Rolfe Translates Knowledge of Oxford Into ACT Victory by Mike Twist
Mainer Keeps His #51 Ahead of Jean Paul Cyr at the Finish
Ricky Rolfe's #51 shined just a bright bit brighter than the competition at Oxford. (51 Photo)
Early on, Rolfe set a blistering pace. He didn't just have a good car, he had a great one and a long green run certainly helped his cause.
By lap 15, Rolfe was at the flagstand when the second-place runner was in turn four. By lap 23, Rolfe was already catching lapped. By lap 42, he put last week's ACT winner, Joey Pole, on lap down.
But Rolfe wasn't wearing his car out - or running it too hard.
“They were telling me how much of a lead that I had, so I started letting off early and
coasting into the corner,” explained Rolfe. “But sometimes when you do that here, you
actually get faster. You don't upset the car and it's smooth, so you can get on the gas
quicker. I was hoping to do what Joey Pole did last weekend and put a lot of lapped
car between me and second place without abusing the tires.”
By lap 50, Rolfe had a full straightaway lead when the caution flew for Jean Paul Cyr
and John Donahue sliding off turn four after hitting some oil. Cyr and Donahue didn't lose
any ground. Afterwards, Cyr kicked his own car into overdrive, using the outside groove
to work his way towards the front.
Just after halfway, Cyr found himself in the sixth position. Less than 20 laps later, he
was up to second. He soon caught up to Rolfe, but catching the leader and passing him
were two very different things.
“The car kept tightening up as we lost fuel,” said Cyr. “By the time that we caught him, it was probably too tight to do much work with him unless he was going to pull down and let me by.”
With 40 laps to go, Cyr stayed glued to Rolfe's bumper and tried to use lapped traffic to get around him. It didn't work and Cyr was forced to play second fiddle until a caution flag waved with just seven laps to go thanks to Ben Rowe spinning in turn one.
They say that knowledge is power and if that is true, Ricky Rolfe had plenty of extra horses riding with him in addition to the ones from his General Motors crate engine in Saturday night's ACT Late Model event at Oxford Plains Speedway.
There is probably nobody in recent history who has more knowledge of the legendary third-mile Maine oval than Rolfe. He has accumulated his knowledge of the track as a weekly racer - he's competed in both the old Pro Stock (Super Late Model) and Late Model classes at OPS. He's gathered it as a car builder, who pieces together some of the fastest cars at the track under the Racebasics banner for competitors like Jean Paul Cyr and 2007 OPS track champion Travis Adams.
He's also learned a few lessons by entering just about any touring race at the track over the past few years that he has had a race-legal car for - ACT or PASS - it hasn't mattered. Rolfe has also logged plenty of laps in a little race at the track called the TD Banknorth 250.
Rolfe has learned from all of those experiences and he put all of that knowledge to good use on Saturday by winning the New England Dodge Dealers 150 at the track. It was Rolfe's first ACT victory since a race at Oxford in 2002.
“I finally got back to winning an ACT race,” said Rolfe. “We ran strong all day. I wasn't
sure that we had a winning car, but I knew that we had a top five car.”
Rolfe led fromt he pole at Oxford. (Leif Tillotson Photo)
Now, we had ourselves a race.
On the restart, the leaders drag-raced from the start finish line with Rolfe on the inside and Cyr to the outside. Rolfe led first. The Cyr did. Finally, with just two laps to go, Rolfe stayed out front and went on to win the race.
Rolfe was a little bit of a surprise winner though.
“During the race, towards the end when Jean Paul Cyr was catching me, I said 'here we go, one of my cars is going to beat me',” said Rolfe. “I built Jean's car. I could see that he was running the high groove, so I slid out there and figured that I would let him have the bottom if he wanted it. He didn't even try the bottom. Then that caution came out and I got put down the bottom. I just figured that I'd have to settle for second then because I knew that he was pretty fast out there. I really thought that it was over.”
That is where Rolfe's knowledge of the Oxford track became more important than horsepower or handling.
Jean Paul Cyr noses ahead of Rolfe for two laps near the end of the race. (Jamie Williams Photo)
“I was faster down the bottom, but the car wasn't very stable,” said Rolfe. “So I moved up and the car was stable, but it wasn't fast. Where it was comfortable, I could relax and not make mistakes. Down the bottom, I was fighting the wheel.
“I know that here if you really need some extra grip, you get right down on the curb. Nobody runs down there, they run 18 inches off it, but there is always good asphalt down there. So I did that and when I started running down there, over those last few laps, I started pulling away a little bit again.”
“His tires got a chance to cool off and mine did too,” said Cyr. “His car was loose
during the race, so on cold tires it tightened up perfectly. Mine was tight, so it got
loose for two or three laps then it was neautral for two or three laps and that's when I
went by for the lead. But I wasn't able to close the deal. The car tightened up on those
last few laps and that was all she wrote.”
Brent Dragon came from deep in the field at the start to finish third. Eddie MacDonald
and John Donahue rounded out the top five finishers.
But the car that shown the brightest all day was Rolfe's #51 - a pair of digits that we
admit to being a little bit partial towards.
“It's a perfect number, “ joked Rolfe to Speed51.com. “You can see how bright it is
The ACT Late Model Tour returns to action on Sunday at Thunder Road Speedbowl (VT).
FINISH – New England Dodge Dealers 150
ACT Late Model Tour – Oxford Plains Speedway, Oxford, ME
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Pos.-(Start)-Car No.-Driver-Hometown (# - denotes rookie)
1.(1) 51 Ricky Rolfe, Albany Twp., ME 2.(15) 32 Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton, VT 3.(24) 55VT Brent Dragon, Milton, VT 4.(17) 17 Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, MA 5.(3) 26 John Donahue, Graniteville, VT 6.(2) 94 Shawn Martin, Turner, ME 7.(12) 91 Patrick Laperle, St-Denis, QC 8.(18) 80 Donald Theetge, Boischatel, QC 9.(7) 6 Cris Michaud, Northfield, VT 10.(8) 10NH Ben Rowe, Turner, ME 11.(9) 78 Ryan Nolin, Georgia, VT 12.(22) 11 Claude Leclerc, Lanoraie, QC 13.(29) 7VT Eric Williams, Hyde Park, VT 14.(4) 70 Scott Dragon, Milton, VT 15.(5) 9ON #Jonathan Urlin, London, ON 16.(21) 25 Shawn Knight, South Paris, ME 17.(30) 89 Scott Payea, Milton, VT 18.(25) 97 Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, NH 19. (10) 05 Ron Henry, New Gloucester, ME 20.(27) 56 Dale Verrill, Paris, ME 21.(32) 02NH Randy Potter, Groveton, NH 22.(16) 5ME Leon Heckbert, Wilton, ME 23.(13) 07 Scott Luce, Strong, ME 24.(28) 85 Dennis Demers, Shelburne, VT 25.(20) 7ME Glen Luce, Turner, ME 26.(14) 16 Joe Becker, Jeffersonville, VT 27.(19) 41VT Pete Potvin, III, Graniteville, VT 28.(23) 61 Tommy Ricker, Poland, ME 29.(26) 83 Alan Tardiff, Lyman, ME 30.(31) 18 Jamie Fisher, Shelburne, VT 31.(11) 15 Ben Ashline, Pittston, ME 32.(33) 86 Travis Stearns, Auburn, ME 33. (6) 03 Travis Adams, Canton, ME
Rolfe climbs out after winning at Oxford. (Jamie Williams Photo)