ACT LATE MODELS: WHITE MOUNTAIN LEFTOVERS by Justin St. Louis
Cyr, Payea, Dragon, Brown and Many More Driver Tales
CYR DOMINATES AT WMMP
considerably smooth sailing compared to his previous outings this season. At Lee USA Speedway in May, Brown's car went home in a basket. At the Memorial Day Classic at Vermont's Thunder Road (a non-points ACT race), Brown had more than his share of cosmetic damage. A couple of tires marks were Brown's #99 car sustained, his team is confident heading into! Canaan Fair Speedway in two weeks.
"I love Canaan, I won a Tiger Series race down there a few years ago,” said Brown. “We went down there with the Late Model for the first time this spring and tested, and we were wicked fast. I want to win that race."
AS CYR TAKES CARE OF BUSINESS OUT FRONT, THE ACTION HEATS UP BEHIND HIM
The battles from second place through the rest of the field were hot and heavy all race long. Piekarski, Pembroke, Roger Brown, Brent Dragon, and Cooper MacRitchie traded positions nearly every lap. Payea, Patrick Laperle, A.J. Begin, and Eric Williams later joined the fray, and made the race very entertaining. Behind them, Mark Durgin, Kenny Dufour, Mark Lamberton, Shawn Martin, Eric Chase - heck, everyone! - ran side-by-side every lap.
In fact, no driver finished in the same position they started, and only one driver, Trampas Demers, finished within one spot (24th) of his starting position (25th), and that was after losing a radiator on lap 47 while running in the mid-teens.
"PLUS/MINUS" HANDICAP SYSTEM PUTS PIEKARSKI ON POLE
After driving from seventh to second in his heat race, B.J. Piekarski earned the pole at White Mountain with a "+5" rating. The 2004 ACT Rookie of the Year led for 19 laps before falling back in the Top 10 on the tough outside lane, but crept back into contention late in the going.
"This is awesome," said the 22 year-old Payea. "We just keep going better and better and better."
In three starts during the infancy of his ACT Late Model Tour career, Payea's worst finish is fourth. Many feel he could easily take his first win at any time.
"I told him on the last restart with 23 to go that all he had to do was chase down Cyr," said Payea's spotter Ed Companion. "Scott said 'Yeah, I'll get right on that."
Jean-Paul Cyr is a four-time American-Canadian Tour champion, and is looking for his third consecutive title this season. Cyr was also looking for his third consecutive win in the Country Pools, Spas, & Billiards 100 at New Hampshire's picturesque White Mountain Motorsports Park. He got it.
"We really seem to rack 'em up pretty well here," Cyr said in Victory Lane. "I love this place; I love racing here, the fans are awesome, it's just a good time every time we're here."
Cyr drove his Ehler's RV/Sticks & Stuff Chevrolet into the winner's circle after surviving nine restarts and a late charge by rookie Scott Payea. Running the final 23 laps under green, Cyr was able to pull ahead and earn his 13th career ACT Late Model Tour win. After three events, Cyr is tied for third in points with Scott Payea, just 29 markers behind leader Dave Pembroke.
ROOKIE SCOTT PAYEA... THE NEW GOLDENBOY OF NEW ENGLAND?
As has become customary in 2005, second-place finisher Scott Payea left mouths wide open at White Mountain. From 15th at the start, the rookie picked off positions steadily throughout the race, and finished second behind Cyr.
in his heat race, and was put in the wall by a spinning Bill Duggan just a handful of laps later. After his crew replaced the entire right-front corner of the Team V Transportation Chevrolet, Vanasse was dumped in the closing laps of the "B" feature, and failed to qualify.
"This is just not our year," said Vanasse. "It's like we've got a target painted on us."
Scott Payea's #89 ride (Justin St. Louis Photos)
DRAGON OUTLASTS TOUGH HIGH GROOVE
Many veteran observers feel that 2005 is Brent Dragon's year to finally unseat Jean-Paul Cyr and win the ACT Late Model Tour crown. Dragon's 2005 results have been stellar - sixth, second, and now a third at White Mountain. He is ranked second in points, 24 markers behind Pembroke, and 5 ahead of Cyr and Payea. While he looked strong during the event, Dragon felt he drove too hard too early.
Payea thought he could have made a run at Cyr's lead, but ran out of laps.
"I tried to run the 32 down, but I don't think I would have got him," said Payea. "The outside was bad, and we were out there for almost every restart. If hadn't got in front of Brent (third-place finisher Brent Dragon) at the end! there, we wouldn't have finished as well. I just took what I could get. We're a rookie team and we're doing this well, it's amazing to me."
ACT veteran Dragon has high praise for Payea.
"He's a good, good racer, and he does what he needs to do,” said Dragon. “He keeps himself in a safe position, keeps his nose clean, and he doesn't bother anybody. I like racing with him, and I think everyone else does, too."
Payea's car was spotless in Victory Lane following the 100-lap event, but by the time it reached the tech area, things had changed. The car would not refire following post-race ceremonies, and a push truck was needed. Unfortunately, the push truck did a fair amount of damage to the rear bumper of Payea's #89 car.
"Figures," Payea laughed. "The best race of my life and the tow truck wrecks me after it's over."
ROCKETMAN HAS EVENTFUL RACE
A handful of drivers - none more than "Rocket" Roger Brown - were freight trained on the outside lane as Pete Fecteau drove his lapped car out of the pits and onto the track directly in front of the leaders on lap 44.
"NEW" ACT DRIVERS HAVE MIXED RESULTS
During the off-season, the American-Canadian Tour saw the biggest influx of new teams in its 14-year history. White Mountain Motorsports Park was kind to some, not so to others. "Lightning" Lew Fortin, a former Beech Ridge Motor Speedway regular from Berwick, ME, took the win in the first qualifying heat.
"This is the most fun we've ever had!" said Fortin after his heat win.
Lynn, MA driver and Lee USA Speedway refugee Mark Durgin had a solid outing in his heat race, and transferred into the feature, finishing a stout 11th. Oxford Plains Speedway Champion Shawn Martin of Turner, ME had an exciting run in the outside lane of his consolation race to steal the final qualifying spot, then marched his way through the pack in the 100-lap main event to grab his second Top 10 of the year.
At the opposite end of the spectrum was Warwick, RI's Ryan Vanasse, a former Seekonk Speedway racer. Vanasse was literally run over and effectively out of the lead by Joey Laquerre
Brown's #99 looked a lot better before the race than after it.
Stuck behind Fecteau, Brown dropped from second place all the way back to 13th, but battled back to finish fifth, nipping Dave Pembroke at the line.
"The 75 (Fecteau) coming out of the pits screwed me bad... bad... bad. Real bad,” said Brown. “I was as fast as Jean, I'm not sure I could have beaten him, but we would have had a shot."
The Fecteau incident notwithstanding, Brown's outing at White Mountain was
Piekarski was running a solid fourth on lap 77 when he was turned around, cutting the left-rear tire on his Collision Centers on NH/Toyota of Nashua machine.
"The spotter told me I was clear, and I thought I was, so I went down,” said Piekarski. “I don’t know, maybe I should have waited. The car was actually getting better every lap, and it was good even after we changed the tire. We had a good run go bad, oh well." Piekarski recovered to finish 12th on the lead lap.
"I really raced the crap out of the car in the beginning of the race," he said. "We were stuck outside all night long, and I was just trying to get in line and go forward. I burned the car up early, and I'm glad things worked out on the last restart and I got to keep third. Regardless, we had a good run, and I'm ready for the next race."
A.J. BEGIN TAKES FIRST ACT TOP FIVE FINISH
Merrimac, MA racer A.J. Begin made his ACT debut at Riverside Speedway in 2004, and was among the fastest cars before being swept up in a mid-race crash. Later in the year, he raced with the Tour at White Mountain, finishing an impressive sixth. In his first start of 2005 at White Mountain, Begin took fourth place.
"We were very confident coming in, and we had a great run," said Begin. "We have a great car, and we like running this Tour. Everyone here is a class act. When we showed up at Lee, we didn't get to race, and I still got a $50 check. Stuff like that really makes you want to keep coming back."
Begin says he plans to run most of the remainder of the ACT schedule, that is, when he's not spending time
remodeling his house, raising his three year-old child, or working his full-time job as a technician at Hillcrest Chevrolet, his team's main sponsor.
"We've been running a wood stove the last two winters, and that's no good,” said Begin of his home. “We've got the beams and posts up in the new parts of the house, and now we're in the process of running some real heat to them. I'm as excited about the house as I am about the racing this year!"