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Renfrew Scores First Career ACT Tour Win at Hudson

The youngster claimed victory in ACT’s first visit to the New Hampshire track since 2001.

Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. flashes past the flagstand to claim his first-ever ACT Tour win in Sunday night's tilt at Hudson Speedway. (Jeff Brown photo)

The last time the American-Canadian Tour Late Models raced on the high banks of Hudson Speedway, Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. was not even born.

But on a night where none of his challengers had run an ACT Tour race at the track either, inexperience was an equalizer.

Renfrew took the point on the fourth lap, then held it all the way to the finish to claim his first career ACT Tour victory Sunday evening at the southern New Hampshire bullring.

And in the process, Renfrew joined an ever-growing club of first-time Tour winners in 2021.

PASS NORTH: Pole Earns Hometown Win

Ben Rowe and Tom Carey III flank race winner Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. in victory lane. (Jeff Brown photo)

“I can’t believe it, really,” Renfrew said in victory lane. “The cars are really good. I can’t thank everyone at Dale Shaw Race Cars enough.”

The Candia, N.H. driver started alongside Trent Goodrow, who led the first three laps before Renfrew took command. Joey Polewarczyk closed in on Renfrew for the early lead, but the hometown favorite cut a tire with 25 laps complete, sending Polewarczyk for a spin and bringing out the night’s first caution.

Ryan Kuhn inherited second from Polewarczyk, keeping pressure on Renfrew through a long green-flag stretch run. Kuhn closed the gap in lapped traffic, but Renfrew was strong enough to keep his advantage on clear track. Meanwhile, Polewarczyk worked his way from the rear back into the top five.

With 41 laps remaining, Erick Sands backed hard into the turn-two concrete, bringing out the third caution of the night and erasing Renfrew’s lead. Polewarczyk lined up fifth for the restart, only a few car-lengths back from a home-track win to pad his ACT career record.

Renfrew and Kuhn took off again, though, while “Joey Pole” faltered in the high groove. The 2015 ACT Tour champion clawed his way back to fifth, but fell off the pace with overheating issues a few laps later.

Tom Carey III, buoyed by his own first career Tour win a week ago, battled Kuhn for the runner-up spot while DJ Shaw waged his own battle with Tour sophomore Derek Gluchacki. Gluchacki made a move on Shaw for fourth before coming out on the losing end, drawing the fourth and final caution with only eleven laps left on the scoreboard.

Renfrew and Kuhn lined up for the final restart, but this time, Kuhn was unable to hang with Renfrew. Carey took advantage of Kuhn’s slip, charging into second with Ben Rowe following closely. Carey followed in Renfrew’s tire tracks, but he was unable to close the gap in the final laps.

A touring winner on the Granite State Pro Stock Series in 2018, Renfrew crossed the line over half a second ahead of the field for his first-ever ACT Tour victory.

Carey, who followed up last Saturday’s Tour win with a runner-up finish Wednesday night at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway, took the unofficial lead in the point standings with his second-place result. “We’ve ran three races now in a week, a first and two seconds. So we’ll take it.” “It’s a really hot track, a lot of long green runs, trying to keep the right rear under me, but by the time I got up to second, I just didn’t have enough.”

Rowe exited his heat early with car trouble, but the Richard Moody Racing team’s field repairs were good enough for the multi-time Pro All Stars Series champion to drive to a third-place finish. Not all the repairs were done in Hudson’s pit area, though. “We sent one guy to the hospital, he’s getting stitches right now, [putting] this back together after the heat,” Rowe said.

Kuhn held on for fourth in the late-race scramble, with Shaw ending the evening in fifth. A frustrated Gluchacki was sixth at the line, while Stephen Donahue was the final car on the lead lap in seventh.

Jimmy Hebert was a lap back in eighth, a modest rebound from the troubles that have plagued the defending champion since his season-opening win. Shawn Swallow ended the race in ninth, with Massachusetts rookie Jaret Curtis rounding out the top ten. Eighteen cars made the trip to Hudson, with Jesse Switser and Dylan Payea skipping the trip after recent on-track misfortunes.

The ACT Late Model Tour last raced at Hudson Speedway in 2001, the Tour’s only stop ever at the venerable bullring. Only two of the competitors that day, Derek Ming and the ageless Joey Laquerre, have made a Tour start in 2021. Other starters included ACT managing partner Cris Michaud and brothers Mark and Dwayne Lanphear, the father and uncle of current Tour racers Reilly and Peyton.

Renfrew’s win was the fourth-straight first-time win this year on the ACT Tour. Jimmy Hebert opened the season in victory lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Since then, Thunder Road regular Brooks Clark, Shaw and Carey have all notched their first Tour victories.

But wins for Shaw and Carey, and Clark as a home-track ringer, seemed in some way inevitable. Renfrew, still a young star on the rise, was not on the short list of anticipated victors heading into 2021. Sunday’s race was only his ninth start ever in Tour competition.

For all his youth, though, Renfrew is no neophyte. After cutting his racing teeth at Hudson Speedway and Star Speedway, Renfrew made the move to touring racing in 2018 with the GSPSS. In only four starts, he found his way to victory lane, driving back from an off-course excursion to win at Star.

Renfrew ran the full GSPSS schedule in 2019, but diversified his schedule in 2020, running select GSPSS and ACT Tour events. Renfrew also committed to a full-time Street Stock run at Lee USA Speedway, winning almost every feature at the track.

This year, Renfrew is racing weekly at White Mountain Motorsports Park, while running most of the ACT Tour events as well. Renfrew has two feature wins at WMMP so far; his second came less than 24 hours before his trip to Hudson.

Renfrew’s full touring plans may be up in the air. But as the ACT Tour schedule revisits some familiar tracks in the coming weeks, he will certainly be on the list of threats.

Unofficial Results, ACT Tour Hudson 150 at Hudson Speedway:
1. (00NH) Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
2. (5MA) Tom Carey III
3. (4ME) Ben Rowe
4. (72MA) Ryan Kuhn
5. (04VT) DJ Shaw
6. (03MA) Derek Gluchacki
7. (2VT) Stephen Donahue
8. (58VT) Jimmy Hebert
9. (04NH) Shawn Swallow
10. (33MA) Jaret Curtis
11. (82NH) Jason Ryan
12. (88MA) Chase Curtis
13. (49NH) Matt Anderson
14. (11VT) Kevin Vaudrien
15. (69ME) David MacDonald
16. (97NH) Joey Polewarczyk
17. (31MA) Trent Goodrow
18. (36NH) Erick Sands

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The ACT Late Model Tour last raced at Hudson Speedway in 2001, the Tour’s only stop ever at the venerable bullring. Only two of the competitors that day, Derek Ming and the ageless Joey Laquerre, have made a Tour start in 2021. Other starters included ACT managing partner Cris Michaud and brothers Mark and Dwayne Lanphear, the father and uncle of current Tour racers Reilly and Peyton.

Renfrew’s win was the fourth-straight first-time win this year on the ACT Tour. Jimmy Hebert opened the season in victory lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Since then, Thunder Road regular Brooks Clark, Shaw and Carey have all notched their first Tour victories.

But wins for Shaw and Carey, and Clark as a home-track ringer, seemed in some way inevitable. Renfrew, still a young star on the rise, was not on the short list of anticipated victors heading into 2021. Sunday’s race was only his ninth start ever in Tour competition.

For all his youth, though, Renfrew is no neophyte. After cutting his racing teeth at Hudson Speedway and Star Speedway, Renfrew made the move to touring racing in 2018 with the GSPSS. In only four starts, he found his way to victory lane, driving back from an off-course excursion to win at Star.

Renfrew ran the full GSPSS schedule in 2019, but diversified his schedule in 2020, running select GSPSS and ACT Tour events. Renfrew also committed to a full-time Street Stock run at Lee USA Speedway, winning almost every feature at the track.

This year, Renfrew is racing weekly at White Mountain Motorsports Park, while running most of the ACT Tour events as well. Renfrew has two feature wins at WMMP so far; his second came less than 24 hours before his trip to Hudson.

Renfrew’s full touring plans may be up in the air. But as the ACT Tour schedule revisits some familiar tracks in the coming weeks, he will certainly be on the list of threats.

Unofficial Results, ACT Tour Hudson 150 at Hudson Speedway:
1. (00NH) Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
2. (5MA) Tom Carey III
3. (4ME) Ben Rowe
4. (72MA) Ryan Kuhn
5. (04VT) DJ Shaw
6. (03MA) Derek Gluchacki
7. (2VT) Stephen Donahue
8. (58VT) Jimmy Hebert
9. (04NH) Shawn Swallow
10. (33MA) Jaret Curtis
11. (82NH) Jason Ryan
12. (88MA) Chase Curtis
13. (49NH) Matt Anderson
14. (11VT) Kevin Vaudrien
15. (69ME) David MacDonald
16. (97NH) Joey Polewarczyk
17. (31MA) Trent Goodrow
18. (36NH) Erick Sands

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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