Waterbury, VT – The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model Tour begins its 24th year of competition on Saturday, April 18 at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, ME. The event is the first of three events in 16 days – a critical early stretch in determining who will contend for the 2015 championship and the $10,000 prize that comes with it.
Following the ACT Late Model’s 150-lap event on the 3/8th-mile oval, the Tour will travel to Lee USA Speedway in Lee, NH for the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150 on Sunday, April 26. The event was postponed from its original April 12 date due to on-going winter weather. ACT then goes to Barre, VT’s Thunder Road Speedbowl on Sunday, May 3 for the Merchant’s Bank 150.
A strong start to the season is essential for any driver who hopes to capture the ACT Championship. In four of the last five years, the eventual Tour Champion led the point standings after three races. The lone exception came in 2013, when eventual Champion Wayne Helliwell Jr. ranked third in the standings following the third event.
In 2014, the top four drivers in the points after three races – Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Jimmy Hebert, Ray Parent, and Emily Packard – finished the season ranked in those exact same spots. Williamstown, VT’s Hebert, who is entering his fourth year on the Tour in his familiar black-and-orange #58VT, knows the first few events are as crucial as ever.
“It sets the tone for the rest of the season,” Hebert said. “As tight as the competition is on the rest of our series, you can’t afford to give up one race, to say nothing about getting off to a bad start. So it’s very important to get off on the right foot and get a good jump in the points to help carry us through the rest of the year.”
Conversely, a slow start to the 13-race Tour schedule will be hard to fight back from. Last year, only one driver who was outside the top-10 in points following the third race managed to finish the year inside the top-10. Winthrop, ME’s Jeff White was 12th in points after three races and moved up to 10th at the end of the year.
Veterans and newcomers alike will thus be fighting for every position they can in this early quarter of the season. Young drivers such as Kyle Welch and Brandon Atkins, who finished 11th and 12th in the standings in 2014, know this early stretch could be the difference in whether they crack the top-10 or top-five in 2015. Conversely, established stars such as Polewarczyk and Parent know a rough three events could be too much to overcome in their drive for the championship.
The ACT Tour’s best will kick off their championship chase this Saturday, April 18 at Oxford Plains Speedway as part of the first-ever twin bill between ACT and the Pro All Stars Series (PASS). Both the ACT Late Models and the PASS North Super Late Models will run 150-lap features. The PASS Modifieds, Wicked Cool Midgets, and Oxford Street Stocks will also be in action. Post time is 2:00pm, with the main gates opening at 9:30am. Admission for the full program is $30 for adults and $15 for juniors ages 6-12.
-ACT Press Release. Photo credit: Leif Tillotson