One year ago, the rumble of Thunder Road International Speedbowl (VT) was overcome by the roar of veteran racer Scott Dragon and Richard Green Racing. The dynamic duo put together a championship season in the track’s premier Late Model division, ending the dominance of a few select drivers who had previously made the Green Mountains of Vermont their personal playground. Now, Dragon and the No. 16 team will look to build on that momentum and take it on the road as they add the American-Canadian Tour to their slate for 2017.
After edging Nick Sweet by just one point in the championship standings, the 2016 “King of the Road” has taken most of the winter to cut loose, but is already regrouping for the coming season.
“We’re full till right now trying to get the cars done. We took about a month and a half off this winter to fool around with some vintage snow machines we’ve been racing the last couple years. We’re playing catch up right now,” Dragon told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
While an ACT championship is on the list of goals, the Milton, Vermont driver is still keeping his home track high on the priority list, and will only chase the full ACT schedule if the team is sure they will be able to contend race after race.
“We’re going to do the full Thunder Road schedule again and start the ACT Tour. We are going to attempt to run the full schedule there, too. We’ll see how well we can run to get started. If it looks like we can be contenders, we’ll stick with it. We’re building another car for the Tour, so we’ll have an extra car just for it.”
Over the last couple seasons, the ACT Tour has spread out far and wide across the Northeast, but things are different for 2017 with ACT sticking to a more home-based schedule. Only three of the season’s 10 scheduled events will be contested outside the Twin States of Vermont and New Hampshire.
“What attracted us (to ACT) was them cutting the schedule back to 10 races, with two at Thunder Road,” Dragon explained. “It doesn’t really add much to our schedule, another eight races which we can handle.”
Dragon has not run a full ACT schedule since the 2003 season, where he scored the last two of his three career wins on the Tour. Though the 43-year-old racer has been to all the tracks on the 2017 schedule, he has yet to race at two of them, one of which may be a surprise to his fellow statesmen.
“I’ve been to all of them, but one I haven’t raced at, believe it or not, is Devil’s Bowl (VT) even though that’s one of the closer places. The other is Thompson (CT); I’ve been to Thompson to watch my father race quite a few times over the years, but never turned a lap there myself. Everything else we’ve hit over the years, so looking forward to getting back some of these places; White Mountain, Lee, even going back to Seekonk, I haven’t been there since 2003 maybe. It should be fun.”
While going up against the full-timers of the American-Canadian Tour will be tough enough, defending his “King of the Road” title will be even tougher.
“It’s still going to be tough racing up there (at Thunder Road) with a few new guys coming in this year that are going to be tough to beat for sure.”
Every triumph for Dragon seemed to be by an eyelash at “The Nation’s Site of Excitement” in 2016 with the win in the Vermont Governor’s Cup coming by mere inches and the championship by a single point, both ironically over Nick Sweet. But Dragon is not one to give into pressure and feels the team has wave of momentum, enough for both Thunder Road and ACT.
“We had a great year last year. We’ve been together three years, this group of us you could see we were getting better. Going into last season, I was real confident we were going to give Sweet a run for his money and it worked out. If things go the way they have been, I’d say we’ll go into the season a little better. We just got to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re a low-pressure team and if we can keep it that way, we’ll be just fine.”
Dragon will kick off his busy 2017 campaign on April 9 with a visit to Lee USA Speedway (NH) for the ACT season-opening Governor’s Cup 150.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Alan Ward