CYR UNCONTESTED WINNER OF OXFORD ACT RACE by Justin St. Louis
Defending Champ Stays Out Frotn All Race Long
Jean-Paul Cyr has done almost everything there is to do in American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model racing. Everything, that is, except win his fifth championship title.
Should Cyr continue in the manner he has in 2005, that should be no problem. At the Maine-ly Action Sports 100 at Oxford Plains (ME) Speedway Saturday night, the Milton, VT driver earned the pole position after grabbing a "+5" handicap rating in preliminary qualifying heats, and led every lap of the main event to record his second win in five events. It was the 14th triumph of his career, and his first victory at the historic 3/8-mile Oxford oval.
In fact, Cyr was involved in a pileup on the fifth lap of the race, and narrowly escaped major damage. Avon, MA driver Shawn Parker spun in Turn 2, coming to rest in the middle of the racing surface but behind a light pole and sand pile where race control could not see him. With no yellow flag thrown, the leaders came to Parker at full steam. Fortunately for Cyr, outside polesitter Eric Chase tagged the rear of Cyr's car, spinning him out of harm's way. Unfortunately for Chase, though, his Gary Clay Builders/Chicken Charlie's Chevrolet plowed Parker's machine, rupturing Parker's fuel cell, tearing the fuel pump off of his own car, and sparking a brief, but massive fire. Oxford Plains Speedway Champion and former ACT event winner Shawn Martin was also collected, but all three drivers escaped serious injury. It was the first of twelve caution periods.
As green flag racing resumed, Cyr held off the challenges of Phil Scott and Ron Henry early, and fended off Scott's repeated attempts at taking the lead in lapped traffic. Behind them, a healthy mix of ACT Late Model Tour regulars and weekly Oxford drivers kept the Top 10 battles entertaining. As Scott began to fade, "Rocket" Roger Brown, and Boothbay, ME's Steve Reny (from 28th) put up the biggest fight for Cyr.
As Cyr and Brown fought for the lead on lap 93, Reny and #4 ACT point man Brent Dragon battled for third place. Whether Reny cut down on Dragon's right-front corner, or whether Dragon flat-out dumped Reny, Reny's car spun down the frontstretch. Dragon was sent to the rear of the field with Reny under the yellow flag.
Unhappy with the call by ACT officials, Dragon promptly pulled his Kinney Drugs Dodge into the pits and retired from the race. He was unavailable for comment. Reny would recover to cross the finish line in 14th place, minus the left-rear bumper cover and quarter panel.
Cyr talks about his win.
"It's not as rewarding when you lead every lap from the pole," Cyr said, "but we did lead every lap, and we did earn the pole by passing a lot of cars in the heat race. I prefer to come up through the field in the race and win them that way, but a win is a win, and I'm happy with it. Plus, we finally got one here at Oxford."
At first, the Maine-ly Action Sports 100 sounds like a real snoozer. Not so.
"It wasn't boring from where I was watching, I'll tell you that," Cyr quickly assured.
Cyr held off Brown during the final restart and cruised to the win. The Dragon/Reny situation made for a bit of an early Christmas for fifth-place runner and former championship contender Jamie Fisher, who has struggled in 2005. Fisher would be the benefactor of the incident and finish in third place, far and away his best effort of the season. Billy Childs, Jr. was the top-finishing Oxford regular, recovering from two spins to finish in fourth place. Dave Wilcox took his second Top 5 finish of 2005 behind Childs. Rounding out the Top 10 in order were Lee USA Speedway regular Mike Collins, Oxford driver Doug Coombs, ACT regular Kenny Dufour, leading ACT rookie Scott Payea, and Charlotte, VT's Rich Lowrey.
The finish of the Maine-ly Action Sports 100 has been ruled unofficial, pending an in-depth technical inspection of Roger Brown and Jamie Fisher's shocks. According to Brown, his team was running one of two Koni shocks left over from their 2004 season inventory. While the part numbers were identical to those required under ACT's 2005 Koni shock rule, the construction of the 2005 Konis had changed slightly in the off-season.
"We figured the part number was the same, and we were legal," he said. "I think they'll find a lot of teams with these shocks if they look. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what they say."
Stay tuned to Speed51.com in the coming days for more.
Jean-Paul Cyr in victory lane at Oxford. (Oxford Plains Speedway Photos)