Plus-Minus System to Set Field for ACT International 500
Posted By Tj Ingerson On July 18, 2013
Categories: American-Canadian Tour
PHOTO: Brian Hoar (#37) started on the pole in his heat race at Airborne in May and went on to win, but was forced to start midpack due to ACT's plus/minus qualifying procedure. (Eric LaFleche/VLFPhotos.com photo)
--by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. -- The ACT International 500 will use the unique plus/minus handicapping procedure to determine the starting lineup for the first segment of the $25,000-to-win three-segment, 300-lap event on Sunday, July 21.
For the historic event that will take place at the half-mile Airborne Park Speedway, winning the first heat race of the event will not automatically put that driver on the pole position.
Unlike many “heads-up” style qualifying procedures used for many short track events, American-Canadian Tour president Tom Curley devised a system that rewards passing in heat races while negating the benefit that a positive draw would have on the feature lineup.
“The ACT system was predicated on the amazing idea that fans should watch a race event that has given its competitors a reason to race every lap for every position possible,” Curley wrote in a segment on the tour’s official website, ‘500 Fever.’ “Why reward the guy who, just by absolute luck of pulling a chip out of a bag.
The ACT plus/minus system scores drivers for how many positions they gained, or lost, in each heat race qualifier. The lineup for the first segment of the 300-lap event will be based on a driver’s plus/minus score.
If a driver starts fifth in his or her heat race and finishes third, that driver will be awarded a “+2” plus/minus score. If a driver starts third in his or her heat race and finishes fifth, that driver will be awarded a “-2” plus/minus score. If a driver gets a “bad” draw and starts 12th in his or her heat race and finishes fifth, that driver will be awarded with a “+7” plus/minus score.
The plus/minus system ultimately has two reward systems. If a driver is able to get a “good” draw and start up front in their heat race, they likely have an easier path to qualify for the main event. If a driver gets a “bad” draw and is forced to start near the back of their heat race, they are more likely get a better starting position in the first segment because they were forced to race their way into a qualifying position.
No matter where a driver qualifies in their heat race, each participant is given a plus/minus score. ACT procedures allow for a set number of cars from the consolation round qualifying, aka consis, to carry their plus/minus score into the “pool” of qualified cars.
On Saturday night at Star Speedway, ACT qualified four (4) cars from each heat race with a plus/minus score, and then qualified an additional four (4) cars from the consi that were able to “carry” their plus/minus score from their heat race into the “pool” of cars.
At Star, Luke Hinkley benefitted from being able to carry his plus/minus score. Hinkley started eighth in his heat race, and has moved up to fifth when the checkered flag flew, one spot short of qualifying. Hinkley had scored a “+3”, but was forced to race his way in through the consolation race. ACT procedures for Star stated the first four (4) cars in the consi would carry their heat race plus/minus handicap to the feature. Hinkley was among the first four cars, and would start on the outside pole in the Firecracker 150.
Hinkley, who likely would have started outside of the top-ten in the 150-lap after his bad draw for his heat race in a “heads-up” format, raced his way through the field in his heat race and was rewarded with an outside pole position starting spot.
The ACT International 500 will start on Saturday, July 20 with a full day of practice, along with qualifying events for Airborne’s five divisions and feature racing for the Sportsman Modifieds and Mini-Modifieds. The first segment of the $3,000-to-win DIRTcar Modifieds 100-lap event,, as well as the first segment of the two-segment Renegade event, will also be on the card.
The $140,000 ACT International 500 will be on Sunday, July 21 with the 300-lap, $25,000-to-win Late Model event, a 100-lap, $3,000-to-win Late Model “Reserve” feature, and the final segments of the Modifieds and Renegades, as well as Airborne’s Limited Late Models. Plus/minus heat race qualifying for the ACT Late Models will begin at 1:00pm.