PHOTO: John Donahue (#26) passes Quinny Welch (#78) for the lead at White Mountain Motorsports Park on Saturday. (Eric LaFleche/ photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson

NORTH WOODSTOCK, N.H. — While the thought of dethroning Brian Hoar may seem difficult to grasp, John Donahue is laying the groundwork to be the one to do it. Donahue, of Graniteville, led the final 75 laps and claimed his first American-Canadian Tour victory of the season at White Mountain Motorsports Park on Saturday.

Tom Carey, Jr., started on the pole after a receiving a “plus six” handicap in his heat race, but it was Ricky Rolfe jumping out to the early lead. Rolfe, of Albany Township, Me., started second and led the first seven laps. Home track favorite Quinny Welch moved to the outside of Rolfe for the lead on lap eight.

Early in the race, it was Welch, of Lancaster, N.H., dominating the event, pulling out to a lengthy lead over the second-place runner — first Rolfe, then Donahue. Welch seemed untouchable and appeared to be on cruise control.

Before a lap 59 restart, it was noticed that Welch possibly had made contact with the outside wall. On the restart, Welch was able to regain the lead, but it was apparent the handling had gone away. Welch was unable to keep the car on the bottom, opening up the lane for Donahue and relinquishing the lead on lap 64.

Donahue and Welch would battle for the lead on a pair of restarts, first on lap 67 then on lap 72. Welch would fight Donahue on the lap 72 restart, regaining the lead for three laps before handing it back to Donahue’s No. 26 National Guard Ford. Welch’s car continued to fade and he eventually retired from the event shortly after lap 100.

The final restart on lap 99 set up a head-to-head battle between Donahue and Hoar, who started third. The pair would make contact a few times before Donahue pulled away to the victory.

“It was time to go,” Donahue said about his pass for the lead on Welch. “Once I got around Quinny, I realized I had a really good car. I drove it hard for the last 80 laps. The car stayed under me the whole race. I didn’t flinch, change, nothing. I just had so much forward bite up off [the corners].”

Randy Potter, of Groveton, N.H., finished second with an impressive run from his 21st starting position.

“It very much [does feel like a win],” said Potter. “If it wasn’t for Speedway Sports Park coming on to help us out we wouldn’t be here. We scrounge money together to put tires on it. We have four or five year old shocks on it. It’s a good piece. Once in a while we get to show it.”

“We should have lit the fuse a little bit sooner, but, geez, it’s great to finish second,” said Potter. “I wish we could have had a restart. I think we would have had something for him.”

Wayne Helliwell, Jr., of Dover, N.H., finished third. Hoar, of Williston, and Jamie Fisher, of Shelburne, completed the top five.

Completing the unofficial top ten were Austin Theriault, Glen Luce, Eric Chase, Ben Ashline, and Dennis Spencer, Jr.

UNOFFICAL RESULTS — White Mountain 150
American-Canadian Tour — White Mountain Motorsports Park, North Woodstock, N.H.
Saturday, June 18, 2011

(# – denotes rookie)

1. (6) John Donahue, Graniteville, Vt.
2. (21) Randy Potter, Groveton, N.H.
3. (8) Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Dover, N.H.
4. (3) Brian Hoar, Williston, Vt.
5. (9) Jamie Fisher, Shelburne, Vt.
6. (20) Austin Theriault, Fort Kent, Me.
7. (14) Glen Luce, Turner, Me.
8. (26) Eric Chase, Milton, Vt.
9. (22) # Ben Ashline, Pittston, Me.
10. (31) Dennis Spencer, Oxford, Me.
11. (15) Luke Hinkley, Claremont, N.H.
12. (24) Brad Babb, Windham, Me.
13. (2) Ricky Rolfe, Albany Township, Me.
14. (5) Stacy Cahoon, St. Johnsbury, Vt.
15. (1) Tom Carey, Jr., New Salem, Mass.
16. (16) Mark Lamberton, Mooers Forks, N.Y.
17. (10) Travis Fadden, North Haverhill, N.H.
18. (25) Jeffrey Labrecque, Jr., Rochester, N.H.
19. (12) Jesse Switser, Lyndonville, Vt.
20. (19) Craig Bushey, Fairfax, Vt.
21. (27) Scott Luce, Strong, Me.
22. (30) Oren Remick, Warner, N.H.
23. (23) Ben Lynch, Derry, N.H.
24. (11) Joey Polewarczyk, Hudson, N.H.
25. (4) Quinny Welch, Lancaster, N.H.
26. (17) Rick Thompson, Jr., Derby, Vt.
27. (29) Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier, Vt.
28. (7) Brent Dragon, Milton, Vt.
29. (18) Eric Williams, Hyde Park, Vt.
30. (28) Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton, Vt.
31. (13) Chip Grenier, Graniteville, Vt.