Since the closing weeks of the 2020 American-Canadian Tour Late Model season, Tom Carey III has been poised to break out.
Saturday night at White Mountain Motorsports Park, the stars aligned for “TC3” at last.
Carey took control on lap 56 of the Caron Fabrication Spring Green, then led the rest of the way to claim his first career ACT Tour triumph.
Carey, from New Salem, Mass., started on the front row alongside veteran Quinny Welch and shadowed the multi-time WMMP track champion in the race’s opening laps. A slip by Welch working through lapped traffic opened the door for Carey. From there, Welch had a battle for second on his hands as Carey established himself at the point.
A caution with forty laps remaining brought Welch back to Carey’s door. On the restart, Carey opted for the high line, shaking Welch free and bringing along Pro All Stars Series contender Mike Hopkins. Hopkins and Welch kept the pressure on Carey, but the second-year ACT Tour challenger held firm at the point.
Reilly Lanphear’s last-lap spin brought out the evening’s third caution, but with most of the field already past the white flag, Carey raced his way back to the checkers.
Formerly a regular and race winner in Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s Late Model division, Carey made the leap to the ACT Tour full-time last year when Thompson was unable to run a regular program. Carey opened the season with an eighth-place finish in last year’s Spring Green, but failed to find the top ten in his next five starts. Carey skipped the Labor Day Classic at Thunder Road in September, but returned to finish fourth at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. A runner-up finish in the season finale at Oxford (Me.) Plains Speedway ended the year on a high note.
Road-trip results of 11th and fourth at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway carried Carey to a victory in an ACT-rules Late Model showdown at Thompson in April, followed by another runner-up finish to reigning champ Jimmy Hebert in the Tour season opener at NHMS. Once again, though, misfortune found Carey in the next two races, with finishes of 17th and 13th negating his top-five run.
Carey’s first career Tour win comes in his 21st start in the series. Carey’s father, a seven-time NASCAR Busch North Series winner, has a handful of Tour starts as well, but never picked up a victory in the Late Models.
Mike Hopkins held off Quinny Welch to close out his official Tour debut with a runner-up finish. The 2019 PASS National Champion and 2020 Motor Mountain Masters victor ran his first ACT-sanctioned races in April, driving a Port City Race Cars chassis to top-five finishes in the preseason Hickory road trip.
Welch, the eight-time WMMP track champion, picked up his best Tour finish since the 2019 Spring Green, though he remains winless in Tour competition.
Current WMMP points leader Jeff Marshall finished fourth, his best Tour effort since 2015. Lee USA Speedway winner DJ Shaw rounded out the top five.
Shawn Swallow was sixth, ahead of Bryan Mason, while Tour points leader Ben Rowe ended the evening in eighth. WMMP weekly feature winner Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. was ninth at the checkered flag, while 2020 top rookie Derek Gluchacki was the last car on the lead lap in tenth.
Joey Polewarczyk, the winner of the PASS 150-lapper at WMMP three weeks ago, made his second Tour start of the year in search of his first ACT win at the high-banked quarter-mile. The 2015 ACT Tour champ finished eleventh, the first car a lap down.
Reigning champion Jimmy Hebert was in the top ten when his car shut off during the lap-81 caution flag. Hebert was able to return after a mechanical issue was corrected, but his rebound from a practice crash at Lee fell short, hampering his hopes of a second championship.
Meanwhile, Carey became the 81st different winner on the ACT Late Model Tour since its 1992 inception. And in the process, he added his name to the rich legacy of the Spring Green, an event that predates ACT itself. In 46 total runnings, the event has been staged under multiple sanctions at six different tracks. WMMP has hosted the race since 2019.
With two more visits to WMMP planned for 2021, and another pair of races on quarter-mile ovals still ahead on the schedule, Tom Carey III has a lot to look forward to.
Unofficial Results, ACT Tour Caron Fabrication Spring Green at White Mountain Motorsports Park:
1. (5MA) Tom Carey III
2. (15ME) Mike Hopkins
3. (78NH) Quinney Welch
4. (32NH) Jeff Marshall
5. (04VT) DJ Shaw
6. (04NH) Shawn Swallow
7. (10NH) Bryan Mason
8. (4ME) Ben Rowe
9. (00NH) Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
10. (03MA) Derek Gluchacki
11. (97NH) Joey Polewarczyk
12. (2VT) Stephen Donahue
13. (61NH) Ryan Olsen
14. (22VT) Peyton Lanphear
15. (36NH) Erick Sands
16. (99NH) Ben Belanger
17. (9NH) Matthew Morrill
18. (49NH) Matt Anderson
19. (17ME) Kris Matchett
20. (21VT) Reilly Lanphear
21. (69ME) David MacDonald
22. (58VT) Jimmy Hebert
23. (25NH) Jesse Switser
24. (15VT) Joey Laquerre
25. (91CT) Jake Johnson
26. (7NH) Dylan Payea
27. (5ME) Dillon Moltz