Strap In Racing Column — Oct. 12, 2019

The Flying Tigers have been a weekly division at Thunder Road since 1982, and many of its top racers are making the trip to Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway on October 19. Shown here Michael MacAskill (33), Cooper Bouchard (7) and Tyler Austin in the 5. (Photo by Buzz Fisher)

ACT Late Model Tour Wraps Up 2019 Season at Thompson (CT) Oct. 12

One hundred and ninety-five days ago, ACT made the trip to Richmond (VA) Raceway for a non-point-counting event. Since then they have raced 10 point-counting events and three other non-point events. Rich Dubeau, the Tour point leader, in his fifth season running ACT, simply needs to drive his No. 30NH, into pits and he’ll become the 2019 Champion.

He’ll be the 12th different driver to win an ACT Late Model Championship. He joins Dave Whitcomb, Brian Hoar (8 championships), Jean-Paul Cyr (7), Lance Ferno, Pete Fecteau and Phil Scott. Also Patrick Laperle, Wayne Helliwell Jr. (3), Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Nick Sweet and Scott Payea (2).

Seventy-seven different drivers have won one of the 310 point-counting Tour events run to date. The present Late Models started in 1992.

• This will be the Tour’s sixth stop at Thompson, the first time was October 17, 2015. They ran there on June 15, 2019. Jimmy Hebert won with Mod regular Woody Pitkat chasing him across the finish line. Rounding out the top 5 that day were Bryan Kruczek, Scott Payea and Ryan Kuhn.

• Dubeau and William Wall are the only two guys who have run all five events.

• Payea and Pitkat have the most top 5s, with three each.

• Payea and Wall’s four top 10s lead that category

• The most lead changes was seven back in June.

• The most caution flags was seven also in June.

• The fewest caution flags was four in 2016.

• Last October, Hebert gained 18 positions, the most ever.

• The race was 100 laps in 2015, Hoar won.

• In 2016 Bobby Therrien won the 75 lapper in just over 46 minutes.

• Other winners there are Eddie MacDonald and Wall.

PASS

I can’t find anyone who can tell me why only 12 PASS cars showed up a couple of weeks ago at Thunder Road. There were 26 cars at WMMP the week before.

I’d love to see a field that included the likes of Travis Benjamin, Derek Griffith, DJ Shaw, Johnny Clark, Ben Ashline, Cassius Clark, Curtis Gerry, Alan Tardiff, Nick Sweet, Ray Christian III, Dave Farrington Jr., Ben Rowe and Shawn Martin racing at the Road.

Plus, Trevor Sanborn, Scott Robbins, Evan Halstrom, Ryan Kuhn, Mike Rowe, Glen Luce, Gabe Brown, Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Tracy Gordon, Tim Brackett, Garrett Hall, Eddie MacDonald, TJ Brackett and Bryan Kruczek.

I just don’t get it. I did chat with a guy who told me it may just be the travel. His thought was most of these guys come from Maine and there’s just no good route to get to Barre. I don’t understand that, but who knows?

• PASS has two races left in their season – the PASS weekend October 19 at Oxford Plains Speedway.

• And Seekonk (MA) Speedway, October 26 at 1 p.m.

Thunder Road Tigers

The Tigers are headed to Oxford, October 19, for a 75-lapper paying $750 to win. The list of drivers going includes reigning champion Jason Woodard, Rookie of the Year Stephen Martin and 2019 winners at The Road, Cooper Bouchard, Mike Martin, Colin Cornell, Kevin Streeter, and Sam Caron. Also top 10 drivers Tyler Austin, Logan Powers, and Kelsea Woodard have filed entries along with part-timers Adam Maynard and Brian Delphia.

At least two winners at White Mountain Motorsports Park this season are on the list, Christian Laflamme and Matt Potter, along with Speedway 51 regulars Mike Clark, Jon and Kevin Boutin plus current Late Model competitor Cody LeBlanc.

John and son Stephen Donahue – both former Flying Tiger champions at Thunder Road – are getting back behind the wheel of Tiger cars for the event. Add in drivers like Jerrad Ledger and Brian Gosselin and it should be an exciting show.

The Flying Tigers are the oldest active division sanctioned by ACT and have long been considered the top support division in the Northeast. The modern incarnation of the Tiger class has been a weekly division at Barre, VT’s Thunder Road since 1982. Flying Tigers are also on the weekly card at WMMP and Groveton, NH’s Speedway 51. Over the past 38 years, the Flying Tigers have raced at current and former tracks around the region, including Plattsburgh, Sanair, Canaan, Lee and Catamount Stadium.

The Flying Tiger Oxford Open is part of the PASS 400 Weekend.

Cup Stuff

Austin Theriault is back in the No. 51 this weekend at ’Dega.

• Kyle Larson’s last win came at Richmond in September of 2017, 75 races ago. In that time he had nine seconds, 38 top 10s and 15 segment wins.

This is the sixth year of this elimination format and Chip Ganassi Racing (car owner of Larson’s 42 and the No. 1 of Kurt Busch) only has two previous wins in the playoffs, and none in the past six years and has never had a driver in the Round of 8.

It’s been nine years, back in 2010, since both of his cars won in the same year. Juan Pablo Montoya had a win and Jamie McMurray won three times that year.

• In the last four races, Martin Truex Jr. has been the highest finishing Joe Gibbs driver.

• You can tell me all you want about how important gaining points is, but Joey Logano not getting out of the way of the leaders at Dover may very well come back to bite him.

He could have jumped to the high side and rode around and no one would have noticed. But, for whatever reason, he chose to race like he was trying to win while 20-plus laps down.

• Eleven drivers picked up their first Cup Series win at Talladega including Richard Brickhouse 1969, Dick Brooks 1973, Lennie Pond 1978, Ron Bouchard 1981, Bobby Hillin Jr. 1986 and Davey Allison in 1987. Ken Schrader and Phil Parsons did it in 1988, also Brian Vickers 2006, Brad Keselowski 2009 and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2017.

Two notes: One, I remember watching Bouchard in 1981 when, with like two laps to go, the TV lost the picture but the audio still worked. Later we found out part of the winnings went to buying a new TV. Seems Ron’s dad went a little bit crazy and threw his TV at a wall.

Two, Davey’s win was the last time Cup cars raced at ’Dega and Daytona without restrictor plates. This was the race when his Dad Bobby got up into the catch fence. It was a tad eerie watching Davey driving around the debris and then stopping to see if his Dad was OK.

Flash Back

April 6, 2003 – In a race that saw 43 lead changes, including eight over the final 13 laps, Dale Jr., Matt Kenseth and a host of others battled in the closing laps of this high-speed chess match. With four laps to go, Junior used a big run on the inside to take the lead from that year’s eventual champion. Kenseth took the lead back with three to go, but then Junior came back to the lead with two to go and then put on a clinic in holding the lead for his fourth win in a row at ’Dega.

Until Next Week

That white stuff that falls from the sky will be covering up your short track soon. So get out to a track, but remember: “If you’re not having fun, stay home and don’t bother those of us who are.”

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