Tuesday, April 21, 2009

NH Governor’s Cup 150 Notebook

Along with Brad Leighton’s victory in the season-opening New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150, there were several interesting story lines to emerge from Lee USA.
First off, all this talk about gloom-and-doom regarding the economy didn’t have much effect on the car count. Forty-five Late Models filed into the pits for Saturday’s practice, and every one of them attempted to qualify on Sunday. To me, that’s a pretty good indicator of a healthy tour. I know, numbers will fall off some as the season progresses, but that’s still one heck of a way to kick off a new season.
Since most of my Saturday evenings are spent trackside at Oxford Plains Speedway during the summer, I was very pleased to see such a strong contingent of Oxford cars at Lee. Shawn Martin, Travis Stearns, Ricky Rolfe and Corey Morgan all made the trip to Lee. Luck wasn’t on their side, however, as Lewiston’s Morgan was the only one to make the show.
I know, Rolfe is technically an ACT guy now, but I’ll always know him as an Oxford regular. The veteran from Albany Township was in a qualified position when contact knocked him out of contention in a Consi. Martin struggled with an ill-handling car during qualifying, but started on th pole of the B Feature. Unfortunately, is was not meant to be on this day.
Stearns, of Auburn, Maine, never quite got up to speed at Lee. The 3/8-mile oval is vastly different than Oxford, and as it turns out quite a challenge to figure out. Hopefully, the next time some of our Oxford warriors venture out to a new track, things will be different.
Vermont veteran Brian Hoar and two-time NASCAR champion Mike Olsen are looking good in their new ACT Late Model rides. Hoar will run full-time in 2009 while Olsen has a part-time in place now and is working to secure funding for more races. I spoke with both drivers just prior to the Governor’s Cup 150 about their return to ACT competition.
“This is a new role for me as a driver,” explained Hoar. “I’m with a great team, one that has enjoyed success in the past, and I’m hoping to continue that tradition. Mike and I have strong cars here today, we just hope to keep them up front and be there at the end when it counts.”
Hoar led the 150 briefly, faded during the late stages and brought the car home to a solid ninth-place finish. Not exactly where he wanted to be after 150 laps, but a solid start nonetheless.
“This is definitely a good car,” explained Olsen before the race. “I was pretty nervous in the heat race, I knew I had to get in the show. I enjoy racing in this series, the atmosphere is fun and these guys race clean on the track. These cars (Late Models) are kind of difficult to drive, they have be dialed in perfectly to run up front. With spec shocks and spec engines, there isn’t a whole lot of adjustment to them. But it’s all about controlling costs for the teams, and judging from the field of cars and today’s crowd, I’d say it’s a successful combination.”
Indeed, ACT president Tom Curley does have a winning formula with the ACT Late Model tour. And isn’t it ironic that Brad Leighton, the driver with the most wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) in NASCAR’s Camping World East Series, becomes the first to qualify for the prestigious ACT Invitational to be held on Saturday, September 19 on the famed “Magic Mile.” Leighton loves to win big races in his home state, so betting against him on that day might be a bad move.
Tyler Cahoon is a second-generation driver from St. Johnsbury, Vermont. The former standout at White Mountain Motorsports Park is starting his sophomore campaign in ACT, and is doing so with flair. Cahoon looked impressive in qualifying, winning his Heat in front of some experienced drivers.
“This is quite a difference from last year,” explained Cahoon, who failed to qualify last year at Lee. “We wrestled with a worn-our car all last season, and to drive a new one this year and have it run this good right off the bat is very satisfying. We think we’re in for better results in 2009, now I just have to go out and do my job in the feature and keep it near the front.” Cahoon finished 17th in the 150, a decent run for the young hotshoe from Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.
The 2009 running of the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150 is in the books. We learned the depth of talent is almost endless on the ACT circuit; with a fine mix of veterans, newcomers and locally-based talent. We expect a different crop of drivers to excel at Thunder Road on Sunday, May 3, since the Barre high-banks can be a totally different animal to conquer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Next stop: ACT season opener at Lee USA

With the 2008-09 snocross season fading into memory, it's time to shift gears and get ready to kick off the 2009 local stock car racing campaign. For many years, we did this by making the trek to Red & Judy MacDonald's beautiful Lee USA Speedway in Lee, New Hampshire. For most of the 1990s, the old NASCAR Busch North Series (now known as the Camping World Series East) got its season rolling with a 150-lap contest at Lee. These days, it's the ACT Late Model tour that draws us to Lee, and we're mighty excited to go.

Following the news of an ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) in September, Late Model drivers around the region perked up and took notice. Drivers who win an ACT tour event (both the US circuit and Serie ACT Castrol in Canada) will be eligible to compete in Loudon. I expect close to 50 entries on hand at Lee this coming Sunday (April 19), all gunning to be the first qualified driver for the Invitational. Hudson, NH, native Joey Polewarczyk won the 2008 version of the New Hampshire Governor's Cup, with Eddie MacDonald second and Cris Michaud third. Who will come out on top this Sunday? Join us to find out. I guarantee a day filled with side-by-side racing and high drama. The ACT tour delivers that every race, and those Late Models are not only fast but semi-affordable (compared to a Pro Stock) for those who race them.

After our trip to Lee USA this Sunday, we'll get ready for a trip to Vermont as Ken Squire's famed Thunder Road International Speedbowl kicks off its 50th season. The Merchants Bank 150 is set for Sunday, May 3. A lot of news has been flowing out of T-Road lately, first with Tony Stewart coming to race one of Joey Pole's cars in the Vermont Governor's Cup on Thursday, June 25. Next came the news that Bobby Allison will visit the track on Thursday, June 18. Allison last visited the track in 1999. And yesterday (April 13) the ACT office announced that "King " Richard Petty will also visit Thunder Road on July 30 as part of the 50th anniversary celebration. As you can see, fans are in for some real treats this year at "The Nation's Site of Excitement."

Congratulations to Turner's Ben Rowe for his victory this past Saturday night in the 4th annual Easter Bunny 150 at the historic Hickory Motor Speedway. Hickory was Round 2 on the 2009 Pro All Stars Series (PASS) South schedule. Rowe also claimed the season opener at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, SC. Rowe is on a real hot streak this Spring, and will attempt to make it three straight wins this Sunday at Speedway 95 in Hermon, Maine as PASS North kicks off its 2009 campaign. Richard Moody Racing (RMR) puts a fabulous car under Ben every time out, and he certainly has the skills to get the most out of good equipment.

We have a great deal to look forward to in the 2009 short track season. From all the excitement surrounding the ACT tour, to the three Wallace family members (Rusty, Kenny & Steven) coming to the TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford, race fans in the northeast are jumping for joy. While they may have already been racing for weeks down south, we'll have our turn in short order.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

RMR wraps up 2009 season at Windham Mountain

Boron, Morin split Pro finals in Windham for Rock Maple Racing snocross series

WINDHAM, NY (April 6, 2009) — Multi-time champion Jason Boron and Quebec veteran Mathieu Morin split the Pro finals on Sunday afternoon, as Rock Maple Racing (RMR) completed the final Central series snocross event of the 2008-09 season at the Windham Mountain ski resort.
Boron, of Leverett, MA, piloted his Outdoor Performance/D&Z Racing Ski-doo to victory in Pro Open, with John O’Malley second and Kenny Murphy third. Other than Jason’s brother Matt (Malone, NY) and Jason Stone (Barton, VT), O’Malley (Verona, NY) was the only other rider besides Danny Poirier (Hulten Speed Sports Polaris)) to post a win all season.
Morin (XP-S Ski-doo), of Val D’or, Quebec, earned a rare RMR Pro victory with a convincing performance in Pro Stock. Morin, who recently concluded his season for Warnert Racing on the ISOC national circuit, held off Boron and Renaud Alexandre for top honors.
Defending Pro Vet champion Joe Lemieux (Ski-doo) scored another final round win over Joel Santy and Rene Desrochers. Lemieux, of St. Johnsbury, VT, was on top of his game with fast and consistent runs all season. Joe’s niece Michelle also capped a strong 2009 effort with a win Sunday, holding off Janell Smith and cousin Steffanie Lemieux in the Pro Women final.
In Semi-Pro action Sunday, Aaron Pfeifer and Jake Melville both recorded final round wins. Pfeifer, of Blossvale, NY, converted the momentum built from his victory in the Shootout at Findley Lake into a win in Stock 600. Pfeifer out-gunned fellow New York rider Cory Ostrander and Melville to earn the win. Melville, of Pownal, VT, helped his chances in the final point standings with his win in Semi-Pro Open. Pfeifer finished a close second, while Nick Kelley came home third.
In Sport division action at Windham, Joey Mosher and Joey Stock each registered wins. Mosher, of Salem, NH, rode his Team Explosive Ski-doo to victory in Saturday’s Super Stock final, with Stock second and Travis Brisbin third. Stock, of Bearsville, NY, claimed Sunday’s Super Stock final over Simon Taillefer and Dylan Bisson. Stock also claimed the Sport Stock 600 final over Chris Ingles and Brisbin on Sunday.
Will Fletcher (16-17 Stock 600 Fan) and Whitney Covill (16-17 Stock 500) led a long list of winners in Junior division action in Windham. Jake Scott won the 14-15 Stock 600 Fan final over Nick Zielinski and Trevor Boutin. Maine-based rider Nick St. Amand rode his Arctic Cat to victory in the 14-15 Stock 500 final, with Scott second and Boutin third. Other Junior division winners include Leo Patenaude (10-13 Stock 380 Fan) and Hunter Sherwood (8-10 300 Freestyle Saturday & Sunday).
Other final round winners in Central series action over the weekend in Windham include Kory Bouthillier (Sport 500); Joe Klimas (Sport Stock 600 Fan); Joel Santy (Plus 35 Masters); Christian Ellsworth (Plus 25 Stock); Amanda Kirchmeyer (Women Stock 600 Sat.); Steffanie Lemieux (Women Stock 600 Sun.); Sarah Acker (Women Stock Novice & Jr. Girls 10-13 Stock 600 Fan); and Ian Liebmann (Trail 600 Saturday).
Some of RMR’s West series teams also concluded their 2008-09 season in Windham over the weekend. Riders in the Sport and Junior divisions took center stage, with several young athletes rising to the occasion.
Simon Taillefer piloted his Ski-doo to victory in Saturday’s Sport Super Stock final, while Nathan Leclaire claimed Sunday’s battle. Michael Sickler made the long haul from Harvey’s Lake, PA, worthwhile with his win in Sport 500. Ryan Jabs completes our list of Sport division winners after out-dueling Leclaire and Trevor Day in Stock 600.
In West series Junior division action, Montana Jess and Matt Cameron were up to their old tricks. Jess, of Westminster, MA, won the 10-13 Stock 380 Fan final on Saturday and Sunday, while Cameron, of Redfield, NY, won the 10-13 Stock 600 Fan final on Saturday. Other final round winners include Jesse Bonaduce (Jr. 16-17 Stock 500 Sat. & Sun.); Leo Patenaude (Jr. 10-13 Stock 380 Fan); Tyler Zuidema (Jr. 14-15 Stock 500 Sat.); Michelle Lemieux (Plus 25 Stock); and Hunter Nelson (Jr. 14-15 Stock 500 Sunday).
Rock Maple Racing would like to thank the entire staff at the beautiful Windham Mountain for hosting our 2009 season finale. Snow conditions held up for the weekend despite heavy rains on Friday. To conclude our racing season at such a fine facility is very rewarding.
RMR would also like to thank its many fine sponsors, including Amsoil, Choko, Ingles Performance, Scott Goggles, Woody’s Traction & Control, Pump-X, TekVest, Camoplast, Al’s Snowmobile Parts Warehouse, PowerMadd, The Crank Shop, Sled Wraps, R.U. Outside, Ontario Snowmobiler Magazine, Marland Enterprises and Sunoco Race Fuels. The 2008-09 season would not have been possible without your support.
For full results in all classes from Windham or to learn more, please visit www.rockmaple.com.