Trackside Now: ACT at Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl
Scott Payea Takes First Career ACT Victory
Sunday 11:45am - Any New Englander will tell you, just because the calendar says May, doesn't mean it's spring. Today at Thunder Road (VT), it's weather reminiscent of late fall. The sun's shining, but the temps are in the 40s and there's a stiff wind coming off the surrounding mountains making it feel far colder.
That doesn't mean the action will be any less intense here at Thunder Road, however. The second round of the 2007 American-Canadian Tour (ACT) season takes place here later this afternoon, the Merchants Bank 150.
Speed51.com's preliminary head count of the ACT cars in attendance came up with a number of 41, but that, of course, is an unofficial count. Series officials won't have the total number of cars until practice wraps up. The series does not utilize a transponder system, so practice times will not be readily available, but we'll have all the info we can dig up throughout the day.
Already in practice there was a rather spectacular incident, when Dave Wilcox and Donald Theetge collided off the fourth turn at the tight third-mile track. Theetge's car caught air and both cars slid to a stop in turn one. Theetge drove his car back to the pit area, but Wilcox's car had to be towed. It was the second time in two days that Wilcox was involved in an incident, as he was involved in an incident with Steve Fisher and Pete Fecteau in practice here yesterday. The team worked through the night to get the machine repaired and now they'll have to do it all over again.
Practice is ongoing until 1pm, when the track will sit quiet while every team from every division in attendance here at Thunder Road push their cars onto the track for "Class Day," a Thunder Road tradition. We'll have more on "Class Day" in a bit.
The ACT Late Model field will be set by four heats. Four cars will transfer to the 150-lap feature from each heat. Three cars will transfer out of a consolation race, while two drivers will make the show through a B-Main. There will be three provisionals awarded based on last year's points.
We'll have all kinds of news throughout the day, including tidbits from the Canadian contingent, the former Busch North/East Series competitors who have switched their focus to ACT Late Model racing and more.
Donald Theetge catches some air after making contact with David Wilcox's #61. (51 Photos)
Multiple-time ACT titlist Jean-Paul Cyr
Sunday 1:00pm - It wouldn't be a big event at Thunder Road without Ken Squier. The legendary motorsports broadcaster is in attendance at the track that he has been an owner of for decades. Squier will be in the PA booth throughout the day to help call all the action for the packed crowd in attendance.
Practice has wrapped up here at Thunder Road. No further incidents occurred after the initial wreck we told you about earlier. Teams are assembling on the racetrack for their "Class Day" ceremonies.
Sunday 12:34am - In walking through the pit area during practice, Thunder Road's close proximity to the Canadian border and the influx of Canadian racers in Late Model racing is quite apparent. In walking down one row of cars, all kinds of regional dialects could be overheard. Donald Theetge's team were shouting instructions to one another in French as the Quebec-based team repaired their car from the early practice session. Just a car away, Brian Hoar's team were the locals, from nearby Williston, speaking a thick Northern New England accent. Then nearby is Ryan Vanasse's team from Rhode Island is joking around in a Bostonian accent.
Ken Squier (right) looks over some old record albums with a fan in the pit area.
Sunday 1:20pm - Here's a list of the cars entered here at Thunder Road.
02 Randy Potter
05 Ron Henry
10 David Avery
11 Claude Leclerc
11 Ryan Vanasse
13 Jamie Aube
14 Phil Scott
16 Joey Becker
18 Jamie Fisher
2 Tracie Bellerose
21 Oren Reinick
24 Eric Fisher
26 John Donahue
27 Marc Curtis, Jr.
28 Dwayne Lanphear
31 Shawn Fleury
32 Jean-Paul Cyr
40 Eric Chase
44 David Pembroke
46 David Chagnon
5 Marcel Gravel
50 Joey Laquierre
55 Brent Dragon
6 Chris Michaud
61 David Wilcox
7 Eric Wilkins
70 Scott Dragon
77 Jimmy Linardi
78 Ryan Nolin
8 Rich Lowery
80 Donald Theetge
85 Trampas Demers
86 Dennis Demers
87 Cal Paulin
89 Scott Payea
9 Chip Grenier
97 Joey Polewarczyk
99 Rorger Brown
Sunday 1:37pm - "Class Day" activities have wrapped up on the track. For those who have never been to Thunder Road (side note - go there some day, it's a great, fun facility), every year at the first race of the season, every car in all of the track's weekly divisions in addition to the ACT Late Models line up on the track surface and infield. The drivers stand by their cars while the teams line the turns and backstretch. Each team waves a "battle flag" which promotes their driver and car number. The on-track ceremony honors last year's champions and their battle flags from last year are hung at the track for all to see for the entire year.
After Ken Squier announced the Class of 2007, the cars began rolling back to the pit area and ACT heats will begin shortly.
The Thunder Road class of 2007 poses in front of the picturesque backdrop of the track's surrounding mountains.
Sunday 2:10pm - Pete Fecteau showed the way in the fourth and final heat race. Marcel Gravel, in his sophomore ACT season, finished a close second, while Jean-Paul Cyr and Marc Curtis, Jr. of Massachusetts were the final to transfer.
If your favorite driver was not listed, he or she will have to transfer through the consolation events later in the afternoon to make up the final 14 starting spots to make 30. Weekly division heats are on track now and the consi will follow shortly thereafter.
Sunday 2:00pm - David Avery beat Ron Henry to the line for the win in the third of four heat races. Joey Becker and Dave Whitcomb rounded out the top-four to transfer.
Sunday 1:51pm - Scott Payea (pronounced PAY-yay) won the second heat race. Mike Bailey put up a fight for the win, but had to settle for second. Phil Scott was third and Trampas Demers was the final tranferring driver from heat number-two.
Sunday 1:48pm - Chip Grenier led green-to-checkered in the first of three heat races to earn a transfer spot to the feature. Eric Williams finished second, Roger Brown was third and Brian Hoar narrowly beat out Joey Pole for the fourth and final transfer spot.
Sunday 2:52pm - It seems as if you can name someone that competed regularly on the NASCAR Busch North/East Series in the last few years that no longer competes on the "new look"' BES these days, they were probably either at the PASS North event like we told you about yesterday on Trackside Now from Beech Ridge or here at Thunder Road for the ACT event. Last night, Dave Dion, Kelly Moore and Dale Shaw were all in attendance and running up front. Today, Brian Hoar, Jamie Aube and Dennis Demers are all fast so far. Kip Stockwell, who plans to compete on the ACT tour this year, is walking around the pit area here at Thunder Road, the site of his first and only Busch North victory in 1996.
Also making a return to the ACT ranks is Tracie Bellerose. Bellerose took a few years off from ACT competition, but she's back with an eye for victory. She was not able to transfer into the feature from her heat, but the team has been hard at work to improve the #2 machine for the consi.
Brian Hoar is back ACT Late Model racing after taking a few years away from ACT to run well in Busch North/East.
Sunday 4:01pm - Provisionals for today's Merchants Bank 150 ACT Late Model race went to one Thunder Road regular and two ACT competitors who did not make the show through their heats and consis. The Thunder Road provisional went to Jamie Fisher. Cal Poulin was the driver in position on track to get that starting spot, but just a few laps short of the finish, Poulin spun Fisher. Officials pelanized Poulin from the feature starting lineup and gave the spot to Fisher.
Last week's ACT winner at Oxford Randy Potter relied on the ACT provisional to make today's race. The other ACT provisional went to Ryan Nolin, who came one spot short of transferring in the consi.
The Street Stocks are on track now for their feature, which will be followed by a brief intermission and then the 150-lap ACT Late Model feature.
Sunday 3:39pm - The final two transfer spots into the 150-lap ACT Late Model feature have been set through the 25-lap B Main. They go to Scott Dragon and Jay Laquerre. The first driver not to make the show through the heats and consis was Ryan Nolin. Also missing the show was last week's winner Randy Potter. There are still three provisionals available and we'll tell you who they go to as soon as ACT officials tabulate the info.
Sunday 3:12pm - The third and final consi has taken the checkered flag and Brent Dragon led Tracie Bellerose and Cris Michaud to the line to round out tonight's starting lineup, with the exception of the two that transfer through the last-chance race later this afternoon.
Among the notables not yet to qualify for tonight's 150-lap feature is the winner of the ACT season opener at Oxford Randy Potter, along with Ryan Vanasse, Joey and Jay Laquerre, Claude Leclerc, Ryan Nolin and Dennis Demers.
Sunday 3:02pm - Consolation race two is under wraps and Dwayne Lanphear showed the way to the checkered flag . Dave Pembroke finished second and John Donahue nabbed the last transfer spot.
Sunday 2:56pm - The first 12-lap consolation race is now complete and making the transfer spots were Jamie Aube, Joey Pole and Shawn Fleury.
Scott Dragon won the B Main to transfer to the main event.
Sunday 5:50pm - Scott Payea wins first career ACT race! Stay tuned for more.
Sunday 5:42pm - Claude Leclerc spins again on lap 134 for a caution. It's Payea in command in front of Ron Henry and Cyr.
Sunday 5:32pm - Scott Payea loves the high side here at Thunder Road. He took the lead from Cyr on lap 91 on the top groove and has checked out from the six-time champ.
Sunday 5:28pm - Jean-Paul Cyr continues to lead on lap 89 under caution. The yellow came out for the spun car of Claude Leclerc. Leclerc, who was several laps down, was holding up lead-lap cars that all got involved including Jamie Aube and Joey Becker, who were running in the top-10 at the time.
Scott Payea runs second after losing several spots just a few laps earlier. Payea has been flying on the high side of the track to make his way back up to second. Demers runs third, Ron Henry is fourth, Pete Fecteau is fifth and Brian Hoar is sixth.
Sunday 5:16pm - Jean-Paul Cyr used the outside lane on the lap 50 restart to his advantage to take the lead on lap 51 from Trampas Demers.
Sunday 5:11pm - Caution number three is out on lap 51 for the #50 of Jay Laquierre that has slapped the turn-four wall. Trampas Demers still shows the way, but guess who lurks there behind him? None other than six-time ACT champion Jean-Paul Cyr. Cyr worked up to second on lap 30 and has been following in Demers' tire tracks ever since. It's Demers, Cyr, Payea, Becker and Dragon.
Sunday 5:01pm - The first caution flag of the day has flown on lap 35 for the spun car of Marc Curtis, Jr. Curtis had been running in the top-five, but his spin will relegate him to deep in the field when the race goes back green. Shawn Fleury spun to avoid the melee and will resume the race at the tail end of the field. The top five are Trampas Demers, Joey Becker, Jean-Paul Cyr, Scott Payea and Marcel Gravel.
Shortly after the restart, Joey Pole spun off turn two on lap 38 to bring the yellow back out. The top-five remains the same.
Sunday 4:51pm - The green flag is out and Trampas Demers has the early lead over Marc Curtis, Jr. and Joey Becker. The top-10 are single file, but behind them there's double and triple-file racing all around the track.
Sunday 4:44pm - The ACT cars are lining up on the back pit area ready to hit the track for the 150-lap feature. The Street Stock feature has just wrapped up and Bruce Melendy climbed out of his car victorious and had the opportunity to speak with Ken Squier in victory lane. A whopping 39 cars took the green flag in the Street Stock feature.
The ACT race will actually have 32 starters, not the originally intended 30. The #80 machine of Donald Theetge gets into the show based on his participation in the Castrol ACT Late Model Series in Quebec, which has yet to start its season. The #11 of Claude Leclerc will start scratch on the field. Leclerc was supposed to start up front in his heat race, but due to a handicapping error by ACT officials, he started deeper in his heat than he was supposed to. He did not transfer through the heat, so ACT officials allowed him into the starting lineup today.
ACT Late Model Starting Lineup
1. Trampas Demers
2. Marc Curtis, Jr.
3. Marcel Gravel
4. Joe Becker
5. Jean-Paul Cyr
6. Chip Grenier
7. Scott Payea
8. David Avery
9. Pete Fecteau
10. Roger Brown
11. Brian Hoar
12. Phil Scott
13. Eric Williams
14. Mike Bailey
15. Ron Henry
16. Dave Whitcomb
17. Jamie Aube
18. Dwayne Lanphear
19. Brent Dragon
20. Joey Pole
21. Dave Pembroke
22. Cris Michaud
23. Shawn Fleury
24. Dennis Demers
25. Tracie Bellerose
26. Scott Dragon
27. Jay Laquerre
28. Jamie Fisher
29. Ryan Nolin
30. Donald Theetge
31. Randy Potter
32. Claude Leclerc
Trampas Demers makes last-minute adjustments to his car that will lead the field to green in the feature.
Sunday 6:48pm - Scott Payea's first career ACT Late Model feature victory comes at the track that has meant so much to the young driver. He began his career here and he's been in the hunt for ACT Tour victories at Thunder Road in the past, including finishing second here last year in this event, but he had never been able to seal the deal.
That all changed today. The 2005 ACT Rookie of the Year scored his win in front of a capacity crowd at Thunder Road. Ron Henry finished second, his highest-ever ACT finish, making it a sweep of fresh faces at the front of the field. The six-time ACT titlist Jean-Paul Cyr finished third.
We'll have more from Thunder Road on Speed51.com in a full race recap and notes from around the pit area.
ACT Late Model Unofficial Finish
1. (7) Scott Payea, Milton, VT, 150
2. (15) Ron Henry, New Gloucester, ME, 150
3. (5) Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton, VT, 150
4. (1) Trampas Demers, S. Burlington, VT, 150
5. (11) Brian Hoar, Williston, VT, 150
6. (19) Brent Dragon, Milton, VT, 150
7. (22) Cris Michaud, Williamstown, VT, 150 \
8. (8) David Avery, Lincoln, NH, 150
9. (9) Pete Fecteau, Morrisville, VT, 150
10. (26) Scott Dragon, Milton, VT, 150
11. (3) Marcel Gravel, Wolcott, VT, 150
12. (24) Dennis Demers, Shelburne, VT, 150
13. (21) Dave Pembroke, Montpelier, VT, 150
14. (18) Dwayne Lanphear, Morrisville, VT, 150
15. (16) Dave Whitcomb, Essex Jct., VT, 150
16. (4) Joey Becker, Jeffersonville, VT, 149
17. (2) Marc Curtis, Jr., Worcester, MA, 149
18. (30) Donald Theetge, Boischatel, QC, 149
19. (31) Randy Potter, Groveton, NH, 149
20. (23) Shawn Fleury, Middlesex, VT, 149
21. (29) Ryan Nolin, Georgia, VT, 149
22. (13) Eric Williams, Hyde Park, VT, 148
23. (10) Roger Brown, Lancaster, NH, 148
24. (12) Phil Scott, Middlesex, VT, 147
25. (32) Claude Leclerc, Montreal, QC, 147
26. (25) Tracie Bellerose, Gorham, NH, 142
27. (20) Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, NH, 142
28. (6) Chip Grenier, Northfield, VT, 138
29. (28) Jamie Fisher, Shelburne, VT, 138
30. (14) Mike Bailey, S. Barre, VT, 137
31. (17) Jamie Aube, Bow, NH, 126
32. (27) Jay Laquerre, East Montpelier, VT, 50
Scott Payea was all smiles in victory lane.