PHOTO: Brian Hoar (left) and car owner Rick Paya celebrate their seventh ACT Late Model Tour championships. (Leif Tillotson photo)

WATERFORD, Conn. — Brian Hoar might have lost the battle on Sunday at Waterford Speedbowl, but he won the American-Canadian Tour war. In fact, that was decided a month ago.

Hoar is now a seven-time champion of the series and enters into a tie with long-time friend and rival Jean-Paul Cyr as co-record holders for number of championships in 25-year history of the sanctioning body, outdoing legends like Robbie Crouch and Junior Hanley.

Hoar joined car owner and crew chief Rick Paya’s No. 37 RPM Motorsports team in 2009 — the same man that Cyr won five ACT titles with — and has yet to lose a championship. In point-counting events for ACT, the Hoar-Paya combination has combined for five wins and 18 top-five finishes in 26 starts since last year. In fact, the team hasn’t finished outside the top-ten since a wreck a White Mountain Motorsports Park sixteen months ago.

“I don’t know what to say about the year, it’s just been an awesome year,” said Hoar. “This business is all about the law of averages; you go out and try to win races, and if you can’t win them you better finish second, and if you can’t finish second you better finish third. The guy with the lowest average is usually the one with the biggest trophy at the end of the year, and that’s where we’re at. It’s just been an unbelievable year.”

With three victories and nine podiums this season, Hoar says 2010 has been the best year of his career. So how does he plan to top those performances?

“I don’t know. Obviously, winning races is addictive,” he says. “I think if you could go out and win five, six, seven, eight races in a year and wreck four or five times, I think that’d be pretty satisfying, too, but that’s not the overall picture that we’ve been about. We’ve been about trying to go out there and win championships as well as races, and we’ve never held anything back. My style is to try to save something for the end and try to have something to lead the last lap and it doesn’t always work out, [but] I’ve never had a season where we’ve had this number of podium finishes. Never. And I dare say nobody else has, either. It’s been an amazing year and I don’t know how it gets any better.”

Hoar isn’t resting on his laurels for 2011, though. While he finished second at Waterford, he lost — badly, as did everyone else — to Joey Polewarczyk for the third race in a row. Before that, Patrick Laperle dominated back-to-back ACT events.

“That kid right there gives me all the motivation I need to come back, that’s all the motivation I need right there, man,” said Hoar, pointing toward Polewarczyk as he loaded his race car into his trailer. “Staring at that on the back of that rear bumper, I’ve gotten too familiar with the back of that bumper cover. It doesn’t matter if it was him or if it was Patrick [Laperle],” said Hoar. “I think that’s what’s awesome about this series; on a given day or a given week or a given month, somebody was dominant.”

Polewarczyk ended the year with consecutive victories at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the ACT Invitational, at Thunder Road’s Milk Bowl, and the finale at Waterford. Laperle also had a three-for-three stretch in the ACT Showdown all-star event at Autodrome Chaudiere, Thunder Road’s Labor Day Classic 200, and the Fall Foliage 300 at Airborne Speedway. Hoar finished fourth or better in each of those six events.

Hoar also had his own stretch of dominance, winning three out of five races in the middle part of the season with back-to-back wins at White Mountain and Airborne and a third win at Circuit Riverside Speedway in Quebec.

“It was [sometimes me] and it wasn’t,” said Hoar of a particular driver dominating ACT. “I didn’t win a race for the first two months. Remember the first six weeks, it was all these outsiders winning; Miles Chipman was Brian Hoar (#37), Eddie MacDonald (#17), and others took turns dominating ACT racing in 2010. (Alan Ward photo)absolutely dominant one particular race [at Lee USA], and Eddie MacDonald was definitely dominant for two or three races [at Oxford Plains]. On a given week or a given month, it’s been somebody else. Patrick Laperle all of a sudden looks pretty dominant. You go to the Castrol Series [in Canada] and Karl Allard is dominant. That’s kind of what’s cool, if you hit it on the money everybody’s capable of running really well. Obviously it’s sometimes not in our favor, but it keeps changing.”

Hoar thinks the same type of streaking dominance could happen with the ACT championship. History is on the side of that logic; Hoar won four consecutive titles from 1997 to 2000 and has won the last two, while Cyr won five-straight in 2003-07. In ACT’s formative years, Crouch won six out of eight from 1983 to 1990, Hanley won each year from 1991 to 1993, and Beaver Dragon and Dick McCabe each had back-to-back titles. Hoar’s current streak could extend to three next year, but he says it’s just as likely that another driver’s streak could begin.

“Ultimately, we know [Cyr] wants it bad and they’re working feverishly for next year,” Hoar said. “Brent Dragon, you know he wants it bad. He’s a great race car driver and he’s got a good race team. They’re not going to give up, they’re going to work hard next year. The [John] Donahue team, I mean, my God, they’re going to put in one hell of an effort. And you know these guys on the 97 [Polewarczyk] crew are going to be awesome next year. There’s a whole host of them.”

Hoar says there could be some surprises, too, pointing to Maine racer Glen Luce. Luce came to ACT in 2008 and ran well in his first two seasons, but struggled with a new chassis and engine combination in 2010. He finished third at Waterford for his first top-ten of the season, building on Hoar’s theory of different drivers performing well at different times.

“The way Glen Luce just ran is the way he should have been running all year and I’m glad to see it,” said Hoar. “He’s a great race car driver, it just hasn’t showed all year. It’s a perfect example of on a given week, somebody’s going to run really good. He was on top of the speed charts for three out of the four practices, and ran like it in the race. He didn’t have the history all year to necessarily make that fine-tune adjustment and say what the car’s going to need for the end. That was his first top ten, that’s unbelievable. We know him as a top runner, it just hasn’t happened. It’s cool.

“This business is so funny because it can turn you so fast. All of a sudden you crash, all of a sudden the motor breaks, all of a sudden a hub fails. The brakes go the next week, and all of a sudden you’ve got four DNFs or four bad weeks and you’re out of the points and you’re not sure where you went wrong. It’s like these guys on the [Polewarczyk] team at the beginning of the year.”

Hoar’s season never encountered any of the problems that virtually every other driver did. If there was one blemish, it was an eighth-place finish at Twin State Speedway in July, but that only came after another driver knocked Hoar out of the way on the final lap. He credited the preparation of his Paya-led team with the success.

“What we just did [in finishing up front], we did every week, and I hand it to Rick. He’s very talented, very focused and very hard-working, and he’s got a whole bunch of great guys. Andrew [Hill] is kind of his right-hand man when it comes to that car. Andrew’s really sharp, he’s a smart kid and does a wonderful job. Every time I strap into that race car I’ve got full faith that it’s going to be capable of running good and running fast. It’s got to stop, it’s got to go, and it’s got to last the whole race.

“They’ve given me no reason not to [have faith]. Two years in a row [we’ve won the championship], the first time we’re ever together. The chemistry is so crucial. We had a blast this weekend, all weekend. We had a blast last weekend. Every week has been fun. I don’t know how it gets better, I don’t suppose it could. I really don’t think, realistically, that it will. I don’t think, realistically, I could top this year next year, or the year after or the year after. But it doesn’t mean we’re not going to try.”