With myriad tire strategies at hand in Saturday night’s Midsummer Classic 250 at White Mountain Motorsports Park, Dillon Moltz and his Brackett Motorsports team settled on the simplest one of all.
In only his second American-Canadian Tour start since 2017, Moltz managed a single set of tires from start to finish, driving away from Jimmy Hebert to win the 250-lap marathon and the $10,000 winner’s share of the purse.
Moltz’s strategy looked dubious as he faltered on a lap-158 restart, but the three-time ACT Tour feature winner took the lead back with 66 laps remaining, then pulled away to his fourth career Tour win and his third at the North Woodstock, N.H. quarter-mile.
For Moltz, a Waterford, Conn. native who now calls New Sharon, Maine home, the win was the biggest of his career thus far.
But to get there, Moltz had to come from deep in the field, starting sixteenth in a field of 28 Late Models culled from the best of the ACT touring ranks and WMMP’s own weekly warriors.
Polesitter Ryan Kuhn jumped out to an early lead, with the sophomore Tour regular keeping Christopher Pelkey and veterans DJ Shaw and Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. in his mirror. Pole’s car erupted in a plume of smoke on lap 61, oiling down the track and bringing out the race’s first caution flag. On the restart, a lapped car in the lead pack held up Kuhn, allowing Pelkey to slip ahead and lead his first laps of the evening.
A multi-car incident brought out the next caution at lap 74, bringing the field to the pits for a mandatory fuel-only stop. On the restart, DJ Shaw surged into the lead, with Moltz getting past Pelkey for the runner-up spot.
Shaw and Moltz traded the lead back and forth, with Shaw taking point for a long green-flag run through halfway. Moltz wrested the lead back on lap 141 in traffic, with Shaw holding off a challenge from Bryan Kruczek.
A spin for Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. brought out the pivotal caution with 158 laps complete. The prior cautions had put multiple tire strategies into play, leaving Moltz at the front of the field on old tires. Shaw, Kuhn, Nick Sweet, and Alby Ovitt were among those who came pitside for tires and adjustments, while Moltz, Bryan Kruczek, and Scott Payea remained on the track. The cars with fresh tires lined up toward the back of the top ten, hoping they could rise to the top with just under 100 laps remaining.
Kruczek charged into the lead at the drop of the green flag, and as Jimmy Hebert challenged Moltz for second, the no-tire gamble looked like an error. But Kruczek slipped back to third, with Moltz keeping pressure on Hebert’s bumper for the lead.
Moltz took the lead back from Hebert on a lap-183 restart, and this time, he kept it for good.
Hebert, who nearly won last year’s 250 on a four-tire strategy, settled for second place. Unlike his closest competition, Hebert had a points battle to consider, and the consolation prize was a strong finish to apply toward the season-ending championship standings.
Jason Corliss, a winner at Thunder Road International Speedbowl earlier this year and second in Thunder Road’s weekly standings, finished third. Scott Payea was fourth in his first ACT Tour start of 2020. Bryan Kruczek, despite being involved in the lap-74 incident, held on for a fifth-place run, finally notching his first top-five after struggling through the first three races of the year.
Dylan Payea, Scott’s younger cousin, was a season-best sixth, followed by multi-time WMMP track champion Quinny Welch, Kuhn, Derek Gluchacki, and Shaw. Despite the new tires, Kuhn, Gluchacki and Shaw could never carve their way through traffic in the final green-flag run.
Corliss, Renfrew, and Ben Rowe won the qualifying heats, with Rowe making his first ACT Tour start since 2013. Stephen Donahue and runner-up Hebert won the consis, with Kruczek racing his way in via the B-feature.
The race opened with sad news, signified by the absence of reigning ACT Tour champion Rich Dubeau. Dubeau’s brother and crew chief David passed away earlier in the week.
Moltz’s fourth career ACT win comes nearly three years after his last touring series win, an ACT victory at White Mountain Motorsports Park in 2017. Since finishing second in the title hunt that year, Moltz has raced part-time, focusing on the Pro All Stars Series with a sole Granite State Pro Stock Series race last year. Moltz was the 2014 GSPSS champion.
With late-race struggles for Kuhn and Shaw, and three of the top five finishers on part-time schedules, Jimmy Hebert will unofficially take the points lead as he searches for his first American-Canadian Tour series crown. Hebert has one win on the season already, claiming the season-opening Spring Green at WMMP.
The race that became the Midsummer Classic was initially a 250-lap special event for WMMP’s own weekly Late Models, staged in celebration of the speedway’s silver-anniversary season. With the sale of the track in late 2018, the 250-lapper became a part of the ACT Tour schedule for 2019. The first two runnings went to former Oxford 250 winners, with Eddie MacDonald taking the first and three-time Tour champ Wayne Helliwell, Jr. winning the second.
With neither MacDonald nor Helliwell entered Saturday evening, a first-time winner was guaranteed.
White Mountain Motorsports Park’s Midsummer Classic weekend continues with the PASS North Super Late Models racing Sunday afternoon. The next event on the ACT Tour schedule is the pandemic-rescheduled Gardiner & June Leavitt Memorial 150 next Saturday at Riverside Speedway. Jimmy Hebert won the Tour’s last appearance at the Groveton, N.H. track in 2018.
Official Results, Midsummer Classic 250 at White Mountain Motorsports Park:
1. (5ME) Dillon Moltz
2. (58VT) Jimmy Hebert
3. (66VT) Jason Corliss
4. (37VT) Scott Payea
5. (19NH) Bryan Kruczek
6. (7NH) Dylan Payea
7. (78NH) Quinny Welch
8. (72MA) Ryan Kuhn
9. (03MA) Derek Gluchacki
10. (04VT) DJ Shaw
11. (35NH) Alby Ovitt
12. (36VT) Joel Hodgdon
13. (64VT) Christopher Pelkey
14. (25NH) Jesse Switser
15. (5MA) Tom Carey III
16. (21NH) Oren Remick
17. (49NH) Matt Anderson
18. (2VT) Stephen Donahue
19. (40VT) Nick Sweet
20. (00NH) Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
21. (4ME) Ben Rowe
22. (72VT) Scott Coburn
23. (10NH) Bryan Mason
24. (01NH) Sammy Gooden
25. (86VT) Marcel J. Gravel
26. (32NH) Jeff Marshall
27. (18NH) Jon Savage
28. (97NH) Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.