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Kruczek sweeps Oxford with ACT 150 victory

ACT 150, Oxford, 08-2019
Bryan Kruczek (#19NH) lines up alongside Stephen Donahue (#2VT) for the final restart in Saturday's ACT 150. Kruczek held off the rookie to win his second career ACT Tour race and sweep 2019's events at Oxford. (Jeff Brown photo)

Prior to 2019, Bryan Kruczek had only eight career starts in American-Canadian Tour Late Model competition. Saturday night at Oxford Plains Speedway, he drove to victory lane for the second time in six starts this season, sweeping the ACT Tour’s appearances at Oxford.

Kruczek took the lead from Jesse Switser just past halfway, then held on through two late caution flags to beat Stephen Donahue for the win in the ACT 150, a preliminary event to Sunday’s Oxford 250.

PHOTOS: Check out photos from Saturday’s ACT and TTOMS events at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Starting 13th by virtue of his April win, Kruczek patiently worked through traffic in the race’s first half, passing Donahue for second on lap 72. When a caution drew the field back together a lap later, Kruczek seized the opportunity, taking the race lead away on lap 77. The Newmarket, N.H. racer kept Switser at bay for the next green-flag run, then fended off Donahue in a series of restarts to secure his second career ACT win.

“It’s amazing, it’s definitely one of the big races I want to win if not the 250 at least,” Kruczek said in Victory Lane. “This is a huge stage. I mean, the place is packed tonight. It’s a Saturday night and there’s thousands of people here; it’s a good time.”

Switser and Tour rookie Donahue were only two of the White Mountain Motorsports Park regulars who took full advantage of a week off for their weekly haunt. WMMP rookie Cody LeBlanc won a consi and started from the pole, leading the opening laps before Tour veteran Bobby Therrien moved to the top spot. Switser took second from LeBlanc and stalked down Therrien, taking charge 43 circuits into the race. Switser set a fast pace at the front of the field before a yellow flag erased his lead over Kruczek.

Donahue, running all but one Tour event this year while competing weekly at Vermont’s Thunder Road International Speedbowl and WMMP, earned his second consecutive runner-up finish and his second top-five run of the season.

“It’s only second but for me here it feels more like a win because we were second to last all practice all day long,” Donahue said after the race. “We were struggling, the car just wouldn’t react, it was spinning the tires all over the place, and then we bolted the new tires on for the heat race and it took off. We picked up eight tenths from the practice to the heat race.

“Finishing second is awesome and it’s Oxford. I’ve been coming here since I was a kid and I finally got to race here this year and I struggled here the first time I came, but to get second in only my second attempt I’m very happy.”

Reigning Tour champion Scott Payea came out on top of a dogfight for third place, with championship leader Rich Dubeau battling through traffic to finish fourth. Dylan Payea, younger cousin of Scott, came from the 26th starting position to round out the top five in a career-best effort.

“I feel great, I feel like we won,” Payea said. “We’re either really good or really bad here, there’s nothing in between, and today we were bad all day long. It was terrible, but the team never gave up. We changed more things today than I think we have in two years. It’s a tough track, the outside wasn’t really there, so we’ll take what we can get and we feel good about it.”

Points runner-up Jimmy Hebert was sixth, with Quebec’s Alexendre Tardif, rookies Ryan Kuhn and Trent Goodrow, and WMMP multi-time champion Quinny Welch rounding out the top ten.

Early leaders LeBlanc and Switser faded in the closing laps to finish 18th and 19th, while Bobby Therrien was involved in a multi-car crash with 14 laps remaining. Thirty-six cars took the green flag, with only one team sent home after a heat-race incident.

Kruczek’s victory also marks the second Tour win for first-year car owner Bobby Webber, Jr., owner of Star Speedway. Webber, who introduced ACT-type Late Models as a weekly division at the Epping, N.H. quarter-mile, fielded a part-time entry at Star last year before investing in a former Jimmy Hebert car for Tour competition this season. Webber called on Kruczek to wheel the #19NH entry in 2019, with plans to run part-time in anticipation of a full Tour schedule in 2020.

Prior to joining forces with Webber, Kruczek was a fixture on the Pro All Stars Series North schedule, with 2015 wins at Oxford and nearby Beech Ridge Motor Speedway to his credit.

Celebrations for the Webber team were sure to be short, as they shifted their attention to their Oxford 250 entry. Kruczek and Ryan Kuhn were both slated for double duty on the busy race weekend.

With his fourth-place finish, points leader Rich Dubeau was able to stretch his lead on Jimmy Hebert with only two races remaining on the ACT Tour itinerary. Scott Payea was able to gain points on Dubeau for the first time in weeks, but the two-time champ remains a distant third as Dubeau chases his first title.

The penultimate event of the 2019 schedule, the Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic 200 at Thunder Road, is next Sunday. The ten-race ACT Tour schedule concludes in October as part of the annual World Series at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway Motorsports Park.

American-Canadian Tour Oxford 150 Unofficial Results:

1          19NH  Bryan Kruczek
2          2VT     Stephen Donahue
3          37VT   Scott Payea
4          30NH  Rich Dubeau
5          7NH    Dylan Peyea
6          58VT   Jimmy Hebert
7          21BC   Alexandre Tardif
8          72MA  Ryan Kuhn
9          31MA  Trent Goodrow
10        78NH  Quinten Welch
11        31CT   Ryan Morgan
12        19QC   Dany Trepanier
13        28ME  Rowland Robinson, Jr.
14        5MA    Tom Carey III
15        00NH  Jimmy Renfrew Jr.
16        73ME  Dylan Turner
17        36VT   Joel Hodgdon
18        55NH  Cody LeBlanc
19        25NH  Jesse Switser
20        9QC     Mathieu Kingsbury
21        64VT   Christopher Pelkey
22        41QC   Jonathan Bouvrette
23        11QC   Claude LeClerc
24        72VT   Scott Coburn
25        50RI    Mike Benevides
26        61NH  Ryan Olsen
27        04VT   Bobby Therrien
28        04NH  Shawn Swallow
29        15VT   Craig Bushley
30        24VT   Steve Fisher
31        47NH  Brockton Davis
32        22VT   Peyton Lanphear
33        16VT   Scott Dragon
34        26VT   John Donahue
35        69ME  David MacDonald
36        21VT   Reilly Lanphear

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Jeff Brown is a contributor to Short Track Scene. A native of New Hampshire and a long-time fan of New England racing, Brown provides a fan's perspective as he follows New England's regional Late Model touring series.

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