ACT Late Model Tour reaches midway point in 2016 season

GROVETON, N.H. – One year after a standing room only crowd filled Speedway 51 for their first event under the ownership of Joey Laquerre, the ACT Late Model returns to the quarter-mile high-banked oval on Saturday.

Nick Sweet will lead the traveling Late Model series into its seventh race of the season in a different spot – at the top of the point standings. The Barre, Vt. driver is fresh off of his win at Devil’s Bowl Speedway and is the only driver to claim multiple wins this season.

For Sweet, he may have a love-hate relationship with the tight bullring that sits on the banks of the Connecticut River. He earned a $10,000 payday three years ago in the Fall Brawl when the track was known by its former name, Riverside Speedway. But, he was involved in a major wreck during last year’s Fall Brawl event that left his race car practically destroyed.

Chasing Sweet in the standings is Eddie MacDonald. The Rowley, Mass. native sits 33 point back of Sweet in the standings as the series hits the midway point in the 2016 season. MacDonald claimed an ACT win at the track two years ago before it was stripped for a minor post-race technical infraction that involved a spring rubber. He did, however, back that result up with a Fall Brawl win of his own later that year.

For MacDonald, he looks to rebound after a disappointing Devil’s Bowl finish. An uncharacteristic finish of 17th in a backup car – albeit the same car that took him to two Oxford 250 wins and three New Hampshire Motor Speedway ACT Invitational wins – saw a 44-point swing go negatively his way.

Scott Payea and Wayne Helliwell Jr. sit tied for third in the ACT Late Model Tour standings, just four points back of MacDonald. Payea, of Milton, Vt., will make his first ACT Late Model Tour start at Speedway 51 while Helliwell, of Dover, N.H., is the defending race winner. Oxford Plains Speedway ACT winner Bobby Therrien of Hinesburg, Vt., sits fifth in the standings, but may use his Fall Brawl win last autumn to his advantage.

Sixth place point driver Dillon Moltz will make his first Speedway 51 ACT Late Model Tour start. Brad Babb, Brandon Atkins, Rowland Robinson Jr., and Emily Packard complete the rest of the top-ten point drivers into Speedway 51.

A host of Speedway 51 drivers are expected to compete in the Central Asphalt Paving Lil Joey Generation Next 151 on Saturday.

Mike Bailey of South Barre, Vt., lead the Speedway 51 Late Model standings after his opening night win and sat on the pole position for the event last season. The Mason brothers, Bryan and Corey, are likely to represent their home track as is Derek Ming and Shawn Swallow.

Speedway 51’s Tigers, Street Stocks, and Dare Devils will also compete with the ACT Late Model Tour. Post time is set for 5:30pm.

PHOTO: Nick Sweet will lead the ACT Late Model Tour into Speedway 51 on Saturday night, June 18. (VMM file photo)