LOUDON, N.H. -- The American-Canadian Tour came one step closer on Thursday to finalizing its list of 36 drivers for next Saturday's inaugural ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The names of seven invitees for the event -- the first superspeedway race for Late Model cars in the northeast -- were added to an existing roster of 28 drivers from the ACT Late Model Tour, Série ACT-Castrol, a host of regional weekly short tracks, and winners of select qualifying events.
Guy Caron of Lempster, N.H. was extended an invite to compete in the race by ACT President Tom Curley at Twin State Speedway last Friday after wrapping up that track's 2009 championship; Caron's name officially appeared on the NHMS roster with Thursday's announcement.
Similiarly, Travis Adams of Canton, Me. was given official notice of his invitation to compete on Thursday after clinching his fourth consecutive championship at Oxford Plains Speedway last Saturday night.
Wayne Helliwell, Jr. of Dracut, Mass. will represent Lee USA (N.H.) Speedway in the event, as he currenlty holds a probable -- although mathematically beatable -- lock on that track's Late Model title with two events remaining. Bryan Kruczek of Newmarket, N.H. is the only driver with a chance to overtake Helliwell for the title.
Three drivers from Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl in Barre and one driver from the ACT Late Model Tour were extended "at-large" invites to NHMS. From Thunder Road come three-time champion Cris Michaud of Northfield, sophomore Barre racer Nick Sweet, and East Montpelier veteran Joey Laquerre, who, at 66 years old, is the track's all-time victory leader. Glen Luce of Turner, Me. was extended an invitation from the ACT Late Model Tour.
One spot in the advertised 36-car field remains to be filled, and is being held open for the soon-to-be-named track champion at White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, N.H. The championship battle will be decided on Friday, Sept. 18 -- less than 24 hours before the ACT Invitational at NHMS -- between Quinny Welch of Lancaster, N.H. and Stacy Cahoon of St. Johnsbury, Vt. Only six points seperate them entering the finale.
"This has been a whole lot more difficult than I had anticipated," Curley said in an ACT press release of the driver selection process for the Invitational. "I have had a 'short list' sitting on my desk and traveling with me for over a week. The toughest part of this process was trying to find reasons not to invite any of the teams I had put on the list. I started looking for reasons why to invite the final teams. The final 36 teams will make some history for Late Model racing. It is my hope that others will get an opportunity to race at NHMS in the future because of their efforts."
If Kruczek does take the championship from Helliwell, or should a driver not yet invited to NHMS win Sunday's Fall Foliage 300 at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y., the final NHMS qualifying event, Curley said spots may be added to the starting field at NHMS on Sept. 19. "I guess we would have to consider a change in the format and add [Kruczek's] name," Curley said. "Bryan did a great job at the test and I would not have a second thought about adding him if we found ourselves in that situation. I just think it is only fair to let the Helliwell team know they are in, so they can prepare for the NHMS experience while still chasing the title.
"Actually, we are taking a bit of a gamble by making these announcements before this weekend’s Fall Foliage 300 at Airborne," Curley continued. "If we had a surprise winner who could be approved, I guess we would have to look at that in the same way. Like I said earlier, this has been a whole lot more difficult than I had originally envisioned."