Scott Payea walked away victorious after another American-Canadian Tour classic, winning the 150-lap Summer Showdown Series main event at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl (CT) on Saturday night.
Payea held off a hard-charging Eddie MacDonald in the closing laps to secure his second win of the season.
With the win, Payea extended his championship points lead, courtesy of his fifth top-five finish and second win in the five races so far this season.
The afternoon started out with some rough racing in the heat races. Both James Linardy and Miles Chipman crashed hard in the second heat race, and both sustained enough damage to keep them from participating in the feature.
The early part of the race was dominated by Rich Dubeau and Jimmy Hebert, with both drivers spending considerable time in the lead. As the night wore on, however, Dubeau’s car started to fade, and Hebert was joined at the front by Scott Payea, who was working his way up from a 10th-place starting position.
As Dubeau faded, Eddie MacDonald took his place and continued the fight with Payea, with Hebert falling to a relatively distant third. MacDonald fought as hard as he could, but he could never get the gap to Payea under half a second, even though both drivers had to deal with considerable lapped traffic.
“Not a bad night, well worth the drive,” exclaimed Payea after the race. “We had a great car, we started tenth and picked our way up into the top five and just worked towards the front. Battled with Jimmy real hard there, swapped the lead a couple times, that was a lot of fun, and we were able to pull away there at the end at take home the win. It was awesome.”
Second-place finisher Eddie MacDonald was left wondering if a late-race caution may have helped him in the fight against Payea.
“We could have used a caution at the end just to see if we could have given the outside a try,” MacDonald stated. “It seemed like that was the place to be for the restarts. Really would have liked to get another one of those $5,000 wins, but the guys did a good job and gave us a good car.”
Third-place finisher Jimmy Hebert was also left second guessing his strategy early on, with the Vermonter having used up his tires while trying to build a gap up front.
“What happened was the first half of the race, I got the lead pretty easy and then I kept wanting to stretch it out to about ten car lengths, so if I got into lap traffic I wouldn’t have anybody on my back bumper and I’d get some cars between us,” Hebert said. “Every time we’d just get to about ten car lengths and I’d go back into save mode, the caution would come out. It was like the perfect scenario every time, but it just made me eat up too much tires.”
Mike Ziter and Bryan Mason completed the top-five with impressive performances at the Connecticut shoreline oval.
Front row starter Rich Dubeau fell back to sixth position, with his car not adapting well to the cooler nighttime conditions. Connecticut man Ryan Morgan was involved in a heated battle towards the front of the field for the majority of the race, but he also used up too much of his car and slipped back to seventh. Corey Mason, Tyler Chapman, and Rookie of the Year contender Dylan Payea finished out the top ten.
The American-Canadian Tour will have nearly a full month off before returning to action on July 14 at Speedway 51 in New Hampshire.
Race fans can find on-demand Trackside Now coverage of Saturday’s event at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl by clicking here.
-Story by Ian Pettigrew, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com