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The Juice

THE JUICE: Notes From New Hampshire

- Justin St. Louis on 19 Aug 2010

-by Justin St. Louis
VMM Editor

Go in the garage area at New Hampshire Motor Speedway during any NASCAR weekend and you’ll see a madhouse of activity. There’s a hum in the atmosphere of air wrenches, power tools, the occasional revving of an engine. Nobody looks up from what they’re doing. Nobody talks. Just work.

There was a hum this week, too, but it was nothing like what those garages are used to. People were smiling, talking to each other and comparing notes during the test session for next month’s ACT Invitational. Yes, everyone was focused and working hard, but at the same time they were also relaxed and having fun.

A three-bay garage area occupied on Tuesday by the Thunder Road teams of Brooks Clark, Nick Sweet, and Matt White was the one of the bright spots. Clark and White were taking their first laps around the “Magic Mile” while Sweet was returning after finishing second in the first-ever American-Canadian Tour race there last September.

You wouldn’t know that Clark was battling carburetor issues, and Sweet’s clutch was slipping on the straightaways; Clark wore a big grin across his face, and Sweet and his pit crew, even as they worked on and under their car, had time to talk to anyone that asked a question.

“What’s the problem?” someone asks.

“Air conditioner’s broke,” replies Norm Fortier, a Sweet crew member.

Between practice sessions, White ventured about 15 yards across pit road to his trailer, where his wife and children were watching everything from a distance. It was a breath of fresh air for that garage area, which on NASCAR weekends can be all-too-businesslike.

“It was a Plymouth Sundance,” White laughs, remembering his first race car, which he drove to an Enduro win in 2004. “I just was there to have fun. I’ll tell you what, just to move up to the Tigers, that was a big step then. Now to be in a Late Model, and especially to be here, is even better. It just keeps progressing from there.”

Not surprisingly, nobody could draw a single parallel between New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Thunder Road.

“It’s hard to explain what it’s like out there, but it’s so much different obviously than Thunder Road. It’s a blast,” said Clark while making himself a sandwich during the lunch break. “The straightaways are so long, you kind of get bored going down the straightaways, but then you get to the corner and it’s like, ‘Is it gonna stick when I get there?’ and you’re not bored anymore. When you drive through the corner it’s just amazing.”

“There’s no comparison at all,” said White. “I think you could adapt to this track a lot easier than you could adapt to Thunder Road, but to be fast here it’s going to take a little bit [of time]. I’m getting there. Every time I go out I pick up a couple tenths. I’m definitely not going to get up to Brian Hoar’s speed, but if we can pick up three tenths, four tenths, I’d be happy.”

Whether or not Clark and White are selected by ACT president Tom Curley to compete in the ACT Invitational -- Sweet won a qualifying event in May and is guaranteed to be in the race -- the thrill of experiencing New Hampshire Motor Speedway in their own cars seemed to be good enough.

“I never thought I’d be down here on this track,” says Clark. “I hope I get in the race. If I don’t, though, I’m glad I was here to do it once at least. It’s a blast. To be at Loudon is pretty amazing.”

“We’ve actually gotten to be fairly competitive in a Late Model, and that’s been the fun part,” said White. “It’s all about being comfortable and not beating and banging out there. Maybe Tom will see me. Maybe I can win a qualifying race from here on out, who knows?”



--Despite their brick-shaped appearance, odd center-seat chassis configuration, and treaded tires, the dirt-style Modifieds tested by Mike Perrotte and Patrick Dupree on Tuesday were roughly a half-second faster than the ACT Late Models.

--John Donahue drove his Chevrolet-powered car on Tuesday, not his Ford as was reported elsewhere. Donahue’s team had planned on bringing both cars in order to compare the power bands down the long straightaways at New Hampshire, but a wreck at Circuit Riverside Speedway on Saturday night left the Ford car too heavily damaged to bring to the track. Donahue won his 12-lap mock race.

--Glen Luce said he noticed the major differences between the Chevrolets and Fords at NHMS. While the Chevrolets are snappier coming out of the corners and have more low-end torque, the high-end straightaway power of the Fords make up for any disadvantages in corner speed. Donahue said he thought that the Ford would have a “big advantage” at NHMS and would prefer to drive that car in the ACT Invitational, but without any Ford testing time, will compete in the Chevy. Luce spent of most of his 12-lap simulated race battling with Jamie Fisher’s Chevy, and eventually got by for the “win” on the strength of straightaway speed.

--Brian Hoar and Joey Laquerre were the fastest drivers on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Laquerre’s time of 32.029 seconds (and Brad Leighton’s lap of 32.050) beat Hoar’s 32.130 seconds. In addition to Donahue and Luce’s Tuesday wins in the simulated races, Laquerre and Leighton were the Wednesday winners.

--ACT’s mandatory 8-inch Goodyear tires have had some issues concerning wear and blistering in 2010, and tires at last year’s ACT Invitational cost several drivers a chance at better finishes. Even winner Eddie MacDonald had major blistering problems on his tires.

Scott Junod, Short Track Sales Manager for Goodyear, says that a specialized tire built specifically for ACT cars at New Hampshire is performing well, and that the issues with ACT’s general-purpose tire have also been taken care of.

“We have run into a couple of things with light tread folding and things like that, but we worked through that and everything is back on course. The tires look pretty good right now,” said Junod. “We went with a slightly different compound than we had here last year. [It’s] a little bit harder, it should run a little bit cooler and give a little bit more margin for error. So far everything looks fine. We didn’t think there would be much penalty as far as lap times or anything, and everybody’s been pretty consistent with where they were last year. I think they’re off just a tick or two, but we would expect that with a little bit harder tire.”

Many of last year’s NHMS tire problems, according to both ACT and Goodyear officials, were due in part to the aggressive camber teams were building into their setups.

“We took a little bit of gauge out of the shoulder here and there to help [the tires] run a little bit cooler so we wouldn’t run into any shoulder blistering like we ran into last year,” Junod explained. “That extra year makes a big difference. The guys running here last year know [now] that you can’t come in with a regular short track setup. You have to come in here and stand that right-front tire up a little bit so you’re not running on the corner. We [also] limited the stagger a little bit so guys wouldn’t be too hard on the right-rears. Everything is setup according to plan. We’re happy with it.”



Time to take a look at the Vermont racing scene from the past week...

Airborne Speedway (Plattsburgh, N.Y.): On Saturday, Brandon drivers Vince Quenneville, Jr., and Don Scarborough were fifth and ninth in the Modified feature, respectively. Speedy Bressette of Castleton was eighth in the Mini-Modifieds.

Albany-Saratoga Speedway (Malta, N.Y.): Castleton’s Mike Bruno was fifth in Friday’s Modified feature.

Bear Ridge Speedway (Bradford): Adam Pierson of Fairlee took his sixth Sportsman Modified win on Saturday over rookie Jim Morgan of Woodstock and Jack Cook of Moultonboro, N.H. Topsham’s Josh Harrington won the Sportsman Coupe race over Chris Carbee of South Ryegate and Gene Pierson, Jr., of East Corinth. Newbury’s Jeremy Hodge won the Limited Late Model over Troy Comeau of Rumney, N.H., and Bradford’s Tyler Stygles. Kevin Harran of St. Johnsbury won his first Fast Four race of the year over White River Junction rookie Josh Connors and crosstown neighbor Josh Sunn. Bradford’s Tom Placey won the Hornet feature over rookie Jesse Smith of Topsham and Bobby Bell of St. Johnsbury.

Big Daddy's Speedway (Rumney, N.H.): Kevin Chaffee of Orange was fifth in Saturday’s Sportsman Modified race.

Canaan Dirt Speedway (Canaan, N.H.): Dan Eastman of Thetford Center was third in the Sportsman Modified race on Friday with Josh Sunn of White River Junction seventh and Brookfield’s Chris Chambers ninth. Sunn was the Mini Stock winner with Tim Hodge of Vershire fifth. Mike Stender of Strafford was fourth in the Bandit feature.

Canaan Fair Speedway (Canaan, N.H.): Mendon’s Chris Wilk was Saturday’s Pro Stock runner-up, and Kris Lyman of West Hartford was fifth in the Super Street runner-up. Tom Coates of White River Junction was fifth in the Pure Stock feature. Bradford’s Mike Parker won the Bandit feature with Ascutney’s Tyler Lescord third and Matt Sonnhalter of East Thetford fourth.

Devil's Bowl Speedway (West Haven): Sunday’s feature races were rained out.

Empire Super Sprints: Anthony Cain of Fairfax was 11th in Saturday’s event at Autodrome Drummond. Lance Yonge of Penn Yan, N.Y., was the winner.

Fonda Speedway (Fonda, N.Y.): Dave Camara of Fair Haven was fourth and seventh in Saturday’s double Modified features, and Bomoseen’s John Scarborough was second and fifth in the 602 Limited Sportsman features.

Lebanon Valley Speedway (West Lebanon, N.Y.): Bennington’s Neil Stratton was 15th in Saturday’s Big Block Modified race, and Frank Hoard, III, of Manchester was 19th in the 358 Modifieds. Chuck Towlsee of Manchester was the Pro Stocks feature winner.

Modified Racing Series: Ascutney’s Dwight Jarvis was eighth on Saturday at Waterford Speedbowl. Steve Masse of Bellingham, Mass., was the winner.

Mohawk Int’l Raceway (Akwesasne, N.Y.): Todd Stone of Middlebury was fifth in Friday’s Modified fetaure.

Monadnock Speedway (Winchester, N.H.): Windham’s Nate Kehoe was ninth in the Sportsman Modifieds on Saturday, and Mike Metcalf of Westminster was seventh in the Mini Stocks.

NASCAR Nationwide Series: Kevin Lepage of Shelburne finished 42nd in Saturday’s event at Michigan Int’l Speedway.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Patrick Carpentier finished 29th in Sunday’s event at Michigan Int’l Speedway for Vermont-based Latitude 43 Motorsports.

Riverside Speedway (Groveton, N.H.): On Saturday, David Allen of North Troy was fourth in the Super Stocks, while St. Johnsbury’s Doug Duprey was the Street Stock runner-up with Brett Rowell of Concord third. Granby’s Allison Barney was the Angel runner-up. Brent Ming of Island Pond won the Daredevil veteran youth race with Graniteville’s Stephen Donahue fourth, and Anthony LaCoss of Lyndonville was the rookie runner-up. On Sunday, St. Johnsbury’s Stacy Cahoon was third in the Clash of the Titans 150 Late Model event with West Burke’s Jesse Switser seventh, Eric Williams of Hyde Park ninth, and Jay’s Rick Thompson, Jr., tenth. Dan Sidney of St. Johnsbury was ninth in the PASS Sportsman race, Lorin Vear of Waterford was the Cyclone Enduro runner-up, and Greg Wolcott of Georgia won the 8-cylinder Enduro.

Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl (Barre): John Donahue of Graniteville won Thursday’s Late Model feature over Phil Scott of Montpelier and Nick Sweet of Barre. Lance Allen of Barre won the Tiger Sportsman feature over Bradford’s Derrick O’Donnell and David Finck of Barre. Berlin’s Scott Weston won the Street Stock feature over Danny Doyle of Hancock and rookie Sid Sweet, Jr., of Williamstown. Barre’s Kevin Dodge was the top Junkyard Warrior over Tommy Elwood of Morrisville and Cabot’s Ken Christman.

Twin State Speedway (Claremont, N.H.): Dallas Trombley of Rutland finished third in Friday’s Late Model feature, and Robert Hagar of Windsor won the Modified event. Mendon’s Chris Wilk was the Super Street winner with Dave Davis of White River fourth and Ascutney’s Colby Hodgdon fifth. Kaitlin Stone of Jacksonville was third in the Strictly Stock race with Kyle Davis of Pittsford fourth. Jeremiah Losee of North Springfield was the Wildcat winner over Rob Leitch of Cavendish. Joey Laquerre of East Montpelier was the youth Sportsman winner over Brandon Gray of East Thetford.

White Mountain Motorsports Park (North Woodstock, N.H.): Tyler Cahoon of St. Johnsbury was third in Saturday’s Late Model feature with father Stacy Cahoon seventh. Barre’s Chris Pelkey was the Super Sportsman runner-up with Plainfield’s Tim Potter fourth and East Haven’s Michael Moore fifth. Stevie Parker of Lyndonville was the Strictly Stock runner-up.



Thursday, Aug. 19
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre -- 6:30pm (Regular Event)

Friday, Aug. 20
Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. -- 6:45pm (Regular Event)
Canaan Dirt Speedway, Canaan, N.H. -- 7:00pm (Sprint Cars of New England)
Twin State Speedway, Claremont, N.H. -- 7:30pm (Regular Event)

Saturday, Aug. 21
Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
Bear Ridge Speedway, Bradford -- 6:00pm (Sprint Cars of New England)
Big Daddy's Speedbowl, Rumney, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Granite State Mini Sprints)
Canaan Fair Speedway, Canaan, N.H. -- 6:00pm (ACT Tiger Tour)
Monadnock Speedway, Winchester, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
Riverside Speedway, Groveton, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Street Stock Triple Crown Finale)
White Mountain Motorsports Park, North Woodstock, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)

Sunday, Aug. 22
Devil's Bowl Speedway, West Haven -- 6:00pm (Double Features)


ACT Late Model Tour: Sat., Aug. 21 -- Waterford Speedbowl, Waterford, Conn. (5:00pm)
ACT Tiger Tour: Sat., Aug. 21 -- Canaan Fair Speedway, Canaan, N.H. (6:00pm)
Modified Racing Series: Sat., Aug. 21 -- Seekonk Speedway, Seekonk, Mass. (6:00pm)
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Fri., Aug. 20 -- Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tenn. (ESPN/7:00pm)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Sat., Aug. 21 -- Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tenn. (ABC/7:00pm)
Pro All Stars Series: Sat., Aug. 21 -- Spud Speedway, Caribou, Me. (6:00pm)
Sprint Cars of New England: Fri., Aug. 20 -- Canaan Dirt Speedway, Canaan, N.H. (7:00pm)
Sprint Cars of New England: Sat., Aug. 21 -- Bear Ridge Speedway, Bradford, Vt. (6:00pm)


"I don’t care what kind of car it is. If it’s got four tires and steering wheel, I’ll drive it." --Nick Sweet

"I want a championship next year, that’s what I want. I’m gonna get it next year. If I run the full season, I’m gonna get it." --Modified Racing Series driver Steve Masse

"I’ve never had a season where we’ve had this number of podium finishes. Never. And I dare say nobody else has, either." --ACT champion Brian Hoar

"It’s crazy to think that however many years ago I was sitting in the stands up here watching my dad trying to make the race and now we’re in victory lane." --Milk Bowl winner Joey Polewarczyk

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