It’s all coming together for Derek Gluchacki.
The Massachusetts racer opened his third American-Canadian Tour season in style, taking the lead late en route to his second career ACT Late Model Tour win in Sunday’s Northeast Classic feature at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
And with his success going back to last year, momentum is at last on Gluchacki’s side.
Dillon Moltz started the feature from the point and took charge early, but all eyes were on Tom Carey III as he threaded his way through traffic. A lap-13 caution lined the two yellow cars up side-by-side, and after battling Moltz for a few laps, Carey pulled ahead and into the lead.
Gluchacki was pressuring Moltz for second when the race reached the planned halftime break. Carey took control once again on the restart, while Gluchacki and defending race winner Jimmy Hebert continued to challenge Moltz for the runner-up spot. Moltz dropped back to fourth as Gluchacki and Hebert set off in search of Carey.
In the closing laps, though, trouble struck several top-ten contenders, starting with veteran Woody Pitkat. The 2017 ACT Invitational winner was battling Raphael Lessard with nine laps left when a rear wheel broke, sending Pitkat for a spin and into the turn-four wall. Lessard was unable to avoid Pitkat, and limped to the pits with damage of his own.
Two laps later, Derek Ming spun out of the top ten, setting up another restart and an opportunity for the pack to challenge Carey. As the field came off turn two, Hebert suffered a suspension failure, spinning his third-place Ford and collecting a half-dozen cars in a massive wreck that drew a red flag for cleanup.
Carey led the field to green once more, but Gluchacki dug deep on the restart, seizing the lead and hanging on for the win.
Carey, a Thompson Speedway graduate, was second for the second year in a row. Patrick Laperle, in his first ACT Tour start since 2019, rebounded from an early pit stop to finish third, best in class among the visiting Canadians.
Championship runner-up DJ Shaw was fourth for car owner Arnie Hill, with early leader Moltz finishing fifth.
Outside polesitter Dany Trépanier held on for a sixth-place performance. Defending champion Ben Rowe was midpack for most of the afternoon, but took advantage of the late-race attrition to come home seventh. Jamie Swallow, Jr. finished eighth, with Jean-Philippe Bergeron and Shawn Swallow rounding out the top ten.
Fourteen cars finished the race, with defending winner Hebert on the sidelines in 15th. Mechanical woes thinned the field after the halftime break, with 2019 ACT Tour champ Rich Dubeau, Cody LeBlanc, and Hudson feature winner Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. among those retiring before the checkers.
There was no such heartbreak, though, for Gluchacki.
A regular at Thompson Speedway and Seekonk Speedway, Gluchacki turned in top-ten finishes in two Tour starts at Thompson in 2019. When neither track was able to host weekly racing in 2020, Gluchacki joined the Tour full-time, earning five top-ten finishes in nine starts and finishing sixth in the points with a humble program.
Added support for 2021 came with higher expectations, and after a slow start to the season, Gluchacki bounced back to pick up eight top tens in twelve starts. In the penultimate race of the season, Gluchacki broke into victory lane at Thompson with a dominant performance. In the season finale at Seekonk, he was leading late in the race when he became collateral damage in a race for the championship. Gluchacki limped home eleventh, a finish that did not reflect his performance.
Gluchacki got an early start to his season last week, winning the ACT-type Late Model feature on the rescheduled second day of Icebreaker festivities at Thompson. With Sunday’s win at NHMS, the Dartmouth, Mass. star has wins in two of his last three ACT Tour starts, plus a boatload of momentum.
While a number of the Tour’s former stars moving on and cutting back in recent years, the last two years have also seen an influx of new names and faces. The only thing remaining is for the new faces to start winning with frequency.
Derek Gluchacki, so far, is doing his part.
Unofficial Results, ACT Northeast Classic 50 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
1. (03MA) Derek Gluchacki
2. (5MA) Tom Carey III
3. (91QC) Patrick Laperle
4. (04VT) DJ Shaw
5. (5ME) Dillon Moltz
6. (19QC) Dany Trépanier
7. (4ME) Ben Rowe
8. (4NH) Jamie Swallow, Jr.
9. (18QC) Jean-Philippe Bergeron
10. (04NH) Shawn Swallow
11. (8NH) Connor McDougal
12. (30RI) Jacob “Rowdy” Burns
13. (27NC) Robby Gordon Douglas
14. (3NH) Brenna Humphrey
15. (58VT) Jimmy Hebert
16. (36NH) Erick Sands
17. (33QC) Remi Perreault
18. (04ME) Jamie Swallow, Sr.
19. (50RI) Mike Benevides
20. (45VT) Derek Ming
21. (48QC) Raphael Lessard
22. (07MA) Woody Pitkat
23. (12NH) Jeffrey Labrecque, Jr.
24. (30NH) Rich Dubeau
25. (00NH) Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
26. (15ME) Mike Hopkins
27. (49NH) Matt Anderson
28. (03QC) Sébastien Couture
29. (7NH) Cody LeBlanc
30. (91CT) Jake Johnson
31. (21QC) Alexendre Tardif
DNS (27NH) Cam Huntress