreds of teams in the U.S. and Canada strived to get into for six months, a pool from which only 36 will compete. It's the big payoff.
Saturday's ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will be the highlight of the year for certainly the majority, if not all of the drivers, regardless of their outcome.
"That's what I wanted, that's my baby," Brad Leighton said of the event after getting a qualifying berth at Lee USA Speedway in April. There are memories of Eric Pembroke screaming "We're going to Loudon!" into the microphone connected to his cousin David's headset after they won the Memorial Day Classic at Thunder Road. Eddie MacDonald said "the best part" of winning the Oxford 250 -- a career-defining achievement in itself -- was getting an invitation to NHMS. Joey Laquerre calls being asked to race in the ACT Invitational the "high point" of his 50-year career. And youngsters like Joey Polewarczyk, Brandon Watson, and Joey Doiron are undoubtedly hoping that some big-league team owners might take notice if they do well in the race.
There's a lot on the line on Saturday, but there's already so much for the competitors, officials, and fans to be proud of. There has been no shortage of effort by any one of those groups to turn the concept of local Late Models racing at New England's superspeedway into a reality. Fifteen years ago, the notion of such a thing happening was almost laughable. Saturday, it's a culmination of everything that everyone has worked so hard for. The 36 race teams, the officials from the American-Canadian Tour and New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the sponsors and fans, and everyone in between, are to be saluted.
The race may be the best one the northeast has ever seen, or it may be a total flop. We'll know at around 6:15 on Saturday evening. But the fact that we'll have the chance to know is what's special.
There's a race within a race for Loudon, and we'll be there to see how it plays out. Quinny Welch and Stacy Cahoon enter the White Mountain Motorsports Park championship finale on Friday only six points apart for the title, the winner of which will head down I-93 to race at Loudon about 15 or 16 hours later. Oh, and last weekend, Welch and Cahoon finished 1-2 in the feature. If you think there's no pressure there think again. Friday at White Mountain may be the best race to watch during the weekend.
Plus, there's a PASS North event that night, and the 1/4-mile bullring is historically one of the series' best tracks. We'll see you there.
Vermont Mototsports Magazine would like to welcome RPM Racing Engines of Georgia, Vt. as its first-ever advertiser. RPM will present coverage of the PASS and ACT events this weekend, as well as the Chittenden Bank Milk Bowl at Thunder Road on Sept. 26/27. We can't thank Rick Paya and the staff at RPM enough -- or you, the readers -- for believing in VMM this season. It's been an incredible first year for us, and it's all because of you.
I like Kayne West and his music, but he's a jerk for what he did at the VMAs to poor Taylor Swift. However, that doesn't excuse the world of "country music" for embracing Swift. Her songs are catchy, sure, and it's commendable that she writes and performs her own stuff, but come on, kids, that ain't country.
Alan Jackson is country. Garth Brooks is country. Alabama is country. I don't even like country music, but I know enough about it to know that Taylor Swift is -- gasp! -- a pop artist.
When only six cars are on the track in a headline-division feature, that's a bad thing. But when 19 cars start that event, that's even worse. And if that happens when it's only five laps past halfway, you've got a serious problem. That's what Riverside Speedway faced on Saturday night, and kudos to track management for pulling the plug at lap 55 of 100 after a wreckfest of a race like it sounds like they had over there.
Eddie MacDonald can't get enough. The "Outlaw" -- who just announced his intent to race the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Memphis Motorsports Park in October -- will be running the Camping World Series East race at NHMS on Friday as well as the Whelen Modified Tour and ACT Invitational events on Saturday. He's already on the short list of potential winners for the CWSE and ACT races, and who knows, maybe he could put his knowledge of the "Magic Mile" to use in the Modified race and rip off a victory in Andy Seuss's car. Keep your eyes peeled.
If you weren't entertained at Airborne Speedway's Fall Foliage 300, you'll never be entertained at a stock car race. Nineteen lead changes, Patrick Laperle's ridiculous luck, and side-by-side stuff all race long? It doesn't get better than that.
Speaking of Laperle, he is no fan of Donald Theetge. But you knew that.
On lap 15 of the Foliage, the two were racing for the lead after starting on the front row. Theetge came across Laperle's nose entering Turn 3 and spun. It was fourth time the two have come together while racing up front over the last three seasons.
And irony of ironies, Theetge was the last car Laperle had to race with during the closing laps of the Fall Foliage 300, as Laperle lapped the seventh-place Theetge coming to the checkers, which Laperle admitted caused some worry.
We can't print all of what Laperle said about Theetge, but he finished a 30-second rant with, "He's a pain in the ass." If you're keeping score at home, the other incidents (that we can remember, anyway, there may be more) were at Autodrome Montmagny and Airborne in 2007, Autodrome Chaudière last year, and now this.
Add in the long-standing dislike that Montréalers (Laperle's home crowd) and Québecers (Theetge supporters) have for each other, and it might be the best rivarly in northeastern Late Model racing right now. And by the way, they'll be racing for the Série ACT-Castrol championship the day after the ACT Invitational. Theetge leads Laperle by 33 points entering the St-Eustache 300, which, of course, is in Laperle's back yard.
Oh man, that reminds me that pre-season hockey starts this week! Whaddaya think, Habs go for Stanley Cup #25 this year? You Bruins got NUTHIN'! Olé, olé, olé, olé!
AROUND THE REGION:
Time to take a look at the top Vermonters from the past weekend...
ACT Late Model Tour: On Sunday at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y., Patrick Laperle of St-Denis, Qué., beat Williston's Brian Hoar, Brent Dragon of Milton, John Donahue of Graniteville, and Milton's Scott Payea to win the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Fall Foliage 300.
Airborne Speedway (Plattsburgh, N.Y.): Larry Underwood of Milton finished ninth in Sunday's Sportsman feature; hometown driver Robin Wood won the race while his uncle, Bucko Branham, was declared the champion. Dave Rabtoy of Swanton won the Renegade feature with Swanton's Kevin Boutin fourth, Lance Rabtoy of Fairfax sixth, and Mike Terry of Grand Isle tenth. Lonnie Rivers of Cadyville, N.Y. was the champion. Billy Jenkins of Milton was tenth in the Mini-Modified race, with Clintonville, N.Y.'s Billy Thwaits taking the championship. Josh LaPorte of Peru, N.Y. won the Bomber feature, and Jayson Blondo of Champlain, N.Y. was the champion.
Albany-Saratoga Speedway (Malta, N.Y.): Dave Camara of Fair Haven finished sixth in the 358 Modified feature on Friday night, with Ron Langevin of Londonderry matching that performance in the Sporsman feature. Frank Hoard, III of Manchester was eighth in the Budget Sportsman feature, and Fred Little of Salisbury was third in the Pro Street Stock feature. Bill Duprey of Hydeville translated his six-win season at Devil's Bowl Speedway into a win during a rare appearance in the Limited class at Albany-Saratoga, with Mike Clark of Benson fifth.
Bear Ridge Speedway (Bradford): Chris Donnelly of Piermont, N.H. posted his fifth Sportsman Modified win of the season on Saturday night over Jack Cook of Moultonboro, N.H., Bryan King of Corinth, Bob Shepard of West Topsham, and Gary Siemons of Orford, N.H. Topsham rivals Melvin Pierson and Josh Harrington continued their season-long battle in the Sportsman Coupe division by finishing 1-2 overall in a three-segment event, with King repeating his third-place finish over Bradford drivers Jason Horniak and Jeremy Stygles. Dan Eastman of Thetford Center took his 11th Limited Late Model win over East Montpelier's Will Hull, Shane Race of South Strafford, Jason Giguere of Enfield, N.H., and Jeremy Hodge of Bradford. Steve Bell of St. Johnsbury won a close Fast Four race over Chris McKinstry of Thetford, Andy Johnson of Wilder, Kevin Harran of St. Johnsbury, and Chelsea's Wayland Childs. Tom Placey of Bradford took his 10th Hornet win over St. Johnsbury's Bobby Bell, Mike Pittman of Corinth, Karl Sheldon of St. Johnsbury, and Mike Chapin of Chelsea. Matt Tanner of Stephenstown, N.Y. won the SCoNE 360 Sprint Car feature.
Monadnock Speedway (Winchester, N.H.): Saturday's races were rained out.
PASS North Super Late Models: Mike Rowe of Turner, Me. nipped D.J. Shaw of Center Conway, N.H. to win Sunday's PASS 300 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Me. Danville rookie Steven Legendre was 16th and Dave Davis of White River Junction was 25th.
Riverside Speedway (Groveton, N.H.): Paul Scharter, III of Lyndonville was declared the winner of Saturday's Bond Auto Late Model Triplw Crown 100 after only 55 laps were completed, due to many cautions and wrecks. Stephen Hodgdon on Danville finished fourth with Brett Gervais of Island Pond seventh. Derek Ming of Island Pond won the Outlaw Sportsman feature with Davey Ofsuryk of Newport Center third and Dan Sidney of St. Johnsbury fourth. Cody Hodge of Orleans won the Super Stock feature with Dilyn Switser of West Burke eighth and Ben Bedor of Lyndonville ninth. Brett Rowell of Concord won the Street Stock race over Hardwick's Andy Fecteau and Jesse Switser of West Burke. Toby Merchant of Concord was fourth in the Dwarf Car feature. Cabot sisters Lyndsay and Johanna Christman traded spots in the Angel feature to finish 1-2, in a reversal of their finish the week before, and Andy Simpson of Lyndon Center was third in the Cyclone race.
Twin State Speedway (Claremont, N.H.): Dallas Trombley of Rutland won the Late Model race on Sunday, while Guy Caron of Lempster, N.H. was crowned the champion. Nate Kehoe of Windham finished third in the Modified race with Ascutney's Joey Jarvis fourth, Windsor's Robert Hagar fifth, Joe Olmstead of Hartland seventh, Zach Jewett of Perkinsville eighth, and Leo Martin, Jr. or Windsor ninth. Jarvis, a rookie, was overtaken in the final event for the championship by Aaron Fellows of Croydon, N.H. Chris Curtis of Baltimore finished fifth in the Siper Street feature with Rick Lamotte of Ascutney seventh, Colby Hodgdon of Ascutney ninth, and Bruce Jaycox of Hartland tenth. Michael Burke of Bellows Falls was the Strictly Stock runner-up with Tara Tarbell of Springfield fifth, David Greenslit of Waitsfield seventh, Kyle Davis of Pittsford ninth, and West Hartford's Jeremy Blood tenth. Kyle Small of Quechee wonthe Wildcat feature over Cody Small of Hartland and Jeremiah Losee of North Springfield.
White Mountain Motorsports Park (North Woodstock, N.H.): St. Johnsbury's Stacy Cahoon was the Late Model runner-up in Saturday's feature with Morrisville's Dwayne Lanphear seventh. Point leader Stevie Parker of Lyndonville was the Strictly Stock runner-up, and Concord's Rubin Call finished second in the Strictly Stock Mini race.
Friday, Sept. 18
Monadnock Speedway, Winchester, N.H. -- 7:00pm (Championship Night)
New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, N.H. -- 5:10pm (NASCAR Camping World Series East/Heluva Good! 125)
White Mountain Motorsports Park, North Woodstock, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Championship Night plus PASS North)
Saturday, Sept. 19
New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, N.H. -- 12:45pm (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour/New Hampshire 100)
New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, N.H. -- 3:00pm (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series/Heluva Good! 200)
New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, N.H. -- 5:30pm (American-Canadian Tour/ACT Invitational)
Riverside Speedway, Groveton, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
Sunday, Sept. 20
Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y. -- 2:00pm (Modified Apple Bowl 100)
New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, N.H. -- 2:00pm (NASCAR Sprint Cup Series/Sylvania 300)
LOCAL TOURING SERIES:
ACT Late Model Tour: Sat., Sept. 19 -- New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, N.H. (5:30pm)
PASS North Super Late Models: Fri., Sept. 18 -- White Mountain Motorsports Park, North Woodstock, N.H. (6:00pm)
Monday, September 14, 2009
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. -- The Fall Foliage 300 was sponsored by Akwesasne Mohawk Casino, and appropriately, Patrick Laperle made a huge gamble.
The St-Denis, Qué. driver started Sunday's ACT Late Model Tour event at Airborne Speedway from the pole position by virtue of earning a '+9' handicap in qualifying, then volleyed for the lead throughout the event with Donald Theetge, Karl Allard, Brent Dragon, and Brian Hoar.
Theetge and Laperle, the top-two point men in the battle for the Canadian-based ACT Castrol Series championship, made contact in Turn 4 on lap 15, spinning Theetge around and effectively out of contention. Allard and Laperle battled hard for the lead for the next 135 laps through three caution periods, one of which saw Dragon and Hoar pit for right-side tires and fuel on lap 123.
Laperle took a risk during a lap 151 caution by staying out on the speedway as Allard pitted. Laperle also stayed out during two more quick cautions on laps 153 and 158; it proved to be maybe the biggest gamble of his career.
As Allard pitted on lap 151, Dragon lined up second to set up a battle with Laperle for the lead. The two diced for the top spot for nearly 100 laps, including an unexpected stretch of 90 green flag laps, one that Laperle would have pitted during had there been a caution flag.
As the laps clicked away, Laperle's tires began to wear out and his fuel burned off. Dragon pinned Laperle behind the lapped car of Pete Potvin to take the lead on lap 221, and Brian Hoar drove past Laperle on the inside lane on lap 237 to take second place. But Laperle caught a lucky break as Dave Whitcomb spun exiting Turn 4 on lap 248, bringing out the caution flag and allowing Laperle to head to pit road. As he pulled off the race track, the car sputtered, and the engine was silent as Laperle entered his pit stall, starved of fuel.
But a quick stop for right-side tires and gas got Laperle back out onto the track where he lined up seventh among lead-lap cars, 14th in track position. In eight short laps, Laperle sliced through the traffic into fourth place before the tenth and final caution flew on lap 256. Two laps later, Laperle was in the lead, blowing past Scott Payea, Dragon, and Hoar. ACT Late Model Tour point leader Hoar was able to keep pace with Laperle during the closing laps, and had a brief chance to take over on la 284 in lapped traffic, but Laperle held on for the win. Hoar was second with Dragon third.
"Really, man, on the backstretch when I came to the pit road, [the engine was sputtering] 'bang, bang,' like that, and I said, 'No, no, no!'" explained Laperle. "So I pressed on the gas pedal in the turn on pit road, then I pushed in the clutch and put it neutral. When I got to my pit, [the engine] was stopped. I was like 'Come on, start!'"
Eric Laperle, Patrick's crew chief and twin brother, said they had hoped to make their pit stop earlier than lap 248. "That was not the plan at all," he said. "That was scary."
Patrick Laperle said he was more confident in the car as the race went on and he kept the same pace as others, like Allard at mid-race, and Dragon near the finish, slowed down. "I saw Karl Allard was going pretty good, and I was like, 'Okay, Karl, go out and burn your tires.' He was going hard and was sideways all the time. At the beginning [my] car was not good, but in the middle of the race when there was less gas in the gas tank the car seemed to be much better, so I let them burn their tires and when I pit we put some [new] tires on and it was good. In like 12 laps we started at the rear and got to the front."
Hoar and Dragon said they knew they were sitting ducks when Laperle came to pit road late in the race. "Yeah, oh yeah, we knew," said Hoar. "The second he came down pit road, we were like, 'Crap, we're done, we're toast, this is going to be ugly.' We knew right away what he was doing as soon as he didn't come down with everybody else, or when he didn't come down with the 48 (Allard). If it worked out for him, it was the best pit strategy to have. Trust me we had that [in mind], that was Plan A. But Plan A didn't work with that long stretch of green (from lap 32-123), the caution didn't fall where we needed it to fall. So we had to go to Plan B, which was to pit basically in the middle of the race when everybody else did."
"He pulled up beside me when he was going in the pits and he gave me the thumbs up because we raced so clean, and that was awesome," said Dragon, "but when he pitted I knew if he came back with those two tires, it would be like us [after we pitted on lap 123]. It wasn't five laps and we were back to the front. He did what he had to do."
Unofficially, there were 19 lead changes in the race. John Donahue finished in fourth place with Payea fifth. The top ten was completed by Chip Grenier, Theetge, Sylvain Lacombe, Craig Bushey, and Glen Luce. Allard fell out of the race with a broken rear end on lap 213, finishing 22nd. Laperle's win was his first ACT Late Model Tour victory of the year, and Hoar stretched his lead over Payea to 28 points with one event remaining at Oxford Plains Speedway on October 11.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS -- Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Fall Foliage 300
ACT Late Model Tour -- Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009
Pos.-Driver-Hometown (# - indicates rookie)
1. Patrick Laperle, St-Denis-sur-Richelieu, Qué.
2. Brian Hoar, Williston
3. Brent Dragon, Milton
4. John Donahue, Graniteville
5. Soctt Payea, Milton
6. Chip Grenier, Graniteville
7. Donald Theetge, Boischatel, Qué.
8. Sylvain Lacombe, Terrebonne, Qué.
9. Craig Bushey, Cambridge
10. Glen Luce, Turner, Me.
11. Trampas Demers, South Burlington
12. #Joey Doiron, Berwick, Me.
13. Mark Lamberton, Mooers Forks, N.Y.
14. Stépahne Descoste, Oka, Qué.
15. Pete Potvin, III, Graniteville
16. Ricky Rolfe, Albany Twp., Me.
17. Dave Whitcomb, Essex Junction
18. Steve Fisher, Shelburne
19. David Michaud, Blainville, Qué.
20. Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, N.H.
21. Eric Williams, Hyde Park
22. Karl Allard, St-Félicien, Qué.
23. Sam Caron, Colchester
24. #Dylan Smith, Randolph
25. Tyler Cahoon, St. Johnsbury
26. Dave Paya, Milton
27. Randy Potter, Groveton, N.H.
28. Martin Lacombe, Terrebonne, Qué.
29. Joe Tetreault, Enfield, N.H.
30. Jamie Fisher, Shelburne
31. Brad Leighton, Center Harbor, N.H.
32. Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier
33. Derek Lynch, Warkworth, Ont.
34. Daniel Descoste, St-Joseph-du-Lac, Qué.
35. Dave Wilcox, Fairfield
36. Eric Chase, Milton
Fall Foliage 300 weekend coverage by Vermont Motorsports Magazine
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. -- Bucko Branham and Lonnie Rivers might have each won their second-straight championships at Airborne Speedway on Sunday, but they were won in completely different fashion. Branham did what he has done all season and remained consistent up front, finishing third in the Sportsman feature and in close proximity to his nephew, Robin Wood, who was Branham's biggest challenger for the championship through the year. Rivers, though, had a huge amount of luck, combined with the misfortune of Nick Heywood.
In the Sportsman feature, Bill Sawyer spun in Turn 1 after coming down on leader Toby Ebersole with five laps to go; Plattsburgh racers Wood and Branham narrowly missed collecting both drivers. (See video of the incident below -- Sawyer (#39) spins as Ebersole (#82), Wood (#61), Branham (#20), and others avoid.)
Wood took the lead from Ebersole on the restart following the incident, then held him and Branham off for the win. Unofficially, Branham took the championship by just seven points.
Branham's game plan was to keep Wood in sight. "I just stayed tight to Robin," he said. "He's my nephew and he's a great competitor. He's as strong as I am behind the wheel, and he's really good at picking the car apart to make it faster and obviously it shows, he's got a lot of wins."
Wood was gracious in defeat. "I can't complain about the year, we won seven races," he said. "Losing the title to Bucko makes it hurt a little less."
Branham celebrated his 25th season of racing in 2008 with his first career championship, and now he's gone back-to-back. He said that it took him a while, but he figured out the secret to winning a title. "Keeping my temper, that's basically what it's all about," he said. "Just keeping my temper and keeping my cool. I'm getting soft."
Tylor Terry finished fourth in the race with Jamy Begor fifth. The top ten was completed by Shawn Duquette, Rick Frenyea, Jimmy Bushey, Larry Underwood, and Howard Stoner.
Rivers, of Cadyville, N.Y., entered the Renegade division finale trailing Heywood by a dozen points. Both were running inside the top ten -- with Heywood trailing Rivers in the race but clinging to a slim point lead -- when Heywood came together with another car and sailed off Turn 2 with just three laps remaining. The yellow flag came out, with Rivers restarting in third place and Heywood a distant 20th. Rivers eventually lost third place to Joe Warren at the finish line, but Heywood was only able to make his way to 16th at the finish.
"I didn't see Nick go off, but when the caution came out I saw him at the very tail [of the field] and I assumed that something had happened to him. Thank God," Rivers said. "Thank God for Nick spinning out. You know, sorry Nick, but it happens."
Former Renegade champion Dave Rabtoy of Swanton ended a frustrating season with his first win of the year. Josh Terry finished second over Warren, Rivers, and Randy LaDue.
Billy Thwaits of Clintonville, N.Y. captured his first Mini-Modified championship with a fourth-place finish in his feature. Justin Doner of Keeseville, N.Y. was the race winner, followed by Randy Martin, Dustin Duvall, Thwaits, and Chris LaVair.
Jayson Blondo of Champlain, N.Y. finished second in the Bomber feature to overtake rookie Josh Durivage for the division championship. Josh LaPorte of Peru, N.Y. was the race winner, Durivage finished seventh.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS -- Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Fall Foliage
Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009
J&S Steel Sportsman (25 laps)
1. Robin Wood, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
2. Toby Ebersole, Peru, N.Y,
3. Bucko Branham, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
4. Tylor Terry, Morrisonville, N.Y.
5. Jamy Begor, Mooers Forks, N.Y.
6. Shawn Duquette, Morrisonville, N.Y.
7. Rick Frenyea, Schuyler Falls, N.Y.
8. Jimmy Bushey, Mooers Forks, N.Y.
9. Larry Underwood, Milton
10. Howard Stoner, Altona, N.Y.
Versatile Trailer Sales Renegade (25 laps)
1. Dave Rabtoy, Swanton
2. Josh Terry, Morrisonville, N.Y.
3. Joe Warren, West Chazy, N.Y.
4. Lonnie Rivers, Cadyville, N.Y.
5. Randy LaDue, West Chazy, N.Y.
Keeseville NAPA Mini-Modified (15 laps)
1. Justin Doner, Keeseville, N.Y.
2. Randy Martin, Keeseville, N.Y.
3. Dustin Duvall, Keeseville, N.Y.
4. Billy Thwaits, Clintonville, N.Y.
5. Chris LaVair, Gabriels, N.Y.
Monster Energy Bomber (15 laps)
1. Josh LaPorte, Peru, N.Y.
2. Jayson Blondo, Champlain, N.Y.
3. Curtis LaGrave, Jr., Plattsburgh, N.Y.
4. Bill Joyal, AuSable Forks, N.Y.
5. Josh LeClaire, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Fall Foliage 300 weekend coverage by Vermont Motorsports Magazine
Patrick Laperle won the ACT Late Model Tour Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Fall Foliage 300 at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y. on Sunday afternoon, using an exciting -- if somewhat unplanned -- pit strategy to take his third career Foliage victory. VMM will have full recaps of the Fall Foliage 300 on Monday. This series of videos highlights the St-Denis, Qué. driver's impressive outing.
The first clip shows Laperle (#91) battling for the lead with countryman Karl Allard (#48) just before the halfway point of the race, with Brent Dragon (#55) and Brian Hoar (#37) enjoying a tight battle for third place. And no, these aren't pace laps, the racing was side-by-side for much of the day.
The second clip shows Laperle's pit stop for fuel and right-side tires under caution on lap 248, dropping him from third place to seventh, the final car on the lead lap at the time. Laperle nearly fell victim to several long green-flag runs that emtpied his gas tank; as Laperle pulled alongside the pace car before entering the pits, the car began to sputter. As he arrived at his pit stall, Laperle's car was silent, out of fuel.
The final clip shows Laperle blasting by Hoar and Dragon to get back into the lead on lap 258, just ten laps after pitting, and only two laps after a restart that lined him up fourth behind Hoar, Dragon, and Scott Payea (#89). He went on to beat Hoar for the win. Dragon finished third, John Donahue fourth, and Payea fifth.
(Videos by Justin St. Louis/VMM)
Sunday, September 13, 2009
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. -- Brian Hoar has been in this position before, but he wasn't sure he'd be there again this year.
"When we agreed to put this together, we said we wanted to make a run at the championship," Hoar says of a meeting he had with car owner Rick Paya last October. "I don't know if 'expected' is the right word, but it was our goal, and we hoped to be in this position. at this point in the year."
With two races remaining, including Sunday's Fall Foliage 300 at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y., Hoar finds himself leading the ACT Late Model Tour championship standings by a slim 16 points over Scott Payea. It's not new ground for Hoar, either. The Williston driver has won five ACT championships, the most recent coming in 2000 after winning the Fall Foliage event, and is a former champion of Airborne, Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl in Barre, and the 1-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H.
The 2009 season had a bit of a rocky start for the RPM Motorsports team headed by Paya, who was Jean-Paul Cyr's crew chief for five ACT championships earlier in the decade. Through the first six races, there were just two top-five finishes and a dismal 22nd at White Mountain Motorsports Park. "We knew it would take a bit of time to learn each other and our preferences, but our intention the whole time has been to race for the ACT championship," said Hoar.
And apparently the jelling period has passed. Since White Mountain, the Hoar-Paya record has been sterling with finishes of sixth or better in each of the last five ACT championship events -- including back-to-back victories at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and Waterford Speedbowl -- and impressive results in the non-points Oxford 250 and Showdown 200 at Autodrome Chaudière.
Hoar says he is enjoying himself this season, not only working and winning with the RPM team, but racing against his main rival, Payea.
"Scott is a great guy, and I couldn't ask for a better driver to race against for the title," Hoar said. "My only regret about this year is that Jean isn't here [in the championship battle]. For all the titles we've both won, it seems like we've still never raced against each other for one. But I couldn't be more pleased with the way Scott races people. He's very smart and doesn't abuse his equipment. Some guys, like Brad Leighton and Patrick Laperle, those guys will risk it all to win. He's not that type of driver, and neither am I, typically, except for maybe Waterford this year. I see a lot of similarities between us as far as that goes. And I have a lot of respect for his team; his crew chief, Chris Companion, was my very first crew chief with our Goss Dodge team back in 1990 or '91, and his spotter, Ed, was a big part of our team. It's a great group of guys."
But, Hoar says, the pressure on Payea to win his first ACT championship -- versus what would be Hoar's sixth -- may be Hoar's biggest asset down the stretch. "I've won titles, and I've lost some really close battles," Hoar explains, "but at the end of the day, I've still got five championships. I'm not going to lose sleep if I don't win another one this year. Don't get me wrong, I want nothing more than to win my sixth ACT championship, but do I think the pressure to perform is greater on [Payea]? Yes, I do."
And because Hoar feels the pressure rests on Payea's shoulders, and those of third-place driver John Donahue, he'll be able to have more fun this weekend at Airborne and at the season finale at Oxford on October 11. "There is pressure on me, but there's definitely no more pressure than anyone else has on them. Those guys have to perform, too, and I'd rather be leading with two races to go than have to catch up. If I lose my focus, then that's my problem, but I don't see that happening. We're probably more prepared as a team for these next two races than anyone else. We can't wait for the 300 [at Airborne]. We had a blast there [in May], and I think we're ready for pit stops more than anyone else. And after our run at the 250, we're really looking forward to Oxford.
"The reality is that the chemistry with me and this team is there. I've had more fun racing this year than ever before, and that's whether we're at the track, or in the trailer on the way to a race, or on Tuesday nights when we're all in the shop together working on the car. I actually look forward to Tuesday nights more than anything.
"I wouldn't do this if I didn't think we could win."
(PHOTO: Brian Hoar gives a playful wink as he jokes with his RPM Motorsports teammates. Despite being in the middle of a tight championship battle, Hoar says he's having more fun racing this year than ever before. Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)