Connect with us

American Canadian Tour

Laperle Dodges Last-Turn Calamity To Win Fifth ACT Fall Foliage 200

The Quebecer drove out of a last-lap slide to hold off DJ Shaw by a fraction of a second for his fifth Fall Foliage win and his first at White Mountain Motorsports Park.

Patrick Laperle escaped last-lap contact from second-place DJ Shaw to win his first ACT Tour race since 2018 and the 20th of his career. Bryan Wall, Jr. (right) joined the two on the podium. (Photo courtesy ACT Media/John Raper)

With only a few hundred feet to go in Saturday night’s Fall Foliage 200, whether Patrick Laperle could survive all the way to the checkered flag seemed well in doubt.

But “Le Grand Laperle” never flinched.

The 2008 American-Canadian Tour champion dodged a last-turn crash and a charge from DJ Shaw to win his fifth Fall Foliage feature and his first ACT Tour race since 2018.

After two years away from the Tour, the Canadians are making up for lost time.

Saturday’s 44th running of the Fall Foliage 200 was only the second at White Mountain Motorsports Park, with the North Woodstock, N.H. track taking on the historic event last year after a brief hiatus. Laperle’s four prior wins in the event — in 1999, 2005, 2009 and 2010 — were all at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y., a track since converted to a dirt surface. The St. Denis, Que. veteran had a prior ACT Tour victory at WMMP, all the way back in 2002.

As Laperle found his way toward the front of the field, multi-time WMMP champion and current track points leader Quinny Welch showed the way early, taking the lead from polesitter Bryan Wall, Jr. and distancing himself from rookie challenger Cody LeBlanc.

Laperle and visitor Joey Doiron, fresh off his Granite State Pro Stock Series championship honors the night before, slipped past LeBlanc after a lap-27 restart, closing up on Welch with the help of a lap-71 caution flag. Laperle challenged Welch on restarts, but the home-track ace would gap the field on green-flag runs.

The complexion of the race changed completely with 39 laps to go, when sophomore Erick Sands was turned into the turn-three tire barrier. Sands’ spin set off a multi-car collision collecting Doiron and Autodrome Montmagny winner Raphael Lessard, among others. Under caution, Welch’s car sputtered and stalled, handing the lead to Laperle with Shaw in second as the former leader dipped into the pits for fuel.

On the restart, Laperle shook Shaw and took control of the race, with Shaw peeking to the inside looking for a way past the leader. Tom Carey III, his car rebuilt from a crash at Oxford Plains Speedway in August, settled into third, waiting for the leaders to slip up.

With the white flag in the air, Laperle closed up on lapped traffic. Using Dylan Bilodeau’s car as a pick, Shaw dove to the inside in turn three, getting alongside Laperle but making contact with the leader. Laperle spun sideways through turn four, slowing Shaw’s momentum. Carey dropped to the apron and slipped past the leaders to steal the win.

But Laperle corrected his sliding car, tagging Carey and spinning the Massachusetts driver across his nose and out of the way. Shaw charged to Laperle’s inside, but Laperle had enough speed to beat Shaw to the line by 0.023 seconds.

Shaw, fresh off a close second-place run in the afternoon’s Pro All Stars Series Fall Foliage 150, came up just short of his third ACT Tour win of 2022. Polesitter Wall, in only his third ACT Tour feature, followed Shaw on the bottom to steal third.

Tanner Woodard improved on his fifth-place finish at Oxford in August, finishing fourth in only his third Tour start. Carey was credited with fifth as he slid across the finish line.

Labor Day Classic runner-up Shawn Swallow was sixth despite being involved in an early caution. Doiron, racing a Renfrew Motorsports car in his first ACT Tour start since 2009, battled back to seventh after the lap-161 crash. Tour rookie Alexendre Tardif was eighth, ahead of fellow rookie LeBlanc, who scored his first top ten of the season. Welch, the dominant early leader, raced his way back to tenth after pitting for fuel.

Derek Gluchacki, winner of the Wall’s Ford Platinum Championship mini-series at WMMP, was expected to factor into the battle at the end, but mechanical woes caught up with the Dartmouth, Mass. challenger. Gluchacki finished 28th, his first Tour finish worse than 11th all year.

Shaw’s second-place result, though, brought him another step closer to his first ACT Tour title. Shaw holds a commanding lead over second-place Tardif and third-place Gluchacki, and while he has yet to mathematically clinch the championship, merely starting the final races should lock the Center Conway, N.H. veteran in.

Early on, Laperle seemed likely to challenge for the championship as well. After two years of cross-border travel limitations, Quebec racers were finally able to rejoin the ACT Tour title chase in 2022. Laperle was joined by Tardif, Jonathan Bouvrette and Rémi Perreault in the first few races of the season.

Of the four, only Tardif has entered every race, with issues keeping the other three from pursuing a full-time chase. Bouvrette, winner of the Tour’s 2019 season finale at Thompson Speedway in Connecticut, won the first Tour feature in Quebec since the pandemic in June’s visit to Autodrome Chaudière. NASCAR Truck Series winner Raphael Lessard picked up a victory of his own at Montmagny in August.

Laperle became the third Canadian driver to win with the Tour this year, and the first since Bouvrette to win in the United States. Laperle’s 20th ACT Tour win was his first since a 2018 victory at Riverside Speedway, then called Speedway 51, in New Hampshire.

The big win for “Le Grand Laperle” caps off a season that has been hit or miss in more ways than one. A podium at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was followed with handling woes at Thunder Road. A slight rebound at WMMP in June was followed by a short night at Chaudière. In the Midsummer Classic 250 at WMMP in August, Laperle was drilled from behind during a mid-race dogfight, then drove back to a top-five finish with a damaged car. Another top-five run at Montmagny showed the tenacious racer had plenty of drive left.

Saturday’s win, though, was one for the ages.

Unofficial Results, ACT Tour Fall Foliage 200 at White Mountain Motorsports Park:
1. (91QC) Patrick Laperle
2. (04VT) DJ Shaw
3. (77NH) Bryan Wall, Jr.
4. (68VT) Tanner Woodard
5. (5MA) Tom Carey III
6. (04NH) Shawn Swallow
7. (00NH) Joey Doiron
8. (21QC) Alexendre Tardif
9. (7NH) Cody LeBlanc
10. (78NH) Quinny Welch
11. (0VT) Scott Dragon
12. (27NH) Cam Huntress
13. (36NH) Erick Sands
14. (0NH) Dylan Bilodeau
15. (61NH) Ryan Olsen
16. (92VT) Jaden Perry
17. (02NH) Randy Potter
18. (21VT) Reilly Lanphear
19. (12NH) Jeffrey Labrecque, Jr.
20. (67MA) Chase Curtis
21. (4NH) Jamie Swallow, Jr.
22. (48QC) Raphael Lessard
23. (55VT) Keegan Lamson
24. (36QC) Alex Labbé
25. (32NH) Jeff Marshall
26. (27KY) Isaac Bevin
27. (49NH) Matt Anderson
28. (03MA) Derek Gluchacki
29. (22VT) Peyton Lanphear
30. (1ME) Mike Bailey
31. (58VT) Jimmy Hebert
32. (45NH) Kasey Beattie

If you like what you read here, become a Short Track Scene Patreon and support short track journalism!

Read more Short Track Scene:

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.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




More in American Canadian Tour