PLATTSBURGH, NY– Patrick Laperle sat in his famous orange No. 91QC American-Canadian Tour Late Model on the frontstretch at Airborne Park Speedway (NY) with heavy emotions flowing on Sunday evening.
This time it wasn’t because he was thinking about what he could have done differently on the race track. It wasn’t because he was upset with himself or another driver. On this occasion, it was because he had just won an exhausting battle with Nick Sweet to claim the victory in the ACT International 300.
Laperle battled Sweet for nearly 20 laps during the closing laps of the third and final segment in what would end up being the race to determine the winner of the $25,000-to-win event. The St-Denis, Quebec driver would nose out in front as they crossed under the white flag and drive on to claim one of the biggest wins of his career.
“If I made a mistake, I would have lost like $25, 000,” said Laperle after the race. “I hit my mark every time. Same place, same braking. At the end, I was coming into turn one and I drove the car in deeper, and then Nick (Sweet) tried to drive it in deeper. I don’t know how many laps we did it like that, but it was way too much.”
Prior to winning the final segment, Laperle scored finishes of second and third in the first two segments of the day. After two segments, Laperle, Sweet, and Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. entered the final segment each with a score of six.
Starting from the 18th (Laperle), 19th (Sweet) and 20th (Polewarczyk) starting positions in the final segment, the three drivers sliced their way through the field during the early stages of the 75-lap segment. On multiple occasions the three drivers could be seen going three-wide on the top and bottom racing for every position they could get.
Sweet eventually took the lead for the first time on lap 46, but wasn’t able to do so without a rearview mirror full of Laperle’s No. 91. Laperle would power to the inside of Sweet near the lap 50 mark and the two drivers remained side-by-side until Laperle was able to take sole possession of the lead off of turn two on the final lap.
Following the win, Laperle took his time exiting his car in victory lane as his emotions got the best of him. After 20 grueling laps battling with one of the best Late Model racers in the Northeast (Sweet), Laperle was shedding tears of joy as his crew rushed towards his car and fans lined the fences to cheer him on.
“Those laps at the end, the money, the big trophy, and the people in the grandstands,” Laperle said when asked what made him so emotional after the race. “There were a bunch of people in the grandstands from Quebec. It’s awesome, just awesome.”
Sweet would hold on to finish second in both the final segment and the overall event. Despite the nearly $20,000 difference in the check he will receive for finishing second, Sweet was pleased with the second-place finish and the show he was able to put on for the great crowd in attendance.
“I was trying my hardest,” a tired Sweet told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “My hardest just didn’t pay off today. I’m really proud of all my guys. They’re working still and I’m just kind of recuperating. It was a pretty strenuous whole day. It’s tough on your body to run those kinds of races, come back in, and go back out.
“We came here to have a lot of fun and I think we achieved that today. Being greedy, I wish I was one spot ahead. I think the people that really won today were the fans. Hopefully they got their money’s worth. I know everyone was on their feet and I’m proud of that.”
The inaugural winner of the ACT International, Joey Polewarczyk, who entered the final segment tied for the lead, finished fifth in the final segment and third in the overall event. While making his charge to the front, Polewarczyk made contact with another car while racing three-wide and the damage appeared to have halted his progress to the front.
“It definitely didn’t help,” said Polewarczyk. “It pushed the fender in on the tire and I could feel that a little bit. I just didn’t have what I had earlier in the day. This race is just about winning. It doesn’t matter who finished second or third. I was just kind of hoping those two (Laperle and Sweet) would rough each other up a little bit, that’s all I could hope for.”
Brian Hoar started the first segment of the day from the pole position and seemed to have the car to beat early on before a right rear tire problem resulted in Hoar spinning on the backstretch. Hoar would have to pit to change tires and his 13th-place finish in the first segment set him back in his race towards $25,000.
Hoar would go on to win the second segment, finish third in the final segment, and finish fourth overall. Quebec’s Jean-Francois Dery’s productive weekend at Airborne came to an end with a fifth-place finish overall.
Fellow Canadian drivers Alex Labbe and Jonathan Bouvrette, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series engineer Ben Lynch, hometown favorite Brandon Atkins, and young female driver Emily Packard completed the top-10.
Laperle will cross the border back into Canada with a total of $28,600 for his win on Sunday. For Laperle, the race on Sunday was just his third start of the 2014 season. As a result of the win, he will receive an automatic invitation to the ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September.
– By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor. Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51. Featured photo credit: Leif Tillotson
ACT International 300 Unofficial Results
American Canadian Tour Late Models
Airborne Speedway – Plattsburgh, NY
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Pos. Driver, Hometown, Seg. 1, Seg. 2, Seg. 3, TOTAL
1. Patrick Laperle, St-Denis, QC, 2, 3, 1, 6
2. Nick Sweet, Barre, VT, 1, 4, 2, 7
3. Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Hudson, NH, 3, 2, 6, 11
4. Brian Hoar, Williston, VT, 13, 1, 3, 17
5. Jean-Francois Dery, Quebec, QC, 4, 12, 5, 21
6. Alex Labbe, St-Albert, QC, 5, 6, 10, 21
7. Jonathan Bouvrette, Blainville, QC, 11, 7, 4, 22
8. Ben Lynch, Huntersville, NC, 6, 13, 7, 26
9. #Brandon Atkins, AuSable Forks, NY, 7, 10, 12, 29
10. Emily Packard, E. Montpelier, VT, 12, 11, 8, 31
11. Jeff White, Winthrop, ME, 9, 5, 23, 37
12. Todd Davis, Claremont, NH, 10, 15, 14, 39
13. Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, MA, 8, 9, 24, 41
14. Eric Chase, Milton, VT, 14, 18, 11, 43
15. Rowland Robinson Jr., Steuben, ME, 17, 19, 9, 45
16. Jimmy Hebert, Williamstown, VT, 15, 14, 16, 45
17. #Lance Allen, Barre, VT, 16, 17, 13, 46
18. Bobby Therrien, Hinesburg, VT, 23, 8, 17, 48
19. Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton, VT, 19, 16, 15, 50
20. Jason Corliss, Barre, VT, 20, 20, 21, 61
21. #Matt Anderson, Franklin, NH, 22, 22, 20, 64
22. Boomer Morris, Barre, VT, 18, 21, 25, 64
23. Rejean Plante, St-Hyacinthe, QC, 25, 23, 19, 67
24. #Mike Ziter, Williamstown, VT, 28, 24, 18, 70
25. Patrick Emerling, Orchard Park, NY, 24, 25, 22, 71
26. #John Falconi, Oakham, MA, 21, 26, 25, 72
27. Kyle Welch, Newport, NH, 26, 27, 25, 78
28. Nick Lagoy, Plattsburgh, NY, 27, 27, 25, 79
Segment #1 -Bobby Therrien, 1-2; Brian Hoar, 3-19; Nick Sweet, 20-22; Hoar, 23; Sweet, 24-50; Segment #2 – Bobby Therrien, 1-40; Brian Hoar, 41-50;
Segment #3 – Rowland Robinson, Jr., 1-3; Eric Chase, 4-11; Robinson, 12-13; Chase, 14; Robinson, 15-45; Nick Sweet, 46-63; Patrick Laperle, 64; Sweet, 65-70, Laperle 71-75.
Time of Race: 1:32:12 – Segment #1: 31:30; Segment #2: 31:40; Segment #3: 29:02.
Cautions: 9 (Segment #1 – 5: Laps 2, 19, 22, 23, 28) (Segment #2 – 2: Laps 2, 40) (Segment #3 – 2: Laps 39, 49)