Waterbury, VT -- The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) celebrates the end-of-summer holidays this Sunday, September 1 with the 41st Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic at Barre, VT’s Thunder Road. The tour’s second visit of the year to the Barre high banks comes with just two events left in the battle to be the 2019 ACT Late Model Tour champion.
The Labor Day Classic has been on and off the ACT schedule over the years but returned to the calendar in 2017. Since then, the 200-lap marathon has been the penultimate point-counting round for drivers chasing the $10,000 champion’s check. Whomever is fast enough, strong enough, and lucky enough to be in the running at the end of 200 laps will set themselves up well going into the season finale at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway.
Little changed at the top of the ACT standings last weekend at Oxford Plains Speedway — meaning much is still to be decided this Sunday. Plainfield, NH’s Rich Dubeau extended his point lead slightly over Williamstown, VT’s Jimmy Hebert. The gap between the two now stands at 26 points. But a driver can earn up to 125 points at a single ACT event, so that margin can evaporate in a hurry.
Both drivers have been strong in recent outings at Thunder Road. In fact, they were the two highest-finishing ACT regulars at the Community Bank N.A. 150 in May. While the speed is there for both, in a 200-lap affair, they know strategy and luck will also be big factors.
Two-time defending champion Scott Payea of Colchester, VT can also get back in the hunt. Payea currently sits 59 points behind Dubeau in third. However, Payea has been hot-and-cold at his home track in recent years. He won the 2017 Labor Day Classic but also failed to qualify for this year’s Community Bank N.A. 150. His RPM Racing team knows another Labor Day win is practically a must to contend for the title. As such, they will be going for broke on Sunday.
Other Tour regulars could be a big factor. Graniteville, VT’s Christopher Pelkey has multiple podium finishes at Thunder Road this year in weekly competition. Top rookie Ryan Kuhn of E. Bridgewater, MA has six straight top-10 finishes to his name. Milton, VT’s Dylan Payea arrives at his home track coming off his first career top-five finish with ACT. Canadian trio Jonathan Bouvrette, Mathieu Kingsbury, and Claude Leclerc are all contenders for the overall top-10 and need a good run on Sunday to help seal the deal.
The ACT stars are expected to be facing off against the best Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models that Thunder Road has to offer. These drivers almost always take the opportunity to go head-to-head against the ACT invaders. The last two years, the locals have had the last laugh. In both last year’s Labor Day Classic and this year’s Community Bank N.A. 150, the top-four finishers were Thunder Road regulars.
Most of this year’s weekly competitors are anticipated to come try and keep that streak alive. The challengers could include point leader Jason Corliss, who has won the last three ACT Late Model Tour events at Thunder Road; defending “King of the Road” Scott Dragon of Milton; multi-time winner Cody Blake of Barre; and recent feature winner Matt White of Northfield.
Entries have been received from Vermont Governor’s Cup winner Brooks Clark of Fayston and former Devil’s Bowl Speedway Champion Josh Masterson of Bristol. A full field and then some is expected on Sunday, meaning qualifying alone will have an intensity worth showing up for.
The 41st Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic 200 at Thunder Road is coming this Sunday, September 1 at 1:30pm. The ACT Late Model Tour and local Late Model standouts will be joined by 50-lap features for the track’s Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers and Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors. Admission is $25 for adults and free for kids ages 12 and under. The pits open at 8:30am and the front gates open at 10:30am.
Those who want an early holiday racing fix can get it on Saturday, August 31 at 6:00pm. Four Cylinder Saturday features a 50-lap event for the North East Mini Stock Tour and added-distance features for Thunder Road’s Allen Lumber Street Stocks and Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors. Admission is $10 for adults and $3 for kids ages 6-12. The pits open at 3:00pm and the front gates open at 4:15pm.
-American-Canadian Tour Press Release
-Photo credit: Alan Ward