(From series press release)
WATERBURY – The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) kicks off its 25th season of Late Model competition on Sunday, April 10 with the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150 at Lee USA Speedway. A talented field is getting ready for the 13-race 2016 season, setting up a wide-open championship battle. Reigning ACT Late Model Tour Champion Wayne Helliwell, Jr. is set to defend his title, but a mix of new challengers and rising stars will fight him at every stop for the $10,000 top prize.
Dover, NH’s Helliwell and his Bernhardt Motorsports team put together one of the best seasons in ACT Late Model Tour history in 2015 en route to their third ACT Championship in four seasons. Helliwell captured four wins, including the NH Governor’s Cup at his home track of Lee, and finished in the top-10 in every event. Helliwell became the third driver to win at least three ACT Late Model championships, joining Brian Hoar (8) and Jean-Paul Cyr (7). A fourth championship would further solidify his place among the all-time great ACT drivers.
A top group competitors looks to take the crown away. Rowley, MA’s Eddie MacDonald recently filed a full-season entry and will chase the ACT championship for the first time. MacDonald already has a number of ACT wins in part-time competition, including four triumphs in the Bond Auto ACT Invitational, and could be Helliwell’s fiercest challenger.
Waterford, CT’s Dillon Moltz and Colchester, VT’s Scott Payea are also on the list of incoming drivers who could contend for the title. Former Granite State Pro Stock Series Champion Moltz was impressive in a handful of ACT events last season, finishing second at Oxford Plains Speedway in July and leading the season finale at Thompson Speedway before an incident on a late restart. Payea returns to full-time ACT Late Model Tour competition for the first time since 2010 behind the wheel of the RPM Motorsports Dodge Charger, which has previously been piloted to multiple ACT championships by both Brian Hoar and Jean-Paul Cyr.
Among returning ACT drivers, Windham, ME’s Brad Babb sits as the biggest threat to Helliwell. Babb posted two wins and two runner-up finishes in his first season driving for Joey Laquerre Motorsports, and aims to be even better in 2016. Former ACT Rookie of the Year Brandon Atkins also looks to join the title conversation. Au Sable Forks, NY’s Atkins finished fifth in the final ACT standings in his sophomore season and will try to take another step forward.
A number of young and new drivers could also upend the status quo. Kyle Welch had the best season of his ACT career in 2015 and showed the potential to do more. Defending ACT Rookie of the Year Rich Dubeau will look to become a regular top-10 runner. Multi-time White Mountain Motorsports Park winner Ryan Olsen, defending Legend Cars ZMAX Touring Series Champion Devin O’Connell, and former Thompson Speedway regular Mark Jenison will all join the ACT Late Model Tour in 2016 and could turn heads.
The 2016 ACT Late Model Tour championship chase gets under way at Lee USA Speedway on Sunday, April 10 with the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150. The Northeast Mini Stock Tour and Northeast Classic Lites are also on the card. Post time is 1:15pm. Admission is $25 for adults, $23 for seniors, and $15 for juniors ages 13-16. An open practice session is scheduled for Saturday, April 9.
For more information contact the ACT offices at 802-244-6963, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.acttour.com.
PHOTO: Dover, NH’s Wayne Helliwell Jr. (27NH) looks for his 4th ACT Championship in 2016, but will face challenges from Rowley, MA’s Eddie MacDonald (17MA) and Newport, NH’s Kyle Welch (9NH). (Eric LaFleche/Victory Lane Radio photo)