Waterbury, VT — The biggest American-Canadian Tour (ACT) event of the summer is inching closer on the horizon — and for several drivers, there’s more than one pot of gold they’ll be chasing after.
The $10,000-to-win Midsummer 250 at N. Woodstock, NH’s White Mountain Motorsports Park (WMMP) is drawing buzz for its long-distance format and large purse. But for the ACT Late Model Tour’s best, the event is also the latest round in the battle for the 2019 series championship, which carries another $10,000 prize to go with it. While the main contenders are doing their best to ignore the pressure, the 250-lap showdown will undoubtedly help shape the rest of the season for all of them.
With just four point-counting events remaining, the quest for the title is currently a three-horse race. Plainfield, NH’s Rich Dubeau took the point lead from Williamstown, VT’s Jimmy Hebert at Star Speedway last time out and now holds a 14-point advantage. The two off-track friends and former Rookie of the Year winners are both seeking their first ACT championship.
Colchester, VT’s Scott Payea, the two-time defending ACT Champion, sits 55 points behind Dubeau in third. While the gap may seem daunting for some, the track record of Payea and his RPM Racing team proves they should never be counted out until the final checkered flag.
“I’m approaching (WMMP) the same way for now,” Rich Dubeau said, echoing the thoughts of his fellow contenders. “When we get to the last race of the year at Thompson, maybe things will be different if we’re in the same situation we are now. But right now, I think there’s too much racing left. A lot can happen – it only takes one bad race for us or for the guys behind us. I’m just trying to have fun for now and do the same things I’ve always been doing.
“I’m trying not to think too hard about the points, as weird as that sounds,” Dubeau continued. “Everyone thinks that I’m just trying to say the right things – but it really is how I feel. It’s cool for the team, but I don’t want to overthink anything or change up what we’ve been doing. It’s what’s gotten us this far.”
Regardless, a win at WMMP would be the surest way to kick-start a title drive for all three drivers, as a big point boost would accompany the $10,000 top prize. The combination of every point being critical and the huge check awaiting the victor means going for the win is clearly the best play.
All three drivers have recent success at the New Hampshire oval. Hebert and Payea won the last two ACT Late Model Tour events at WMMP, which included a thrilling battle between the two last August. Dubeau took third in this year’s Caron Fabrication Spring Green, which marked his first top-10 finish at the track. The trio each has a $5,000 Tour event win to their credit over the past two seasons, demonstrating their mastery on the biggest stages.
Hebert and Payea also finished second and third, respectively, in the inaugural edition of the Midsummer 250 last September. While that event was not ACT-sanctioned, it gave both some extra lessons in pace, tire management, and strategy to apply for an edition with far more on the line. For Dubeau, on the other hand, the upcoming event will be the longest of his career.
“Last year, it seemed like a lot of people forgot that it’s 250 laps – they were going hard on lap 10!” Hebert remarked. “I never went to the front until the very end. I just kind of lurked between fifth through 10th and saved my car. Even after we got the second set of tires last year, we saw a lot of people going really hard early, and they still had 120 to 150 laps left. Depending on when you take your tires, it’s like running a whole other regular ACT race.
“It’s just a matter of being there at the end and having some car left,” Hebert added. “It worked out for us pretty well last year – we just got bit by luck a little bit as far when cautions and accidents fell in terms of tire strategy. But White Mountain is probably my best track as of now, so it’s a good race for us.”
“I’m going to try and approach it like other Tour races – it’s just going to be a little bit longer,” Dubeau noted. “I put 110 percent into every race I go to. It would be awesome to win something like this. I know it helped me out tremendously when we won the $5,000-to-win event up at Chaudiere – it really made the season a lot easier financially. But honestly, it doesn’t matter if it’s paying $500 to win or $10,000 to win. I’m going to try and win the thing either way!”
There is still plenty to be decided behind the top-three. Rookie Ryan Kuhn of E. Bridgewater, MA has a solid hold on the number four spot thanks to four straight top-10 finishes. Fifth through eighth, on the other hand are separated by just 33 points. Blainville, QC’s Jonathan Bouvrette and Mathieu Kingsbury are sandwiched around sophomores Dylan Payea of Milton, VT and Christopher Pelkey of Graniteville, VT. All four can make a run at the top-five in the final standings, and a win at the Midsummer 250 would be the perfect start.
These and other regulars will be joined by many other big-time Late Model racers from throughout the region. Former ACT champions Patrick Laperle of St-Denis, QC and Joey Polewarczyk of Hudson, NH have committed to the event as has seven-time WMMP Late Model Champion Quinny Welch, defending Thunder Road Late Model Champion Scott Dragon, and former Speedway 51 Champion Corey Mason.
Qualifying for the Midsummer 250 at N. Woodstock, NH’s White Mountain Motorsports Park begins at 6:00pm on Saturday, August 3. The $10,000-to-win ACT Late Model Tour event will be joined by a full card for WMMP’s Wells River Chevrolet Flying Tigers, Woodsville Guaranty Savings Bank Strictly Stock Mini’s, and 7-Eleven Dwarf Cars. The pits open at 1:00pm and the front gates open at 2:30pm. Admission is $25 for adults, $5 for kids ages 6-12, and $50 for a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids). An optional practice day for all divisions has also been added for Friday, August 2 with hauler parking beginning at 12:00pm.
-American Canadian Tour Press Release
-Photo credit: Daniel Holben