Center Habor, NH driver Brad Leighton won the annual Summer Sizzler 200 at Kawartha Downs in Fraserville, Ontario (Canada) on Sunday, July 12. Leighton, who races on the ACT circuit when his NASCAR Camping World East Series schedule permits, crossed the line ahead of Joey Polewarczyk and Scott Payea.
For a rare occasion this summer, the races were held under a bright and warm sun. In qualifying, Brandon Watson, Jonathan Urlin, Joey Polewarczyk, and Patrick Laperle finished first in their respective heat races.
Meanwhile, Randy Potter and Donald Theetge did the same in the two consi races. Series officials elected to start all 38 racers in the feature, a wise decision considering the distance travelled by all to get to this beautiful but remote racing facility to most ACT drivers. Obviously, the Quebec area drivers had it easy with a four hour drive. From Vermont and New York, it was between five and six hours. But for Maine and New Hampshire, it was anywhere between seven and eight hours to get to the race track. Unfortunately for Jamie Fisher, he blew up his engine during practice and could not make the start. Fisher was 11th in ACT Championship standings before the event.
Maine's Ricky Wolfe and Leighton started on the front row, with Leighton jumping in the lead right at the conclusion of the first circuit. He would go on to lead the first 26 laps of the event. The defending and two time winner of the Summer Sizzler, St-Denis, Quebec's Patrick Laperle, took over and would lead the next 28 laps.
At the lap 55 restart, Randy Potter of Groveton, NH edged out Laperle for the top spot. The two would exchange the lead several times over the next ten laps. Potter, who is winless since the 2007 campaign, showed some strength in his battle with Laperle, much like he did earlier this year at Airborne in a similar configuration track when he battled Leighton.
Laperle who loves this race track lead laps 65 to 112. He then exchanged the lead with Joey Pole several times over a 25 lap stretch. Laperle lead a total of 97 laps, the most by any driver in the event, and would go on to finish seventh.
“Our car was great. But once again we outran the tires. The last two years we didn't pit and went the distance with the tires. This year we have been having trouble doing 100 laps with Goodyear's new tires. We thought our setup changes were going to fix it. It helped, but once we got to 150 laps they just got away. It was like trying to race on sheer ice, twice I scared myself the car got so loose. After that, we waited for the first caution. It only came on lap 181, at that point, we didn't have a choice and went to the pits for some much needed tires. I could race again but I just ran out of time” commented Laperle.
Young Pole took over on lap 140 and he led until lap 181. Potter was once again on top, but it was short lived as Pole came back and the two swapped the lead several times. At the last restart, on lap 189, the running order was Polewarczyk, Potter, Leighton, Payea, Hoar, Powell, Donahue, Morgan, Laperle and Watson. When the green flew, Pole and Leighton edged out Potter. Leighton would take over the lead on lap 191 and never look back. Meanwhile Potter who was fighting Pole for second ran out of gas with five laps to go.
“I pitted early. I won the race when I let Laperle, Pole and Potter go. The fought it out for first place burning their tires up, meanwhile I took advantage of the restarts and made up the positions I had lost because I pitted for right sides and gas” said Leighton.
“It was a great race. Salvaging second is great, I wish we would have won, but I didn't have anything to battle with Brad. The fight with Laperle and Potter were great, but it obviously wore the tires out” said Pole. He added “I am pumped. I race next Tuesday at Lee in a Pro Stock owned by Eric Desouza and then its off to the Oxford 250. I won earlier this year at Oxford and a win in the 250 would be awesome and a career accomplishment.”
Scott Payea finished third and continues to lead the championship standings. After the event, he now has a 23 points margin over second place driver Joey Polewarczyk.
Finishing in fourth place was St-Félicien's Karl Allard. “We had a great run all that. Not as strong as I would have liked maybe, but we were moving in the right direction. We were very fortunate to save the car from serious damage and for the caution to came out at the right time - for a spin in turn two and Donald Theetge's off course excursion in turn four - when Cole Powell clobbered us exiting turn two. He rode my car a good section of the backstretch, I don't think he ever lifted. Anyway, we managed to climb back to the front and finished fourth. I would have loved to get a win after finishing second last year, but to finish fourth in our back up car is a great accomplishment and we lost third place by inches. Not too shabby.”
Allard will be racing next week in the Oxford 250 using the winning Chevy Impala the Larue brothers bought from NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kevin Harvick immediately before last year's event.
In fifth place position was Ontario's Jonathan Urlin. Rounding out the top ten were: Brian Hoar, Patrick Laperle, Dave Morgan, Brandon Watson and Chip Grenier.
The current ACT Castrol Points Leader, Donald Theetge, had a strong run in the consi race, but was never a factor in the feature. On lap 185, as incidents were happening in turns one and two, Theetge in an unrelated event ended up in the soggy infield of turn four. He was able to return to the track and complete all 200 laps of the event. He finished twelve.
Kawartha Late Model rank's Championship points leader, Dan McHattie, ran strong all day. He was clocked the fastest in practice sessions. But when feature time rolled around he was not a factor. He ran top 15 all day but could not crack the top 10. He eventually finished 14th the last car on the lead lap.
Other Quebec drivers
Yvon Bédard retired early, at lap 10, with an engine failure and finished last in 37th position.
Stéphane Decoste retired from the race with 11 laps down as he lost a few due to a spin and then had electrical problems. He finished 25th.
Daniel Decoste who ran strong and up front for most of the day got in trouble when opted to pit as the field was going back to green. He lost two laps because of this and finished 22nd.
Claude Leclerc also finished two laps down and was credited with 21st finishing position.
Sylvain Lacombe had a very fast car. A miscue when he pitted under caution on lap 92 got him black flagged for a missing gas cap. He had to return to his pits under green and lost two laps. He tried very had over the last 100 laps to make them up but could not accomplish the feat.
ACT and ACT Castrol Series action is off, but most of the racers will be competing at Oxford Plains Speedway for the annual Oxford 250. Quebec drivers who have confirmed they will be racing the event are Patrick Laperle, Donald Theetge and Karl Allard.