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ACT “Opener” Changed After Second Postponement: Northeast Late Model Update

Each week, Short Track Scene looks back at results and news from northern New England’s Late Model and Super Late Model competition, from the region’s premier tours — the American-Canadian Tour, the Granite State Pro Stock Series, and the Pro All Stars Series — to the tracks and drivers that support them. Thanks to the local journalists and fans who report in from the track each week to keep their fellow fans informed.

PASS NORTH: TEAMS REGROUP FOR OXFORD HOMECOMING

After a season opener at the fastest track on the schedule, the Pro All Stars Series North teams return to the series’ home state for the first of five features at the legendary Oxford Plains Speedway. And with an extra week to prepare for the second points race of the season, the entry list has swelled with additional drivers trying to claim a PASS feature win on familiar turf.

Last year, Reid Lanpher managed exactly that feat. Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. dominated the 150-lap feature early, but mechanical failure just past halfway left the battle for the lead to Lanpher and Glen Luce. Lanpher, a weekly regular at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, prevailed in the closing laps to win his first career PASS North feature.

Lanpher was going to miss the Oxford race, due to a scheduling conflict with an opportunity in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Following the rescheduling, though, Lanpher’s name appeared on the entry list, as the young Mainer looks to keep up momentum after a fourth-place run at Thompson Speedway earlier this month.

Lanpher is far from the only late entry to Sunday’s Honey Badger Bar & Grill 150. Cassius Clark and Rollie MacDonald’s King Racing team will make the trip from Nova Scotia. Lonnie Sommerville and Jarrett Butcher, two racers from the Maritimes, are also on the entry list. Brad Babb, who spent 2017 racing Supermodifieds after a couple years racing on the ACT Tour, has filed an entry with his own #4ME SLM.

Not on the entry list for this weekend are Derek Ramstrom, who usually runs a limited schedule, and Nick Sweet, whose full plans for 2018 are still unknown. Dillon Moltz remains entered in the #5M, with the ACT race at Lee postponed yet again, though he has not confirmed any plans to chase an ACT title.

Oxford’s weekly Championship Series lineup will begin their season on Saturday afternoon in conjunction with a planned test day for the PASS North teams. A number of Oxford’s weekly racers will surely be in the field on Sunday, and a few of the PASS visitors will likely use Saturday’s fifty-lap SLM feature as a tune-up for Sunday afternoon’s race.

ACT TOUR: GOVERNOR’S CUP POSTPONED AGAIN, THUNDER ROAD BECOMES SEASON OPENER

Last year’s ACT Tour season started off with a brutal streak of weather delays, as the season’s fourth race was the first of the season to go off as scheduled. Unfortunately for the Vermont-based Tour, 2018 is getting off to a similar start.

Lee USA Speedway announced this week that the Governor’s Cup 150 opening weekend, initially scheduled for this Sunday, has been postponed again due to the winter weather. Heavy winter snow, a deluge of rain, and late-season cold temperatures have left the Wrenns unable to prepare the speedway grounds for the incoming crowds.

The Governor’s Cup 150 will instead roll off on Saturday, May 12. Friday will be used for the usual Test & Tune open practice session for ACT teams and all weekly classes. Lee’s weekly Late Model Sportsman class will still be a supporting division, but now their race will count for season points. The other support division scheduled for the Governor’s Cup, the Northeast Classic Lites dwarf-car series, is scheduled to race that evening at Star Speedway in nearby Epping. While Lee rarely if ever races on Saturdays, Sunday is Mother’s Day, and Mother’s Day features are usually poorly attended and typically avoided.

ACT’s home track, Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, VT, will now host the Tour’s opening weekend next Sunday, April 29. The ACT Tour teams, bolstered by Thunder Road’s weekly Late Model contingent, will compete in the Community Bank N.A. 150, with Thunder Road’s weekly classes scheduled as support events.

With warmer weather rolling in this weekend, the Wrenns have taken some criticism for postponing the race weekend, but the issue is not limited to the forecast. Lee’s parking lots, one along NH Route 125 and one behind the track and pit area, are below the highway grade and tend to be muddy after the spring thaw. With minimal sun, cold temperatures, and a deluge of rain in the past couple weeks, the parking areas have simply not had time to dry out. The track might be ready for racing, but the grounds need time to dry, and the month of April has been cruel in that regard. A couple more weeks and a change of temperatures will make attending the Governor’s Cup a better experience for all.

NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE

The PASS North season finally gets its second race of the season underway Sunday afternoon at Oxford Plains Speedway. Teams will have a week to prepare for the season’s third event next Saturday at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway.

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Jeff Brown is a contributor to Short Track Scene. Brown provides a fan's perspective as he follows New England's regional late-model touring series.

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