51 Leftovers: ACT Late Models at Beech Ridge
Ford Engines, a Stellar Rookie, Hound Dog Taylor and More
By Mike Twist
Blue Oval Breakthrough

When Joey Pole won at Beech Ridge, Ford scored their first ACT Late Model Tour victory with their S347JR Crate Engine.  After looking for a victory on the tour for just about one year,  Ford really broke on through at Beech Ridge - with three entries in the top ten.  In addition to Pole's result, Austin Theriault finished second and John Donahue took home fifth place honors.

Scoring win number one for the brand was especially satisfying to Pole.

“To bring Ford to victory lane for the first time is icing on the cake,” said Pole.  “I think by far, this has been Ford's best track.  It's the way that the track is set up.  You can't really get on the throttle right away because you get loose off and I don't know if it is where Ford's torque range is, but it is great here.  It showed tonight.  All of the Fords were right there.”

There was also some personal satisfaction for Pole scoring the victory as he really values the relationship that he has built up with the folks at Ford Racing.

“They have been so great to us,” said Pole.  “Anything that we need, Mike Delahanty from Ford has been right there to work with us.  You can't ask to work with better people.  So it just feels great to bring them a win.”

Second place finisher Theriault also was singing the praises of Ford after the race, and thinks that his team has hit on something to make the second part of the season even more successful with their Ford engine.

“The Ford ran great today,” said Theirault.  “I couldn't have asked for anything better.  We're trying different gears with that and we finally hit on something.”

Theriault Takes Career Best Finish - For Now

ACT Late Model rookie Austin Theriault scored his best finish to date at Beech Ridge with a runner-up result.

“It's our first top five finish,” said Theirault.  “We had a great run and a great car.  I started deep in the field and that really did us in because we might have had a winning car.  We might have.  I think that I burned the tires coming up through.  All in all though, it was a great day.”

Even though Theriault started back in the 22nd position, he actually appeared to be conserving his car somewhat (even if he thought that he burned up his tires too soon), some of that though actually resulted from starting so far back.

“When you start deep in the pack, you automatically save your stuff because there are slower cars in front of you,” said Theirault.  “You save your right rear tire.  As the laps wind down, the people in front of you kind of weed out and before you know it, you are in the top ten.”

Taylor Shows He's Just as Good as Ever

Jeff Taylor almost stole the show at Beech Ridge.  He was really the only driver to seriously battle with Joey Pole for the lead and it looked like a great show might take place to decide the victory between those two drivers - until Taylor had a late race flat tire on his Hound Dog Racing #88 inside of 20 laps to go.

That left the eight-time Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) champion with a finish of 22nd in one of his first starts behind the wheel of an ACT Late Model.

“I tried not to go too hard,” said Taylor.  “But we haven't been racing, so my gauge of what is too hard and what isn't hard enough is a little bit fuzzy right now I guess because obviously, I was going too hard.”

Then again, it wasn't immediately clear whether the tire issue was due to abuse or just running over something on the track.

“It's got a hole in it,” said Taylor.  “We didn't look at it too hard because it's dark out there.  It's kind of the story of my long-distance races.  They usually end up in heartbreak one way or another.  We'll run good for awhile, but have nothing to so for it.”

One consolation to Taylor was the fact that the car he raced against for the lead, Joey Pole's winning #97 Late Model was a creation of Taylor's Distance Racing shops. 

“Sure…Absolutely,” said Taylor when he was asked if he was proud of that fact.  “It just gives me pride and it gives them a sense of confidence in what we are doing too.  Even though they have our car, it shows them that we are working at it.”

All in all though, Taylor had fun at Beech Ridge.

“I haven't raced that hard in years,” said Taylor.  “I'm a little rusty, but I tried not to screw anyone up too bad.”

Pole Enjoys Racing Against His Car Builder

The pleasure of Jeff Taylor racing at Beech Ridge wasn't all his.  Customer Joey Pole also enjoyed racing against his car builder for the lead.

“It was awesome to race against him,” said Pole.  “You hear all of the stories of when he raced and this has been the first time that I have really raced against him.  He's the chassis builder, so I had to be nice.  But we're a customer, so he had to be nice too.  It worked out well.

“He's a hard racer, I'll tell you that much.”

Morgan's Streak Continues With Top Five at Beech Ridge

Six days before the Beech Ridge ACT race, Corey Morgan finished third in the TD Bank Oxford 250.  At Beech Ridge, he continues a strong week by placing fourth.

“It's been a very good week,” said Morgan.

Morgan is a regular at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME), a track similar to Beech Ridge.  Those common traits helped him adapt for the ACT race.

“I just got used to it quickly,” said Morgan.  “The track itself really isn't that different.  They both have tight turns and the scenery is lot different, so it was a little hard to adjust.  But Dale and DJ Shaw have given me such good equipment, that it just goes everywhere.  I just go along for the ride and its great.”

Now, Morgan has one big thing still on his mind.  He's hoping to impress everyone enough to earn an berth in September's ACT Invitational race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“I just want to go to Loudon,” said Morgan.  “This means a lot because it's been a long time since we've run like this, so I'm going to try and keep this streak going for as long as we can.”

Spin Can't Keep Donahue From a Top Five Finish

John Donahue spun on lap 84, but recovered to finish fifth.  He admitted after the race that it was a long road to get to a top five finish.

“It was, but it was fun though,” said Donahue.  “We had a decent car.  When I spun, I could see him and thought I had him cleared.  But I got turned.  So I said, 'Well, whatever.  We'll come back through.'  They  kept telling me on the radio that I was catching them a little bit by little bit.  They kept me calm and we marched our way back to fifth.”

Brackett Heads Down the Road for a Podium Finish

Tim Brackett is one of the winningest drivers ever at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME), but since that track was off on last Saturday night, he headed down the road to Beech Ridge and was rewarded with a podium finish of third in the ACT Late Model race.

“The car was real good,” said Brackett.  “It turned awesome , but we just couldn't quite get the forward bite off to finish off some stuff.   The car was real good.  I was a little nervous about tires after [Jeff Taylor] had a flat because I had been abusing them pretty hard too.  So I backed it down a bit.  Just enough to stay where I was.”

Speedshots -

-  NASCAR K&N East Series driver D.J. Shaw enjoyed an off-weekend from that tour to serve as Corey Morgan's car chief at Beech Ridge.

-  Seven-time ACT Late Model champion Jean Paul Cyr debuted his own #32 Late Model at Beech Ridge, but did not qualify for the race.

-  Scott Payea, who is currently fifth in the ACT Late Model standings, parked his own #89 Late Model and did not intend to race at Beech Ridge due to lack of money.  He picked up a last minute ride in Eric Chase's #40 car for the race though and finished 21st.

-  Three registered rookies finished in the top ten at Beech Ridge - Austin Theriault (second), Dave Paya (ninth) and Bradley Babb (tenth). 

Joey Pole finishes first at Beech Ridge with his Ford engine.  (Leif Tillotson Photos)
Austin Theriault (Right) appeared on an ACT Late Model podium for the first time in his career at Beech Ridge.
Joey Pole (#97) and Jeff Taylor (#88) do battle.
Corey Morgan (Blue Fender) mixes it up at Beech Ridge.
John Donahue goes for a spin with his #26VT Late Model.
Jean Paul Cyr (#32) and Scott Payea (#40) were in new rides at Beech Ridge.