ACT Late Model Opener Not Very Kind to Leaders
ACT Late Model driver Mark Durgin climbed from his racecar after finishing 27th in Friday night’s Seacoast Late Model Challenge 100 at Lee USA Speedway (NH)  He ended up a total of 23 laps down after getting caught in an early wreck and threw out an old racing adage that was very simple, but also very fitting.

“To finish first,” Durgin observed.  “You must first finish.”
Among the cars on the sidelines at the finish were two drivers strong enough to win, Eddie MacDonald and Dave Wilcox.  Another driver who looked to be hard to beat were mired back further back in the top ten.  Defending champion Jena Paul Cyr got knocked around late in the race and found himself spinning from the lead to a finish of eighth.

It was a rough night to be a leader.  Then again, it was a rough night for most drivers regardless of where they were running.
Early on, MacDonald and Cyr were the cars to beat.  One driver might pull away on one restart, while the other one would pull away on a different restart.  Many times, they were side by side for most of the laps after a caution.  Eddie Mac stayed up high and Cyr stuck to the bottom.  It looked like the two might have a classic battle to the finish, but it wouldn’t happen for either driver.

MacDonald was the first one to start having a good night turn bad.  He got spun around by David Avery in turns three and four just past halfway.  He was able to stay on the lead lap, but his car just wasn’t the same.

“The car was pretty good early on,” said MacDonald.  “We were just riding around and trying to click off some laps.  It was a little too loose and I got a little high getting into one of the corners.  A car (Avery’s #10) got its nose into there and I got spun around.  Then I tried to catch back up, but it was pretty hard to get up there.  It was a wreckfest.”

So that put Cyr in command of the race…right?

Well, it did until he ran into problems of his own.  With less than 20 laps to go, it was his turn to get spun.  The bumper of Dave Wilcox’s #45 car is what sent Cyr around, but the real culprit might have been some Speedy Dry left down in turn one..

After wrecking, Mark Durgin had a simple observation.  (Norm Marx Photos)
“I guess I left myself a little vulnerable going into turn one,” said Cyr.  “I knew that was my weak spot on the track for the night.  On the restart, a car came down on me a little bit and I was just loose enough to go for a little bit of a ride.  Oh well.”

“I’m sure that it wasn’t intentional.  But that’s how I ended up going around.  It was a speed check kind of thing.  My car was just on edge enough and that was where it was the weakest for me.  He caught me at just the right spot and the tires were a little bit cold.  There was speedy dry down on the track too.”

“There was some Speedy Dry down there in turn two,” explained Wilcox.  “Jean got into it on the restart before and he spun.
Jean-Paul Cyr (#32) and Eddie MacDonald (#87) had the cars to beat early.  But MacDonald first got spun and later got caught in the middle of a big wreck, while Cyr got spun with a handful of laps to go.  Neither would end up with a trophy this week.
Cyr’s chances at victory was basically over at this point and Wilcox was now in the lead.  But that didn’t last for long.  On the next restart, Wilcox got tapped and hit the backstretch wall hard.  Once again, it was that darn speedy dry that started the trouble.

“I tried to tip toe through it that [Speedy Dry] the next time,” said Wilcox.  “The whole car skated up and the
That rang true for many drivers in the event where 60 teams showed up for the ACT season opener, 34 qualified for the feature and only about half of those were running at the end of 100 green flag laps.

Cris Michaud was the guy who managed to get the combination exactly right and ended the night with the winner's trophy.  Many others drivers and cars were capable of winning, but that part about finishing bit them near the end.
Michaud kept his #6 ahead of David Avery at the finish to win the ACT opener.
#10 of Avery got his nose under me.  We came out of there three wide and that didn’t work.  There wasn’t much I could do, I was just along for the ride.”

While all of this was going on, the #6 car of Cris Michaud was quietly waiting in the wings.  He had challenged Cyr in the last before all of the trouble, but held back far enough to keep his own nose clean.  So when the dust settled and there were only a few laps left, Michaud was in the perfect position to win.  He held on to do just that.

After the race, Michaud was a little disappointed that he couldn’t have had to opportunity to race Cyr in a head-to-head battle for the win, but he was thrilled with the victory regardless.

“Jean and I had a really good race going,” said Michaud.  “He’s a class act and I think him and the #45 got together on that restart.  It turned Jean a little bit and that was it for me and Jean – well for Jean anyways.”

And staying out of trouble wasn’t easy either.

“It was tough on the outside.  I felt that we had one of the best cars here and the outside was just really, really tough.  You had to really buckle down and pay attention to what you were doing.”

Avery dodged all the late race bullets to finish second, his best career ACT finish.  Rookie Scott Payea was third in his first ever ACT start.  Speed51.com caught up with all of those guys and will have more from them in our ACT leftovers later this week.

ACT Late Model Tour Finish
Seacoast Late Model Challenge 100

1.  Cris Michaud, Williamstown, VT, 100
2.  David Avery, Lincoln, NH, 100
3.  Scott Payea, Milton, VT, 100
4.  BJ Piekarski, Nashua, NH, 100
5.  Shawn Martin, Turner, ME, 100
6.  Brent Dragon, Milton, VT, 100
7.  Phil Scott, Montpelier, VT, 100
8.  Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton, VT, 100
9.  Dave Pembroke, Montpelier, VT, 100
10.  Mark Anzalone, Malden, MA, 100
11.   Jacob McGrath, N Clarenden, VT, 100
12.  Ryan Vanasse, RI, 100
13.  Jamie Fisher, Shelburne, VT, 100
14.  Mark Lamberton, Mooers Forks, NY, 98
15.  Joey Laquerre, E Montpelier, VT, 93
16.  Dave Wilcox, Swanton, VT, 86, Wreck
17.  Steve Fisher, Shelburne, VT, 86, Wreck
18.  Roger Brown, Lancaster, NH, 81, Wreck
19.  Ricky Wolf, Northwood, NH, 81, Suspension
20.  Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, MA, 81, A Frame
21.   Scott Watts, Seabrook, NH, 81, Wreck
22.   Jeff Labrecque, Rochester, NH, 81, Suspension
23.  Rich Lowrey, Charlotte, VT, 81, Suspension
24.  Ron Henry, New Gloucester, ME, 80, Wreck
25.  Bill Duggan, Belmont, NH, 79, Wreck
26.  Mark Durgin, Lynn, MA, 77, Running
27.  Eric Chase, Milton, VT, 68, Handling
28.  Joe Becker, Jeffersonville, VT, 61, Handling
29.  Mike Collins, Strafford, NH, 52, Handling
30.  Bryan Kruczek, Newmarket, NH, 37, Wreck
31.  Jeremy Harclerode, Newmarket, NH, 37, Heating
32.  Dennis Demers, Shelburne, VT, 37, Wreck
33.   Lew Fortin, Berwick, ME, 37, Wreck
34.  Keith Larmie, Barrington, NH, 0, Vibration