PHOTO: Jeff Taylor rebounded from a tough loss at the TD Bank 250 with his first ACT Late Model Tour win at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on Saturday. (Eric LaFleche/ photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson

SCARBOROUGH, Me. — Jeff Taylor was able to get some redemption Saturday night at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. After suffering another heart breaking defeat in the TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway a week ago, Taylor led 31 laps en route to the victory in the American-Canadian Tour’s Casco Bay Ford 150.

The Farmington, Me., racer’s ride to victory, however, didn’t go unchallenged. Taylor faced an intense fight from Wayne Helliwell, Jr., as the duo traded the lead six times over the final 40 laps.

Taylor first took the lead from Helliwell on lap 94 and held it until a lap 109 caution flag. It seemed the cautions were Taylor’s downfall, as Helliwell was able to take advantage of the restarts and retake the lead from Taylor. After losing the lead though, Taylor was patient and made his move when he felt the time was right. Taylor worked inside Helliwell, regaining the lead for two laps on lap 123, but relinquished it again to Helliwell.

Taylor once again worked to the inside of Helliwell on lap 134, only to have another caution flag fly. Again, Helliwell was able to take the lead on the restart, but Taylor jumped to the outside of Helliwell a few laps later, taking the lead for good on lap 139 and securing his first career ACT Late Model Tour victory.

“We were pretty even for quite a while,” said Taylor. “[Helliwell] gave me a lot of respect and I tried to return the respect. I think we did that very well. The car worked out very well. It just couldn’t have turned out any better for us. This is a perfect day.”

Taylor believed his slow pace after restarts was caused by a number of reasons, but was thankful of the way Helliwell raced him.

“My car, me, I don’t run a lot of races,” explained Taylor. “This is only the fifth one [this year]. I got sideways on the first restart we had. I knew we had a good car and just tried to be patient. I just tried to put ourselves in a great place. I can’t say enough about how Wayne raced me. I’ve been in a lot of races and that was really smooth. He was great.”

Helliwell, of Dover, N.H., was happy with his team’s second-place finish after struggling at a similar track, Oxford, earlier in the season.

“The car was just a little tight from the start,” said Helliwell. “It was good clean racing side by side with Jeff. We usually struggle on flat tracks. We’re starting to slowly pick up on it and we’re really proud of the team.”

The last caution flag brought a smile to Helliwell’s face, giving him one last chance to fight Taylor for the lead. And, like Taylor was to Helliwell, he was thankful of the way Taylor raced him.

“I was really happy [to see that last yellow],” Helliwell said. “You never know what could happen. It gave the tires a chance to cool down and we were able to get the jump and pull away for a couple of laps. But the tires heated back up and the car tightened back up. [Taylor] did one heck of a job. He was very respectful in the way we raced. If there were more people like him, then the racing would be awesome.”

Groveton, N.H.’s Randy Potter finished third after starting from the seventh position and racing in the top five nearly all race. Polesitter Jeffrey Labrecque, Jr., of Rochester, N.H., faded to eighth early in the race but was able to rebound and finished fourth. Austin Theriault, of Fort Kent, Me., riding the momentum of his third-place finish at the TD Bank 250, completed the top five finishers.

Current points leader Brian Hoar finished sixth. Nick Sweet, subbing for Eric Chase, who was away on a business trip, finished seventh. Dave Farrington, Jr., secured his career-best ACT finish with eighth. Brad Babb and Glen Luce completed the unofficial top ten.

Nine-time Oxford track champion Taylor said his team has worked hard to get to the point of contending for victories, and while he was disappointed it did not come one week earlier, he was happy to finally win in his Late Model. His last ACT win came in a Pro Stock Tour race in 1994.

“It’s big,” Taylor said. “This is the first ACT Late Model victory for us. This is huge. We’ve worked really hard trying to get this straightened out the best we could. Today is a culmination of all that. It’s not the 250. That’s awfully big in my heart, but I love [Beech Ridge]. We always run good here.”

The American-Canadian Tour continues it season with the Late Model All Star Challenge at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Qualifying is set for Friday, August 12, while two Milk Bowl-style features are scheduled for Saturday, August 13. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and qualifying for the IZOD IndyCar Series will join the All-Star Challenge features on Saturday.

American-Canadian Tour — Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, Scarborough, Me.
Saturday, July 30, 2011

(# – denotes rookie)

1. (3) Jeff Taylor, Farmington, Me.
2. (8) Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Dover, N.H.
3. (7) Randy Potter, Groveton, N.H.
4. (1) Jeffrey Labrecque, Jr., Rochester, N.H.
5. (5) Austin Theriault, Fort Kent, Me.
6. (2) Brian Hoar, Williston, Vt.
7. (22) Nick Sweet, Barre, Vt.
8. (9) # Dave Farrington, Jr., Jay, Me.
9. (12) Brad Babb, Windham, Me.
10. (4) Glen Luce, Turner, Me.
11. (6) Tim Brackett, Buckfield, Me.
12. (26) J.R. Baril, Haverhill, Mass.
13. (20) Brent Dragon, Milton, Vt.
14. (11) Corey Morgan, Lewiston, Me.
15. (13) Mark Lamberton, Mooers Forks, N.Y.
16. (24) Ray Parent, Tiverton, R.I.
17. (21) # Ben Ashline, Pittston, Me.
18. (32) Chris Smith, Buxton, Me.
19. (16) John Donahue, Graniteville, Vt.
20. (25) Mark Anzalone, Jr., Malden, Mass.
21. (33) T.J. Brackett, Buxton, Me.
22. (18) # Shane Green, South Paris, Me.
23. (10) Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, N.H.
24. (17) Ricky Rolfe, Albany Township, Me.
25. (28) Todd Davis, Claremont, N.H.
26. (15) # Pete Yetman, Peru, Mass.
27. (27) # Rowland Robinson, Jr., Birch Harbor, Me.
28. (19) Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier, Vt.
29. (29) Shawn Knight, South Paris, Me.
30. (34) James Linardy, Somerville, Mass.
31. (23) Dennis Spencer, Jr., Oxford, Me.
32. (14) Luke Hinkley, Claremont, N.H.
33. (30) Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton, Vt.
34. (31) Greg Peters, Westbrook, Me.