LOUDON, N.H.  — Wayne Helliwell, Jr. didn’t want to sound like a baby, but as he led the way during the latter stages of Saturday’s American-Canadian Tour Invitational he didn’t believe the track conditions were safe enough to complete the race in its entirety.


After a long day of racing at the track, darkness filled the skies as the ACT Invitational hit the halfway mark.  With Helliwell leading, the race would officially be called on lap 44 of the 50-lap event due to darkness and the Dover, New Hampshire driver was announced as the winner of the 6th Annual ACT Invitational.


“This is huge,” Helliwell told Speed51.com powered by JEGS after the race.  “This is our big race.  This is epic for us.  It’s huge for the sponsors.  I couldn’t be any happier for the team.  To come here and shine on such a big stage is kind of mind blowing.”


Helliwell came over the radio following a lap 44 caution and told his crew, “I’m not a baby, but it’s getting dark.  I’m having a hard time hitting my marks (on the track.)”


ACT officials would try for one more restart on lap 44, but a multi-car incident on the backstretch brought out the red flag and forced ACT president Tom Curley to pull the plug on the final six laps.


“It was getting dark and it was getting dark quick,” said Helliwell.  “The lift points, or at least for me, were visual markings kind of on like corner entry.  I didn’t want to go back racing.  You don’t want to drive into the turn at 140 miles per hour and I’m not going to lift and he’s not going to lift.  We’re both going to crash.  It’s the best thing they could have done.  I’m sure it was hard for Tom (Curley) to pull the plug, but ultimately I think it was the best decision.”


Helliwell’s win did not come unchallenged, however.  He faced off against one of the best in the ACT Late Model game, Patrick Laperle, on multiple restarts and was able to hold him off each time.


“The restarts were just perfect.  Everything worked picture perfect today.”


Patrick Laperle, who had finished second, third, and fourth, in previous ACT Invitational’s came up just one spot short again.    The Quebec invader was disappointed with the second-place finish, but says that he’ll be back next year trying even harder to win.


“The only problem on this track was Wayne,” Laperle said jokingly after the race.  “He was way too fast.  His car was pretty much perfect all around.  I finished second again and will come back next year.”


Three-time ACT Invitational winner Eddie MacDonald came from the 17th starting spot to finish third.  For the first time in six years, his team brought a new car to the track this weekend.


“We struggled a little bit in practice this morning,” said MacDonald.  “Rollie (LaChance) and the guys through some changes at it and got it going pretty good.  Congratulations to Wayne and those guys, they deserve it.  I’m just happy to get a third-place run.  We’ll come back and do it again.”


For Helliwell, his win on Saturday was the highlight of an otherwise rough season for the two-time ACT champion.  Just a few weeks ago, he saw a win in the Can-Am 200 at Circuit Riverside Speedway (QC) slip away when a steering part broke while leading.  A win in the ACT Invitational on NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend will helpt to ease the pain for Helliwell and his team.


“It’s huge because we were kind of on a lull.  You get spoiled with winning a lot and when that goes away it’s easy for everybody to lose focus and point fingers at each other.  It’s not like any of that was happening, but the morale was way down.  To be able to redeem ourselves here is going to carry us through the rest of the season I can tell you that.”


The American-Canadian Tour returns to action on October 3-4 for the People’s United Bank Milk Bowl at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl in Barre, Vermont.


A full on-demand replay of Saturday’s ACT Invitational can be found by visiting the following link: http://speed51.com/trackside-now-bond-act-invitational-at-new-hampshire/


-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51

-Photo Credit: Speed51.com


ACT Invitational Unofficial Results

Saturday, September 20, 2014 – New Hampshire Motor Speedway


1              27nh      Wayne Helliwell, Jr.

2              91qc       Patrick Laperle

3              17ma     Eddie MacDonald

4              97nh      Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.

5              48qc       Alex Labbe

6              58vt       Jimmy Hebert

7              7me       Glen Luce

8              16me     Travis Stearns

9              16vt       Scott Dragon

10           07ma     Tom Carey, Jr.

11           4ny         Brandon Atkins

12           8nh        Guy Caron

13           34nh      Todd Davis

14           29nh      Aaron Fellows

15           37t          Brian Hoar

16           38vt       Tyler Cahoon

17           50me     Jeff White

18           17ri         Jeff White

19           88vt       Jason Corliss

20           9me       Aaron Fellows

21           91ct        Larry Gelinas

22           19qc       Dany Trepanier

23           9vt          Chip Grenier

24           84qc       Martin Latulippe

25           9ma       Brian Tagg

26           15me     Ben Ashline

27           20nh      Taylor Martin

28           78qc       Stephane Decoste

29           28me     Rowland Robinson, Jr.

30           11ny      Josh Masterson

31           11nh      Brett Gervais

32           66vt       Jason Corliss

33           77ma     Jimmy Linardy

34           49nh      Matt Anderson

35           10vt       Josh Demers

36           10ma     John Falconi

37           9nh        Kyle Welch

38           41vt       Jamie Aube

39           5ri           Rich Staskowski

40           3vt          Rick Roberts

41           99vt       Cody Blake

42           15vt       Joey Laquerre

43           41qc       Jonathan Bouvrette

Helliwell Wins ACT Invitational in the Dark at NHMS