PHOTO: Brian Hoar (#37) and Brad Babb (#4) put on an entertaining show at Lee USA Speedway on Sunday; Hoar won, Babb was penalized. (Alan Ward photo)
LEE, N.H. — Brian Hoar winning American-Canadian Tour races is nothing new. Brad Babb trying to take down the seven-time champion, though, that’s new.
Williston driver Hoar came from 18th starting position in the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150 at Lee USA Speedway on Sunday afternoon to enter the top five even before 35 laps were completed. After a physical battle with former track champion Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Hoar settled into third place at lap 65, riding patiently as Helliwell dogged Scott Dragon for the lead.
Just as Helliwell made a move on Dragon at lap 102, though, the lapped car of Pat Floyd slowed, forcing Dragon and Helliwell to lock up their brakes, allowing Hoar to reel them in. A caution flag for Jimmy Cormier a dozen laps later bunched the field even tighter, bringing Hoar to Dragon and Helliwell’s rear bumpers. Three laps after the restart, Hoar took command of the race and sped off.
But then came eighteen year-old Babb, of Windham, Me., tugging on Superman’s cape. The ACT Late Model Tour sophomore had gone almost unnoticed the entire day as he struggled through three rounds of qualifying, needing a provisional to start 30th in the main event. But Babb’s car came to life at the drop of the green flag: He was tenth by lap 50, seventh by halfway, fifth at the final restart on lap 115, and in Hoar’s rear view mirror with ten laps to go.
As Hoar sliced through lapped traffic, Babb tried once every couple of laps to find enough room to make a pass. Although he didn’t beat Hoar, he backed up a statement he began to make last year.
“[My crew] told me on the radio, ‘He’s coming, and he’s coming hard,’” Hoar said of Babb. “They said I had ten car lengths on him, and I said, ‘Okay, I’ll step it up a little bit.’ Then they said I had eight car lengths on him, and I stepped it up even more. Then they said I had five car lengths on him, and at that point I was driving as hard as I could go and he was still catching me. He did a great job last year and he earned everyone’s respect, and today he played it smart and did a great job again.”
Babb crossed the finish line in second place ahead of a late-charging John Donahue and was understandably excited about what appeared to be his career-best ACT finish. Babb was penalized following technical inspection for a tire violation, however, leaving him officially scored in ninth place as the last car on the lead lap.
“As bad as we were all day, we were just hustling around [after the last-chance qualifying race] to get the car ready to go for the feature,” Babb said on Monday; his car was found with one of its tires not among the four the team registered to race with. “Somebody grabbed the wrong tire and put it on the car. That’s all it was. I should have checked or my father (crew chief Bobby Babb) should have checked, and that’s on our shoulders. It was the left-front tire so it wasn’t like it was a major advantage, and ACT knew that, but I understand that they had to do something. If ACT caught us but didn’t penalize us and somebody found out later down the road, that makes everybody look bad. Everyone knew who had the fastest car and what we can do, so I still feel good about that.”
With Babb’s penalty, Donahue, of Graniteville, inherited second place. Former Lee USA Speedway and White Mountain Motorsports Park champion Fulton Mountain of Barrington, N.H., recovered from two incidents during the race to finish third in his ACT Late Model Tour debut. Helliwell finished fourth with Dragon fifth. Randy Potter, Austin Theriault, Karl Allard, Babb, and Mark Lamberton completed the top finishers in order.
The ACT Late Model Tour’s next event is the Merchants Bank 150 on May 1 at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl in Barre.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150
American-Canadian Tour — Lee USA Speedway, Lee, N.H.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
(# – denotes rookie)
1. (18) Brian Hoar, Williston, Vt. — GossCars.com/RPM Racing Engines Dodge
2. (25) John Donahue, Graniteville, Vt. — National Guard Ford
3. (16) Fulton Mountain, Barrington, N.H. — Carriage Town Bar & Grill/Mark’s Auto Center Chevrolet
4. (8) Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Dover, N.H. — EKeys4Cars.com/Unique Ford Ford
5. (1) Scott Dragon, Milton, Vt. — Waste Management/Ciotti Racing Products Chevrolet
6. (2) Randy Potter, Groveton, N.H. — Speedway Sports Park Chevrolet
7. (23) Austin Theriault, Fort Kent, Me. — Varney Insurance/Daigle Oil Ford
8. (5) Karl Allard, St-Felicien, Que. — Larue Industrial Snow Blowers Ford
9. (30) Brad Babb, Windham, Me. — McGoldrick Bros. Blasting/Robert Babb Logging Chevrolet
10. (22) Mark Lamberton, Mooers Forks, N.Y. — Richard Green Trucking/Green’s ACE Hardware Chevrolet
11. (4) Brent Dragon, Milton, Vt. — Beverage Mart/Furniture World of Vermont Chevrolet
12. (24) Jamie Fisher, Shelburne, Vt. — S.D. Ireland Brothers/Interstate Batteries Chevrolet
13. (20) Rick Thompson, Jr., Jay, Vt. — Thompson Motorsports Chevrolet
14. (3) Shawn Martin, Turner, Me. — Bombardier Recreational Products/Oxford Networks Chevrolet
15. (28) Dennis Spencer, Jr., Oxford, Me. — R.C. & Sons Paving/Snow Buffalo Chevrolet
16. (15) Mike Bruno, Rutland, Vt. — Bruno’s Towing/Crickets Restaurant Chevrolet
17. (12) Travis Stearns, Auburn, Me. — Culvert Rehabilitation Services Chevrolet
18. (27) Ray Parent, Tiverton, R.I. — Amtrol Ford
19. (19) Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier, Vt. — Laquerre’s Marine Ford
20. (11) Jimmy Cormier, Princeville, Que. — REMEQ Inc./Probec/Jemexs/Locweld Chevrolet
21. (14) Pat Floyd, Chester, N.H. — All-Pro Tree Service/Sev Pro Ford
22. (13) Chip Grenier, Graniteville, Vt. — Last Call Racing Toyota
23. (10) Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton, Vt. — Harrison Redi-Mix Chevrolet
24. (6) Craig Bushey, Fairfax, Vt. — Vermont Life Safety/Robinson Fuels Chevrolet
25. (26) Donald Theetge, Boischatel, Que. — NAPA Auto Parts 200 Chevrolet
26. (17) Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, N.H. — Pole’s Automotive/NHPrecision.com Ford
27. (7) Ricky Rolfe, Albany Twp., Me. — Brackett Mechanical, Inc./RB Performance Chevrolet
28. (9) Aaron Fellows, Croydon, N.H. — New England Outdoor Furnace Chevrolet
29. (29) # Dave Farrington, Jr., Jay, Me. — Atlantic Contracting & Specialties/DMD Racing Ford
30. (21) Bobby Baillargeon, Kingston, N.H. — Kimball Auto Body Chevrolet