Moore Barnstorms, Wolfe & Durgin Have Trouble & Much More
RISING STAR RETURNS TO ROOTS
Before he had a driver development contract with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and before he was a front running NASCAR Busch North driver, Ryan Moore got his touring series feet wet by running in the ACT Late Model Series. He was a regular in the series during the 2002 season and didn’t forget his roots at Lee where he returned to the ACT wars behind the wheel of the #88 Fowler Racing entry.
past the halfway mark. On the restart, Moore’s car slowed
with a flat tire and, having to pit under green, ended his chances of scoring a victory. Moore did not know that the tire was going down until the lights were off on the pace car.
“It felt alright until I got to the backstretch and picked up the pace for the restart,” said Moore. “At that point, it was just too late.”
SHORT HEAT RACES LONG ON TROUBLE
“It was a blast,” said Moore. “It almost makes it seem a
lot easier than before after running the Busch cars.
Everyone ran me clean and I had a lot a fun.”
Moore’s #88 entry belonged to the Fowler family, but it had
a Busch North flair to it. His NASCAR sponsors, NAPA of
Maine and the Bill Dodge Auto Group contributed tire money
to the effort and his father, legendary Busch North driver
Kelly Moore was on hand to coach his son in the race.
There was almost a great ending to Moore’s day. He had an
entire straightway lead before it was erased by a caution
Ryan Moore gets ready for his ride in the #88 Late Model. (51 photo)
The wildest event of the day was probably the C-Feature.
Although there were only 18 green flag laps, over half of
the 26-car starting grid was eliminated before the event
even made it to the halfway mark. Among those drivers that
wrecked their way out were Lee regulars Scott Watts, Dean
Webber and Tom Fuller.
The stakes in the race were high. The top six finishers
advanced to the B Feature (and would have a shot at the main event), while everyone else went home early.
The next event, the B-Feature, where seven cars would
advance, wasn’t much better. ACT drivers Jacob McGarth and Rich Lowery were among those to wreck in that event and not make it into the feature.
Wheeler's #92 was quick when it mattered the most. (51 photo)
Towards the end of the 150 lap race, his #92 car was a
rocket again. He passed Roger Brown for second with only a
handful of laps remaining, but could not make it up to fight
for the lead.
“The car came back to life towards the end,” said
Wheeler. “We came back through traffic pretty well, but
just didn’t have anything for the #39 (Kennington).”
Wheeler is now focused on Sunday’s Milk Bowl at Thunder Road Speedbowl (VT).
“We’ll do a little cosmetic work and go through the set-up and be ready to race,” said Wheeler. “We’ve got a really good car and hopefully, we’ll have a top five up there.”
BROWN’S CAR NOT PRETTY, BUT VERY FAST
Roger Brown didn’t look the part of a potential race winner when he rolled into the Lee USA Speedway. His #99 car did not sport a fancy paint job and looked like it could be more of a back marker than a top car. But paint doesn’t win races and under the car’s flat black coating was a quick machine.
lost my front brakes. So we made the decision to come in and try to do something with the brakes. It worked out for us, but we didn’t have anything left at the end.”
LEE TRACK CHAMP HAS ROUGH NATIONALS
There probably weren’t many racers at Lee who had a longer day than Ricky Wolfe. The newly crowned NASCAR Weekly Racing Series champion for the New England region had one thing after another go wrong at his home track.
In his heat race, Wolfe was within sight of a transfer position when a bump from behind sent him into the turn three wall on the final lap. Patrick Leperle got by for the spot and Wolfe had to advance into the feature on the basis of his 2004 track championship.
The "Wolfe Pack" was busy getting their car ready for the feature. (51 photo)
Durgin was not very happy after the race and most of his criticism was aimed at Shaw.
“Sometimes you make your own mistakes and there are other times that other people make your problems for you,” said Durgin. “Tonight was one of those times when I was sitting there biding my time when I got in trouble because of someone who through his whole career has forced the issue on
every racetrack that he’s ever raced at and in every racecar that he has ever driven. Because he forced the issue on another driver and I was on the outside, I destroyed a racecar.”
Not only did plenty of guys load up early, several had mangled cars on their trailers. (51 photo)
WHEELER REBOUNDS TO SECOND PLACE FINISH
It was an up and down night for Chad Wheeler, but the final result for the Vermont driver ended up being pretty good. Wheeler took over the lead from D.J. Kennington around lap 50 and actually got hit by a spinning car while up front. He then faded a little bit and pitted for some adjustments.
The #99 of Roger Brown runs inside of the fancier looking #55 of Brent Dragon. (Norm Marx photo)
“Last season, we had a nice and fancy paint job,” said
Brown. “All that we did all year was fix it, so this year
we just painted it flat black. It’s inexpensive and we like
to be different.”
Brown’s tires went away late in the race and he faded from
the lead to a third-place finish. He was still very happy
with the run.
“We pitted early,” said Brown. “We’ve had a hard time
getting the car to go on long runs. It’s slippery here and
by lap 60, I had nothing. We were going backwards and I
Wolfe’s team thrashed to repair heavy damage to his car and
was the final car to make it onto the grid. He barely made
it into the feature in time and when all was said and done,
he probably wishes now that he didn’t beat the clock. This
time, Wolfe didn’t even make it to the start-finish line
before getting caught up in another wreck.
“I guess someone (Joey Becker) came out of the infield at
the start and that’s what caused the wreck,” said
Wolfe. “He drove into the guy that I was on the outside of
(Ron Henry). I couldn’t figure out why the guy inside of me
wasn’t turning, but he got hit in the door - someone drove
out of the infield and right into him. I was in the car and I didn’t even know what happened at first.”
Don’t expect to see Wolfe in any ACT races in the near future.
“I don’t think that you’ll see me racing on the ACT tour anytime soon,” said Wolfe. “I’m pretty disappointed because you hear about how clean these guys run and stuff like that. I’m not crying over spilled milk, but it was anything but clean out there today.”
After a mostly trouble free season, the Late Model Nationals had its share of trouble for Wolfe and he team.
“We haven’t wrecked this much stuff all year long,” said Wolfe. “Now we try to run with these guys just one time and we probably threw about $2,000 worth of parts away. It’s just makes no sense. They can say what they want about Lee USA Speedway, but some of these guys can come here now
and learn how to run short track races, because that’s not short track racing.”
DURGIN GETS SHAW’ED EARLY ON
Things didn’t go much better for Mark Durgin. The path to the 150-lap feature went a little easier for him than Wolfe on the basis of a strong run in the second cosi race. However, just four laps into the main event things soured for the former NASCAR Busch North Series driver.
Dale Shaw and Brent Dragon got together on the backstretch, with Dragon sliding up into Durgin’s path. Durgin’s #3 car made contact with Dragon’s right rear corner. Durgin’s car then went airborne over Dragon’s machine and ended up back on the ground right before hitting the turn three wall hard.
“The #55 (Dragon) got squirrelly because the #52 (Shaw) put
his nose where it didn’t belong,” said Durgin. “That early
in the race, you don’t drive into somebody so he has to
move. Especially if you know that there is someone to the
outside that has committed already to being there. There’s
got to be give and take and went there isn’t that early, you
end up with racecars like this.”
Mark Durgin gets ready to buckle in for a soon-to-be wild ride. (51 photo)
On a more positive note, Durgin was happy with the effort
that his crew put forth to get his car in the show.
“It was good to be one of the few Lee cars that made it in,”
said Durgin. “We had a fast racecar all night long. I’m
very disappointed in the fact that we were out as early as
we were because we were moving towards the front.”
Durgin, who finished second to Ryan Moore in last season’s
NASCAR Busch North Series Rookie of the Year battle, has
been running his own Late Model at Lee this season on a
shoestring budget. Now, his only car might have turned its
Durgin's #32 car was pretty well used up after the race. (51 photo)
“It’s pretty safe to say that the car is destroyed,” said Durgin. “The front clip is gone, the center section might be gone, the rear clip is bent and the rear end is bent. It’s junkyard parts now. But, I’m OK. It helps to have a $2,000 seat that did its job.”
BUSCH NORTH DRIVERS HAVE BAD NIGHTS
The race had a Busch North flavor to it with Ryan Moore, Eddie MacDonald, Mike Olsen and Dale Shaw entered. While Moore had a strong run, the other three quarters of that contingent did not have a fun night. They all got caught up in the same big wreck on lap 64.
The wreck started when Dave Whitcomb tried to make a pit
stop and got into Olsen.
“The #25 car (Whitcomb) decided to come in and I was
there,” said Olsen. “I was on the bottom and he came in
and hooked his left rear or something and it just shot me up
in the air. It’s too bad because the car was good and we
were just riding. I was waiting until the end to race
hard. We definitely had a top five car and maybe even a top
there one, we just didn‘t make it to the end.”
Olsen, just like MacDonald and Moore, raced at Dover Down International Speedway (DE) on Friday afternoon and then headed back to New England to run Sunday’s event at Lee. The weekend wasn’t too much of a grind for Olsen though.
“I’m not too worn out,” said Olsen. “I didn’t get to run the whole race, so I’m not really tired. It was a pretty busy day today with all of the cars here. Just getting in the show was have the battle.”
MacDonald also got caught up in the same wreck because he couldn’t slow down enough to avoid it.
“It was really loose at the beginning,” said MacDonald. “We came in and adjusted on it and put some tires on. It was really quick after that. We were just riding around and as the race went on, we started losing the brakes. When Olsen and the #25 got together, I couldn’t slow down quick enough to stay out of it. It didn’t hurt the car bad, but it put a hole right in the radiator.”
GOOD PAYDAY AT LEE
Not only did the Lee Late Model Nationals have a very healthy winner’s purse of $10,000; the prize money for the other top finishes was pretty impressive as well. Second place paid $5,000 and third was good for a $2,500 check.
Eddie MacDonald runs to the inside of Sam Caron in the heat race at Lee. (51 photo)