THIS TIME, LAPERLE MAKES IT LOOK EASY by Justin St. Louis
Bad Luck Of The Past Is Gone In Fall Foliage Race
Something always happens to me here," sighed Canadian racer Patrick Laperle at Airborne Speedway on late Sunday afternoon.
"Brian Hoar thought it was me that put him in the wall," Laperle recounted. Hoar, laps down and upset that the crash may have cost him the ACT title (it didn't), looked to retaliate when the stakes were high. "On the last lap in Turn 4," Laperle continued, "he ran me high in the grass and I ran into Allard and hit the wall. It was like last week at Barre."
The finish Laperle refers to last week was a three-wide battle at Barre, VT's Thunder Road, where he, Dave Pembroke and Phil Scott crossed the line inches apart for third, fourth, and fifth place.
The 2005 Foliage win was a little easier than Thunder Road last week and certainly a lot easier than the win six years ago. After making his way from the 12th starting position, Laperle drove under polesitter and leader Steve Fisher on the backstretch on lap 63 to take command. He never gave up the top spot.
"On the long runs, the car was awesome. I won here this summer, but I think the car was much better this time."
Once he was out front, Laperle quickly ran into lapped traffic, and that worried him.
"In traffic, Jacob McGrath was in front of me, and I was like 'Oh man, he's gonna screw me or something,' but he held his line just perfect. All the lapped cars were good with me, and I'm pretty happy with that."
A series of late-race restarts, including one with four laps remaining, brought the challenges of 2004 Furniture
Patrick Laperle (#91) makes the winning pass of Steve Fisher (#24) on lap 63. (Leif Tillotson photo)
...And Jean Paul Cyr didn't disappoint by winning the 100 lapper.
Laperle was right, something always does seem to happen to him at Airborne. Sometimes it's a wrecker hauling his car to the pits. Sometimes, it's the flagman handing him the checkers at the end of a race. Sometimes it's both.
On Sunday, Laperle was celebrating his second Airborne win of the season and third victory of 2005, not to mention his second career win in the American-Canadian Tour's Furniture World of Vermont Fall Foliage 150, one the most prestigious and tradition-rich events on the ACT schedule. Past winners of the Fall Foliage event include short track stars Bobby Beaver, Brent Dragon, Robbie Crouch, Butch Lindley, Junior Hanley, Brad Leighton, Brian Hoar and Jean-Paul Cyr.
In 1999, Laperle scored the Fall Foliage win in a wall-banging, metal-scraping thriller, crashing across the finish line inches ahead of fellow countryman Karl Allard, Vermonter Eric Williams, and multi-time ACT Champion Hoar. Early in the race, Hoar was in contention for the win when he was wrecked by another driver, whom he mistakenly thought was Laperle.
World of Vermont Fall Foliage 150 winner and three-time Airborne track champion Brent Dragon.
"Brent took a shot at me on the last couple of restarts," said Laperle, "but his car wasn't working on the outside at the end. Just after the last green flag my car was both loose and pushing, and I said 'man, Dragon's gonna pass me,' but I kept him behind me and won the thing."
Patrick Laperle was on cloud nine this past weekend. (51 Photo)
like racing with Patrick, he's a good little racer. A lot of people have had some rough times with him, but he and I seem to get along and he ran very clean."
Behind Laperle and Dragon, Pembroke and Dragon's uncle, Bobby, had a slugfest for third place, which eventually went in Pembroke's favor. Bobby Dragon, racing in a one-shot deal for Bill Sawyer, finished fourth after making a great save on lap 67. Dragon's car momentarily slid off the backstretch, then came back onto the racing surface broadside in front of traffic. Dragon lost just a single position during the fracas.
ACT point leader Jean-Paul Cyr finished fifth. Rounding out the Top 10 in order were Eric Williams, Rich Lowrey, Steve Fisher, Roger Brown, and Jamie Fisher.
Stay tuned to Speed51.com for a heaping helping of Leftovers this week.
While Dragon was strong, he thinks a new coat of asphalt may have hurt his chances. "
There isn't the outside lane that there used to be here," he said. "They paved the inside of 3 and 4, and it's given it a lot more bite on the bottom. A year ago with four laps to go, I would have been able to beat Patrick. You can get so much momentum up high, and it was rougher on the bottom and you'd have to check up, but now you can just come off there wide open."
"If I could have been ahead of him just enough to pinch him a little bit I probably would have had a chance, but Patrick isn't an easy one to get ahead of. It was fun and I
Laperle carries the Furniture World of Vermont Fall Foliage 150 checkers. (Leif Tillotson photo)