–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
It has been a while since we dusted this corner of the website off, and on one of the biggest racing weekends of the season, let’s just do that.
Hopefully the cleaning lady doesn’t mind how messy we’ve left it.
On our plate this weekend includes Saturday night’s event at Bear Ridge Speedway, and then the biggest one-day short track race on Sunday, the 44th Annual Oxford 250. We also took in the final Thursday night event of the season at Thunder Road.
Stick around for this weekend. It should be a good one.
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Before we move forward, let’s look back.
Scott Payea’s tenth place finish after an early race skirmish may not be impressive, but his late race rally to get there is something that could ultimately win him a championship.
Payea knows the value of one championship point. See the 2008 ACT Late Model Tour championship standings.
He was nearly put down a lap — twice — by his chief rival, Dillon Moltz, on Saturday during the Foley Oil & Propane 150 at White Mountain Motorsports Park. Luck was on his side with two well-timed caution flags for the Rick Paya-led team.
Payea started the final run stuck in 13th again, but over the final ten laps, charged to finish tenth.
Moltz was dominant on Saturday night and looked as if he may have gotten back some of that early season swagger he displayed. Payea isn’t to be written off by any means — he’s won at Thunder Road and finished third last season at Thompson — and oh yeah, he won four straight to get to the top of the standings.
But for Payea, Saturday night might be the night everyone points to as the night he won the 2017 ACT Late Model Tour championship should he do so with two races remaining.
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While our attention the last few weeks has been on the asphalt side, the championships in Bear Ridge’s top two divisions has been flipped upside down, jumbled around, and presented on a platter
In the Sabil & Sons DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds, three drivers are separated by just six points.
Terry Williams — who won a Sportsman Coupe championship and retired from racing only to return last season — sits at the top by just three points over Derek Graham.
Graham had a solid hold on the top spot until a disqualification for a weight in fraction two weeks ago loosened it.
Richie Simmons sits three back of Graham, but is a remarkable story after he flipped his car on Tuesday night at Albany-Saratoga Speedway and parked the same car in victory lane on Saturday night at Bear Ridge. The win for Simmons rocketed him back in the championship standings.
Just 33 points back of Williams sits Robert Tucker in fourth with Todd Buckwold in fifth, three points off of Tucker.
In the famed Wells River Chevrolet Sportsman Coupes, Jason Colbeth has seen his once comfortable lead shrink to just eight points.
Brian Chaffee, who at sat near the top of the standings all season long, is second. Todd Hayward rides in third, 14 points back of Chaffee. Gene Pierson, Thomas Placey, and Melvin Pierson ride fourth through sixth, respectively, and within 12 points of each other.
It’s been quite a long time since Bear Ridge has seen its top two divisions have tight championship battles and fans are likely in for a treat for the rest of the season.
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On the other side of Vermont, the Dirt Track at Devil’s Bowl Speedway is treating its fans to an ultra-tight championship battle in the Central Vermont Motorcycles Sportsman Modifieds.
Two of the track’s most recognizable names — Kenny Tremont Jr. and Tim LaDuc — are separated by just two points with just two races left.
Chris Murray holds a slim 13-point advantage in the Rosen & Berger Auto Recycler Super Stocks over Josh Bussino with Bill Duprey just 17 points off Murray.
On the asphalt side, Vince Quenneville Jr. holds an eight-point lead over Ron Proctor in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Sportsman Modifieds with just three races left.
For the Asphalt Super Stocks, Jim McKiernan and Dylan Rabtoy sit tied with three races remaining.
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After Thursday night, all three Thunder Road divisions have tight championship battles.
Bobby Therrien leads Trampas Demers by 31 points with just one race remaining — a special Friday night championship finale event on September 8.
Unofficially, if Therrien finishes sixth or better in that feature, no matter what happens throughout the rest of the racing card, he will earn his Thunder Road Late Model championship.
Despite his win, Jason Corliss saw the battle for third tighten up as he now sits just 17 points ahead of Cody Blake. Defending Late Model champion Scott Dragon sits third, 14 points back of Corliss.
The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers and Allen Lumber Street Stocks have even tighter battles with two races remaining on their championship calendar.
Jason Woodard extended his championship lead over Brendan Moodie to 22 points while Dwanye Lanphear and Trevor Lyman are locked into a tight battle for third as just two points separate the two drivers. Lanphear sits in third, 37 points back of Moodie.
In the Street Stocks, 19-year-old Cooper Bouchard saw his point lead get all-but-erased on Thursday night as he now sits four points ahead of a pair of veteran drivers, Jamie Davis and Alan Maynard.
Sixteen-year-old Kelsea Woodard sits fourth in the standings, 16 points back of Davis and Maynard, with Dean Switser Jr. just five points off of Woodard while Brandon Lanphear is one point off of Switser.
The Flying Tigers and Street Stocks will have a championship event on Sunday, September 3 during the ACT Late Model Tour Labor Day Classic 200.
(VMM file photo)