PHOTO: Patrick Laperle is one of a dozen Canadian Late Model drivers headed to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)

LOUDON, N.H. — The All-Star Late Model Challenge at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will be a melting pot of short track racing teams from around the Northeast this weekend. With championship points on the line for both of the American-Canadian Tour sanctioning body’s traveling series, a significant portion of that group will be from north of the border.

The Canadian ACT Castrol Series is expected to be represented by about a dozen teams, led by drivers Patrick Laperle, Karl Allard, Donald Theetge, and Jean-Francois Dery.

Laperle, of St-Denis-sur-Richelieu, Que., near Montreal, is easily the name most familiar to American fans, having competed and won with regularity in the United States for more than a decade. Laperle is a former champion of both the Castrol Series and the U.S.-based ACT Late Model Tour, and has won races from his native Quebec to Florida. Allard and Theetge are former ACT Castrol champions, and Dery is perennially one of the series’ top drivers.

Laperle, the current Castrol point leader, finished fourth at New Hampshire in the 2009 ACT Invitational and tenth last year.

“I’m good there, I like that place,” Laperle said on Wednesday. While preparing for a test session at the 1.058-mile track last week, Laperle’s team found a broken part in the car’s rear end. It forced them to miss a test session Tuesday, August 2.

“We were changing gears on Monday night and there were some funny parts in the rear end,” Laperle explained. “It’s a good thing we found it a week before the race, but now I don’t know what to expect. We’re still working on the car to make it faster, but we only have an hour of practice [Friday morning]. It could be a pretty long day.”

Dery, of Quebec City, was the top Canadian at the ACT Invitational at New Hampshire last September, running among the leaders the entire distance and finishing sixth. Driving a new chassis, Dery performed well at last week’s test session, though he would have liked to have been better.

“It’s good for the second time in a brand new car, but it’s tough [learning about superspeedway] adjustments,” Dery said. “Eddie MacDonald is much faster than me.”

Rowley, Mass., driver MacDonald — a four-time winner at NHMS combining ACT and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East statistics — turned lap times in the 31.7-second range. Dery’s best lap was a 32.004 and he ranked among the top ten fastest drivers all day.

“To win, it’s important to run in the 31s,” Dery said, studying the right-front corner of his car. “I’m just on the line of 31. I ran a 32-second-flat and I changed the front suspension. My car is not good on entry and lost a lot of time on the stretch because I push the gas on the floor late and lose two or three tenths of a second. I have no traction on entry. It’s good for the first time [at New Hampshire] with this car, but I want to go faster.”

St-Felicien, Que., veteran Allard is expected to debut a car new to him at New Hampshire — the same car that NASCAR star Kyle Busch drove to victory in last month’s TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine. Allard’s Denis Larue-led team purchased the car that another NASCAR star, Kevin Harvick, won at Oxford with in 2008, and Allard has won seven races and the 2010 Castrol championship since. Other Canadian racers expected to attempt to qualify for the 44-car All-Star Late Model Challenge starting field on Friday include Ontario’s Justin Holtom and Quebec racers Patrick Hamel, David Michaud, Alex Labbe, Dany Trepanier, Claude Leclerc, Patrick and Marc-Andre Cliche, and rookie Yannick Tremblay.

Laperle and Dery both said that winning the race would be important for Quebecois and Canadian fans, but that the goal is to win for their own teams.

“I want to win, man,” Dery said. “I want to improve my finish, I want to be on the podium. Last year I finished sixth, this year I want to do better and finish in the top three. I want to win just for me and for the team. It’s a small team and it’s important to them when I go everywhere to have a fast car. It’s for my team and for my sponsors in Quebec.”

“If it’s not me, I don’t care who wins,” Laperle joked. “If it’s a Quebec driver I would be happy for them, but I want to win it for me and the team. I need to win for the points.”