–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
SEEKONK, Mass. – Scott Payea came out on top of a slugfest on Saturday night at Seekonk Speedway.
The Milton, Vt. driver took the lead from Brad Babb on lap 148 after Babb, Payea, and Eddie MacDonald were locked in a three-wide skirmish for the lead and was out in front when Babb and Eddie MacDonald tangled just moments later.
A lap 142 restart in the Propane Plus 150 put Payea to Babb’s outside with MacDonald in third. Babb had appeared to gain sole control of the top spot just after the restart, but Payea fought back on the outside and began to draw even with Babb.
As the trio completed lap 147, Babb continued to stay a nose ahead of Payea with MacDonald planted to Babb’s rear bumper. Babb would lose traction off of turn two, which gave Payea the advantage down the backstretch with MacDonald looking to Babb’s inside. As the three entered turn three, Babb and Payea appeared to make slight contact as MacDonald drove to the inside of Babb.
The three cars would all make contact as Babb and Payea got sideways. Payea was able to regain control and powered past, while Babb’s nose would make contact with MacDonald’s right side off of turn four.
As Payea pulled clear, Babb would get underneath MacDonald’s rear bumper into turn one and the two went into the turn two wall. The incident ended the night for both MacDonald and Babb.
Payea then held on through the green-white-checkered restart to claim his second win of the season and the seventh of his ACT Late Model Tour career.
“I didn’t see a whole lot,” Payea said of the incident. “I was just looking out my windshield and trying to go forward and digging on the outside. I knew on that restart that that was our only shot if Eddie (MacDonald) started to pressure (Babb) we’d have a shot to get around (Babb).
“I was making progress on (Babb), and then I don’t know what happened. (Babb) came up. He got pushed up, but he got me in the door and I had to work my butt off to save it. And then when we came around, they were wrecked.
“I was hoping those last five laps that we could put on a show with Babb and (MacDonald) just trying to go for the win. It ended a little early for them but we made out great.”
The win for Payea came on a night when the three other championship contenders – MacDonald, Nick Sweet, and Wayne Helliwell Jr. – didn’t have the greatest of nights.
“It’s huge,” Payea said. “We’ve been finishing second and third and still not gaining the points we need to. We needed to put another win in there and we did that tonight.”
Payea started in the sixth position and faded back to the ninth position just after the start, but began to slowly move his way to the front of the field. A restart just before lap 50 saw Payea sit in the fifth spot while the midway point showed the No. 37vt car in the fourth spot. Payea had moved into the second spot by lap 100 and rode there until he took the lead on lap 148.
“We had a really good car all night,” Payea said. “We dropped back a little bit, but then we would pick off a car here and a car there.
“I was just waiting at the end there to see what was going to happen and there were some fireworks. But we came out on top.”
Dillon Moltz did the same as Payea and slowly climbed through the field and was able to avoid the late race incident to finish second. The Waterford, Conn. driver started in the 13th spot and had moved to the fourth spot before the lap 148 caution, but was unable to challenge Payea on the ensuing restart.
Early race leader Joey Polewarczyk Jr. faded after the midway point of the race, but bounced back to finish third. The Hudson, N.H. driver was involved in a back-and-forth battle with Babb for the top spot for much of the first half of the race, which included a 20 lap side-by-side battle between the two. Polewarczyk, however, admitted in victory lane that his tires fell off after he went too hard in the beginning of the race.
Three-time and defending ACT Late Model Tour champion Helliwell of Dover, N.H. fought his way from a 19th place starting spot to finish fourth while Seekonk regular Nicholas Johnson of Rehoboth, Mass. moved back-and-forth inside the top-ten from a fourth place starting spot to complete the top-five finishers.
Polesitter and home track favorite Ray Parent finished sixth with multi-time Seekonk Late Model champion Ryan Vanasse seventh. Nick Sweet bounced back from a lap 142 incident with a lapped car to finish eighth after he made an early race pit stop for an adjustment. Bobby Therrien finished ninth with Mike Ziter completing the top-ten finishers.
MacDonald was credited with a 16th place finish with Babb 17th after their incident.
The Propane Plus 150 was slowed 13 times by caution flags and took just over 1 hour and 52 minutes to complete. There were two red flags, once for an incident involving Dylan Estrella on lap 47 and again on lap 148 for cleanup after the MacDonald and Babb skirmish. Estrella was uninjured in his incident.
Unofficially, Sweet will retain his championship point lead by 13 points over new second place driver Payea. MacDonald fell back to third, 38 points back of Sweet, while Helliwell retained the fourth spot, but cut his deficit from 50 points to 42 points. Therrien maintained the fifth spot and still 80 points back of Sweet, while Moltz cut his shortfall to Therrien from 17 points to just three points. Babb jumped to seventh while Atkins fell back to eighth. Dubeau held onto ninth while Mike Ziter jumped over Rowland Robinson Jr. to claim the tenth spot, unofficially.
The ACT Late Model Tour will head to White Mountain Motorsports Park on Saturday, July 23 for the Foley Oil Co. “Summer Showdown in the Mountains” event that will feature Twin 150 lap events for the ACT Late Models and the PASS Super Late Models. Post time is set for 5:00pm.
VMM will have more from the Propane Plus 150 at Seekonk Speedway, including comments from Babb and MacDonald, soon.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – Propane Plus 150
ACT Late Model Tour
Seekonk Speedway, Seekonk, Mass.
Saturday, July 16, 2016
1. (6) Scott Payea, Milton, Vt.
2. (13) Dillon Moltz, Waterford, Conn.
3. (7) Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Hudson, N.H.
4. (19) Wayne Helliwell Jr., Dover, N.H.
5. (4) Nicholas Johnson, Rehoboth, Mass.
6. (1) Ray Parent, Tiverton, R.I.
7. (9) Ryan Vanasse, Warwick, R.I.
8. (16) Nick Sweet, Barre, Vt.
9. (3) Bobby Therrien, Hinesburg, Vt.
10. (10) Mike Ziter, Barre, Vt.
11. (26) Rich Dubeau, Lebanon, N.H.
12. (12) Nicholas Uhrig, Warwick, R.I.
13. (17) Brian Tagg, Oxford, Mass.
14. (20) Mark Hudson, Norton, Mass.
15. (25) Emily Packard, East Montpelier, Vt.
16. (30) Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass.
17. (5) Brad Babb, Windham, Maine
18. (23) # Mark Jenison, Warwick, R.I.
19. (27) Ron Barboza Jr., Warren, R.I.
20. (21) Gerry DeGasparre Jr., Pawtucket, R.I.
21. (8) William Wall, Shrewsbury, Mass.
22. (2) # Devin O’Connell, Madison, Conn.
23. (18) Brandon Atkins, AuSable Forks, N.Y.
24. (15) # Ryan Olsen, North Haverhill, N.H.
25. (14) Rowland Robinson Jr., Steuben, Maine
26. (11) Derek Ramstrom, Worcester, Mass.
27. (22) Dylan Estrella, North Attleboro, Mass.
28. (29) Jimmy Linardy, Somerville, Mass.
29. (28) Walter Sutcliffe, East Haven, Conn.
30. (24) Anthony Ryan Jr., Ridgefield, Conn.
PHOTO: Scott Payea celebrates his ACT Late Model Tour win on Saturday night at Seekonk Speedway in the Propane Plus 150. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)