CLAREMONT, N.H. — Open the file marked “Biggest Upsets In American-Canadian Tour History” and drop Mark Hayward’s name in.

Hayward, running his first full season with the ACT Late Model Tour, scored his first career victory on Friday night in front of his hometown crowd by winning the Bond Auto 100 at Twin State Speedway.

The Newport, N.H., driver started third on the 27-car grid and rode patiently behind polesitter and early leader Aaron Fellows before making his move for the lead after a restart on lap 51. Hayward nosed ahead to lead laps 53 and 54 by inches at the scoring line, and was the official leader as the caution flag flew with 54 laps complete. From that restart on, Hayward led every step of the way.

His most serious challenge came from Randy Potter and defending Twin State winner Brent Dragon, but as Dragon pressured Hayward with ten laps remaining, Dragon was spun by Ben Rowe. A final restart after a red flag for Craig Bushey and Chris Riendeau’s hard crash into frontstretch wall brought Potter and Rowe to within striking distance of Hayward, but he sped to the win.

“That was quite a run,” said Hayward. “It’s my home track and I was happy to be here, but I didn’t think I’d ever win. I just figured those guys have a lot of experience and, I don’t know, I don’t hold myself up to their caliber, I guess.”

Defending Pro All Stars Series national champion Rowe, of Turner, Me., claimed the runner-up position as Potter slid back in the outside lane. Multi-time Twin State Speedway champion Fellows, of Croydon, N.H., finished an ACT career-best third, with Groveton, N.H.’s Potter fourth. Jeff Zuidema of North Brookfield, Mass., took fifth. The top ten was completed by T.J. Watson, John Donahue, point leader Brian Hoar, Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., and rookie Austin Theriault.

Hayward earned his first career ACT top-ten finish at the season opener at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl in Barre, then posted a third-place finish at White Mountain Motorsports Park in June. His team operates on a shoestring budget with an all-volunteer crew. Hayward’s A-1 Siteworks construction company is the team’s main sponsor, with only minimal funding from the self-owned businesses of crewmen Forrest Smith, Steve Robbins, and Punky Belanger.

With the win, Hayward also earned a guaranteed starting berth at the ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September. While in victory lane, ACT director Tom Curley extended an invite to an August test at the 1.058-mile track to both Hayward and Fellows, much to the delight of the Twin State home crowd.

“We’re going better and better,” said Hayward. “We went back to some old [notes] we had and started working with that again, with what we’re used to, and it works for me. Every driver has to have what works for him, and I’ve got a great crew chief who know’s what he’s doing. We’re starting to get a handle on it.

“But I never thought this would happen.”

Feature winners in Twin State Speedway’s regular divisions were Mike Willis, Jr., of Grantham, N.H. (Modified), Mendon, Vt.’s Chris Wilk (Super Street), David Greenslit of Claremont, N.H., (Strictly Stock), and North Springfield, Vt.’s Jeremiah Losee (Wildcat).

Amercian-Canadian Tour — Twin State Speedway
Friday, July 30, 2010

# – denotes rookie

1. Mark Hayward, Newport, N.H.
2. Ben Rowe, Turner, Me.
3. Aaron Fellows, Croydon, N.H.
4. Randy Potter, Groveton, N.H.
5. Jeff Zuidema, North Brookfield, Mass.
6. T.J. Watson, Cundy’s Harbor, Me.
7. John Donahue, Graniteville
8. Brian Hoar, Williston
9. Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, N.H.
10. # Austin Theriault, Fort Kent, Me.
11. # Brad Babb, Windham, Me.
12. Glen Luce, Turner, Me.
13. Brent Dragon, Milton
14. Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier
15. Derek Lynch, Warkworth, Ont.
16. Mark Lamberton, Mooers Forks, N.Y.
17. Craig Bushey, Cambridge
18. Mark Hudson, Norton, Mass.
19. # Dave Paya, Milton
20. # Chris Riendeau, Ascutney
21. Chris Bergeron, Claremont, N.H.
22. Darrell Keane, Springfield, Mass.
23. Dallas Trombley, Rutland
24. Todd Davis, Claremont, N.H.
25. Bryan Town, Charlestown, N.H.
26. Luke Hinkley, Claremont, N.H.
27. Guy Caron, Lempster, N.H.

Photo by Alan Ward