PHOTO: Patrick Laperle is adding a new chapter to his New Smyrna Speedway book this week. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. — Patrick Laperle is writing his own story at New Smyrna Speedway.

The first chapters were written nearly a decade ago at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing when the St-Denis, Que., driver first broke into Super Late Model competition. The most recent chapters have been exciting; since 2009 the protagonist has won four times and finished second in the ASA/Crate Late Model division championship twice.

“I love it. I love that track,” said the Frenchman.

With a record like that, how could he not? As good as he’s had it at New Smyrna, though, Laperle’s story leaves him wanting more. After winning three consecutive nights in 2009 and taking the point lead, he wrecked out on the next-to-last night and was unable to race in the finale. Last year, he rebounded from an 18th-place effort in his first race with a win and two third-place finishes, but rain wiped out the three remaining races and cut a title bid short.

The cover of the book may look familiar this year, but Laperle insists that he’ll be writing a different story on its pages. Rather than try again in the Crate division, Laperle leads the American-Canadian Tour to the Florida coast for the inaugural ACT Goodyear Speedweeks Cup. ACT joins the World Series for the first time this weekend, and will hold 100-lap events on Sunday and Monday nights. Twenty-eight teams from the northeast and Canada have entered the doubleheader special.

Like any good book, this one does in fact have its twists.

The former ACT Late Model Tour and ACT Castrol Edge Series champion is confident in his chances, but thinks there are a certain number of unknowns that could spell trouble. For starters, the regular divisions competing in the nine-night World Series marathon get many practice sessions throughout the week, but the ACT teams will see only two hours on Sunday and just 30 minutes on Monday.

There’s the car itself: Laperle is racing his ACT Late Model this year, rather than his Crate Late Model. The Crate car had a snappier engine and lots of pull out of the corners, while the ACT car has a power plant that relies heavily on momentum and builds its speed down the straightaway.

“It was hard to pass with the engine we ran last year, and it’s going to be even harder with the ACT engine,” Laperle explained.

Then, there’s the rules. New Smyrna Speedway officials have outlawed the use of tire treatments and softener at this year’s World Series, and Laperle says that will affect everyone. On top of that, while the Crate car had wider, softer 10-inch Hoosier tires with more grip, the ACT car has narrower, harder 8-inch Goodyear tires that can make cornering tougher.

“We were allowed to soak tires last year but we can’t this year,” Laperle said, also noting the long-standing ACT rule that abolishes tire treatments. “We didn’t soak our tires even when we were allowed to, but at least we knew how the rubber was going to be laid down on the track. This year we have to wait and see. The handling won’t be the same, that’s for sure.”

But these, Laperle says, are minor issues. In his estimation, the biggest threat comes in the form of a trio of drivers: Brian Hoar, Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., and Karl Allard.

“It’s always them, they’re always good,” he says.

Hoar, of Williston, is a seven-time ACT Late Model Tour champion and has won each of the last two titles. Hudson, N.H., driver Polewarczyk had a career year in 2010 and won five ACT events. Allard, of St-Felicien, Que., won six of eleven ACT Castrol Edge Series races last year and beat Laperle for that tour’s championship.

But Laperle has beaten them before, too; last year alone he took three Castrol wins, won twice on the U.S. side, and obliterated everyone at the all-star ACT Showdown at Chaudiere when all three were antagonists on the track — and all but Hoar and Donald Theetge were left a lap down.

Laperle wants to build on his success at New Smyrna and thinks he can, but still says it’s a different chapter he’s adding to his book this year.

“It’s ACT this year, it’s not the Crate car. It’s not the same, it’s two different stories,” Laperle says. “It would be like if I ran a Modified this year, it’s not the same. We’re gonna go back to the Crate story next year I think.”

The best novelists can work in a plot twist every now and then and keep the reader’s attention. So, too, apparently, can Patrick Laperle.