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American Canadian Tour

Switser Stuns Gluchacki With Drive To ACT Northeast Classic Victory

After claiming his first ACT Tour win in last summer’s $10,000 Midsummer Classic 250, the Vermonter scored a big upset in another marquee ACT Tour event.

Jesse Switser left the field in the dust to win Sunday's ACT Tour Northeast Classic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. (STS/Jeff Brown)

UPDATE April 19, 2024: Derek Gluchacki was awarded the win on Thursday after engine infractions were discovered on Jesse Switser’s car following a post-race off-site inspection. The results below have been updated to reflect the disqualification.

How many upset wins can a driver score before they no longer qualify as upsets?

Jesse Switser would love to find out.

Switser celebrates his second career ACT Tour win on the series’ biggest stage. (STS/Jeff Brown)

The Lyndonville, Vt. racer outgunned Derek Gluchacki to score his second career American-Canadian Tour win in the series’ mid-afternoon feature of the fourth annual Northeast Classic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

On an afternoon where good fortune presented many drivers with opportunities to shine, all Switser needed was power under the hood.

“We were really good all weekend, and what a way to start this year,” Switser said. “My wife, my family, we put everything into this racing deal, and it feels really good to start the season out this way.”

Sunday’s race, the season opener for the ACT Late Model Tour, was an uncharacteristically rough-and-tumble affair on the “Magic Mile” for a series known for hard-nosed but respectful competition. And the carnage was hardly limited to the field’s less-experienced racers.

Dillon Moltz and Derek Gluchacki led the 39-car field to the green flag, with Gluchacki quickly assuming the point in search of his third straight Northeast Classic win. Moltz, a four-time ACT Tour winner and former Granite State Pro Stock Series champion, slipped back as Gabe Brown charged to second.

Derek Gluchacki and Brandon Barker battle early on in the Northeast Classic, with Gluchacki setting a fast pace out front. (STS/Jeff Brown)

But the polesitter’s day ended only six laps in when he and Stephen Donahue got together, setting off a wreck that claimed Tom Carey III. Carey, who finished a nail-biting second last year, expressed his frustration with Donahue as he limped to the infield. Adding to the early drama, two-time defending champion D.J. Shaw ducked down pit road as the field lined up for the restart, making a quick tire change before returning to the track.

Alexendre “Fireball” Tardif battles Barker, eventually coming home with a podium finish. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Gluchacki edged Brown for the lead on the restart, but a spin and crash for Joey Polewarczyk brought out the yellow immediately. The North Dartmouth, Mass. driver reasserted himself at the green, with Shaw carving his way through the field to make up for lost time.

Circumstances only got worse for Shaw, though. As a yellow waved on lap 18, Shaw returned to pit road, this time waiting as his crew raised the hood on his Arnie Hill-owned ride. The field gridded for the green flag as Shaw sat idle, ending a nearly-three-year streak of top-ten performances for the veteran driver.

Gluchacki was a bit slow to the start, too, with Brandon Barker, Alexendre Tardif and Jacob “Rowdy” Burns all challenging for the top spot. Tardif slipped into the lead, but Gluchacki powered back to the point.

Trouble for Kaiden Fisher brought out a timely caution on lap 24, with the field reporting to the pits for their halfway break a lap early. Shaw returned to the race six laps in arrears, but only made it around once under yellow before pulling back into the pits.

Three-wide racing through the field put on a show for the fans, but many contenders found themselves on the sidelines when bold moves failed to pan out. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Out front, Gluchacki continued to show the way under a long green-flag stretch, with Barker showing the strongest threat. Switser, meanwhile, had worked his way up to fifth, hanging with the top-five pack.

On lap 34, sophomore Tanner Woodard bobbled off turn two, spinning and collecting rookies Kasey Beattie and Jeremy Sorel in a hard crash that drew the red flag for cleanup. Burns and Bobby Therrien, both in the top ten as the field resumed under yellow, came to the pits before Gluchacki led the field back to green.

D.J. Shaw was en route to overcoming a tire issue when mechanical problems sidelined the two-time defending champion for the first time in years. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Gluchacki shot into the lead, but Switser cleared the traffic ahead of him and ran down Gluchacki, making a quick pass for the lead with ten laps remaining. A lap later, Ben Rowe, Dany Trepanier and Therrien met the end of their day in a turn-two crash.

Switser held off Gluchacki on the next restart, building an advantage as the laps ticked down. With four laps to go, early challenger Brown and Cam Huntress got together, bringing out another yellow and ending their respective afternoons. A lap after the restart, Connor McDougal was eliminated in a hard shot to the turn-one wall that also claimed heat winner Erick Sands and Davey Riendeau.

The final restart came with three laps to go, and any thought that Gluchacki had saved something for a last-ditch sprint was erased as Switser drove away with the lead, gapping Gluchacki in the last few circuits.

A surprise winner last August in the Midsummer Classic 250 at White Mountain Motorsports Park, Switser celebrated his second-ever ACT Tour win at the longest track on the schedule.

Switser gaps Gluchacki in the closing laps, showing off the power under the hood of his Ford Mustang. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Gluchacki settled for second, but with several of his chief title challengers in the infield long before the checkered flag, the Kulwicki Driver Development Program finalist may have received an early helping hand toward a much-desired championship ring.

Tardif was third at the finish, ahead of Barker and veteran Brian Hoar, who drove his late father’s car number to a fifth-place result.

The heavy attrition played a part in the back half of the top ten, with Jamie Swallow, Jr. scoring a sixth-place finish. Ray Christian III took Jason Glaude’s car to a seventh-place run. Shawn Swallow, Burns, and Modified ace Woody Pitkat rounded out the top ten.

Twenty of the thirty-nine starters finished the race, all on the lead lap. Defending champ Shaw was scored 34th in the final rundown, only his second finish outside the top ten since joining the ACT Tour full-time in 2020.

Switser, meanwhile, has been on fire in a limited schedule of touring races. After failing to qualify at Thunder Road last spring, Switser has four top five finishes, including a pair of wins, in his last five ACT Tour races. In the other, last September’s Fall Foliage 200, Switser led 68 laps before a tire issue relegated him to 15th.

The heavy attrition certainly helped some different names climb the leaderboard, but Switser simply overpowered the opposition out front.

Fortunately, all of the drivers involved in wrecks Sunday walked away. But the scale of the carnage was notable in a tour where disciplined racecraft and cooler heads generally prevail. That it happened on the biggest stage the Tour visits, a race track where a wreck has that much more likelihood of ending a season early, only magnified the outcome.

With two weeks before the next Tour race, and three before ACT’s home venue opens its season, teams will have some time to regroup and rebuild, if in fact they can.

Unofficial Results
American-Canadian Tour Northeast Classic 50
New Hampshire Motor Speedway

1. (03MA) Derek Gluchacki
2. (21QC) Alexendre Tardif
3. (0NH) Brandon Barker
4. (46X) Brian Hoar
5. (4NH) Jamie Swallow, Jr.
6. (31CT) Ray Christian III
7. (04NH) Shawn Swallow
8. (30RI) Jacob “Rowdy” Burns
9. (07MA) Woody Pitkat
10. (22RI) Mark Jenison
11. (21MA) Pete Yetman
12. (77NH) Bryan Wall, Jr.
13. (90QC) Zackary Fauteux
14. (33QC) Remi Perreault
15. (91CT) Jake Johnson
16. (49NH) Matt Anderson
17. (29ME) Allen Fellows
18. (73MA) Cole Littlewood
19. (11QC) Claude Leclerc
20. (36NH) Erick Sands
21. (7NC) Davey Riendeau
22. (8NH) Connor McDougal
23. (47NH) Gabe Brown
24. (27NH) Cam Huntress
25. (28ME) Ben Rowe
26. (19QC) Dany Trepanier
27. (5VT) Bobby Therrien
28. (68NH) Tanner Woodard
29. (45NH) Kasey Beattie
30. (7MA) Jeremy Sorel
31. (29NH) Aaron Fellows
32. (18VT) Kaiden Fisher
33. (31VT) Stephen Donahue
34. (04VT) D.J. Shaw
35. (5CT) Dillon Moltz
36. (5MA) Tom Carey III
37. (97NH) Joey Polewarczyk
38. (41QC) Jonathan Bouvrette
DNS (23ME) Dave Farrington, Jr.
DQ (25NH) Jesse Switser

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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