Saturday, September 5, 2009

Scott Wrecks, Dragon Wins at Twin State

CLAREMONT, N.H. -- It's been eight years, 11 months, and four days since Phil Scott won an ACT Late Model Tour race. And unfortunately for Scott, that time will extend for at least one more day. The Vermont State Senator and former ACT champion was practically a shoo-in to end the dry spell at Twin State Speedway in Claremont, N.H. on Friday night before a pair of late-race incidents, both involving number-four point driver Randy Potter, effectively ended Scott's night.

Scott led every step of the Twin State 100 from the pole position, navigating lapped traffic with ease, before a lap 70 caution brought second-place runner Brent Dragon to Scott's tail for a restart. The yellow caution flag flew for Guy Caron, who after some tight, sometimes physical racing with Potter, was dumped off the backstretch by Potter by into the infield.

With Dragon pressuring Scott for the lead a dozen laps later, Potter spun just before Turn 1, coming to rest with the front half of his car on the racing surface. Potter got his stalled car refired in time to move out of the way as the leaders approched, but in a brief instant, the yellow flag flew just as Potter inexplicably drove out onto the track directly into their path. Scott jammed on his brakes and drove to the high side in an attempt to avoid, but collided hard with Potter and spun into the wall; Dragon got by unscathed on the inside.

Despite heavy cosmetic damage, Scott refired his car on his own, but was placed at the rear of the field for the restart with Potter. It was then smooth sailing for Dragon, who held off John Donahue through that restart and another final one on lap 93 for the win.

Scott was obviously disappointed with the wreck. "I guess I could have paid attention [to what Potter was doing] more. I saw him coming out, I just thought he was going to stay there," Scott said. "I did what I thought was right, and usually a car that's spun on the inside usually comes down and stays low, it doesn't cross the track. I don't know if he didn't see how quickly we were coming."

Potter left the pit area almost immediately after the race concluded and was unavailable for comment.

Scott was also frustrated with the call made by race director Tom Curley to place him at the rear of the field for the lap 82 restart, thinking that the caution flag flew for Potter before the accident. Scott fell off the pace at the restart until debris cleared itself away from the right-front tire of his car under the green flag. "As it turned out, I don't know as we could have held on to the lead anyhow, but I wasn't happy with [the call]," Scott said. "But you know, you make the calls as you see them, and obviously [Curley] was throwing the yellow for [Potter]. And [Curley] was letting some cars spin and stay there [until they refired during other incidents in the race], so it's not like it was anything directed at me, but sometimes, you know, it's tough to take."

Prior to the lap 82 wreck, Dragon had several chances to force his way into the lead past Scott, both on the inside and outside lanes. In fact, Dragon was just under Scott's car at the time of the accident.

"I think I could have beat Phil. We were pressuring him pretty good, and it's too bad he got wrecked," Dragon said. "He was so tight in the middle of the corner, and I could have drove up underneath him. Even on the straightaway there was a couple times I had my nose in there. And I had him outside, too, but I really wanted to go underneath him and just beat him on the straightaway nice and clean, because I knew once I got all the way beside he'd just let me go. It would have been interesting, it would have been fun."

Scott saw it differently, thinking he had the car to beat. "I was just being very, very careful trying to protect the bottom when we had that restart [on lap 70] with the lapped car on the outside," he said. "I didn't want to slip up into him and I didn't want to have Brent dive underneath me, so I was just biding my time a little bit, protecting the bottom. Once I got out and started hitting my marks again, I don't know as Brent could have caught us. We had a very stout car. We'll try [Sunday at Thunder Road] to go out and win that race."

For Dragon, the win was his third of 2009, but his first victory of the year on the ACT Late Model Tour. He won a pair of events in Canada prior to the Twin State 100 -- the Coors Light 200 Showdown all-star event at Autodrome Chaudière last Sunday, and a Série ACT-Castrol event at Riverside Speedway in Ste-Croix, Qué. in June. Dragon joked that he was relieved to finally be able to put an end to the season-long ribbing he's taken from friends and competitors that he couldn't win a race in the United States.

"This is our first win in the States this year, so I guess I can be a U.S. citizen again," Dragon laughed. "Everybody's been beating on me about being a Canadian all year."

ACT Late Model Tour point leader Scott Payea had a quiet, but impressive drive from 19th starting position to finish in third place. The finish was his sixth third-place effort of the year, coupled with a win at Airborne Speedway in May. Rookie Joey Doiron, 17, finished an ACT career-best fourth, with Brian Hoar, Payea's chief rival for the championship, in fifth place. Daniel Descoste finished a career-best sixth, in front of Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Ben Rowe, and Twin State Speedway regulars Aaron Fellows and Dallas Trombley.

Unofficially, Payea maintained a narrow five-point lead over Hoar entering Sunday's Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 at Thunder Road in Barre.

ACT Late Model Tour -- Twin State Speedway, Claremont, N.H.
Friday, Sept. 4, 2009

Pos.-Driver-Hometown (# - indicates rookie)

1. Brent Dragon, Milton
2. John Donahue, Graniteville
3. Scott Payea, Milton
4. #Joey Doiron, Berwick, Me.
5. Brian Hoar, Williston
6. Daniel Descoste, St-Joseph-du-Lac, Qué.
7. Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, N.H.
8. Ben Rowe, Turner, Me.
9. Aaron Fellows, Croydon, N.H.
10. Dallas Trombley, Rutland
11. Stéphane Descoste, Oka, Qué.
12. Randy Potter, Groveton, N.H.
13. Darrell Keane, Springfield, Mass.
14. Phil Scott, Montpelier
15. Chris Riendeau, Ascutney
16. Tyler Cahoon, St. Johnsbury
17. Jamie Fisher, Shelburne
18. Todd Davis, Claremont, N.H.
19. Pete Potvin, III, Graniteville
20. Marc Palmisano, Hadley, Mass.
21. Chip Grenier, Graniteville
22. Bryan Town, Charlestown, N.H.
23. Chris Bergeron, Claremont, N.H.
24. Mark Hayward, Unity, N.H.
25. Punky Caron, Goshen, N.H.
26. Guy Caron, Lempster, N.H.
27. Eric Williams, Hyde Park
28. Dennis Stange, Athol, Mass.
29. Ricky Rolfe, Albany Twp., Me.
30. Glen Luce, Turner, Me.

(PHOTOS: 1. Bretn Dragon waves to the crowd after his victory in the Twin State 100; 2. Phil Scott's car became a mangled mess after a lap 82 crash while Scott was leading. Photos by Justin St. Louis/VMM)

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