–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
VMM Editor

WATERBURY — The ACT Late Model Tour will prepare for a new season off the heels of an exciting championship run in 2016.

Championship runner-up Scott Payea will pilot the Rick Paya-led RPM Motorsports entry for a second straight season after the Milton, Vt. driver returned from a short hiatus. Payea posted three wins and an impressive 10 top-five place finishes in 13 starts and will look to use his season-long familiarity with car owner and crew chief Paya.

Payea’s championship counterparts from one year ago, champion Nick Sweet and third place Eddie MacDonald, have indicated that they are unlikely to run a full season, which is likely to leave the championship battle wide open.

Two drivers that may be looking to fill that void are two returning drivers that have filed full-season entries — Dillon Moltz and Bobby Therrien.

The Waterford, Ct. driver Moltz picked up his first career ACT Late Model Tour win at White Mountain Motorsports Park in July and was a threat at many events throughout the season. Therrien, of Hinesburg, Vt., bookended the season with wins at Oxford Plains Speedway and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park while bringing on three-time Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl champion Derrick O’Donnell into the fold to as chief setup man.

Thunder Road Late Model champion Scott Dragon has also filed a full season ACT Late Model Tour entry for 2017. The Milton, Vt. driver for Richard Green Racing will also compete at Thunder Road to defend his championship, but will look to add a potential ACT crown to his shelf. Dragon has three career ACT Late Model Tour wins to his resume.

Two-time Devil’s Bowl Speedway Late Model champion Josh Masterson  will make the jump to the ACT Late Model Tour. Multi-time Thunder Road race winner and Milk Bowl runner-up Jason Corliss has filed a full season entry and will make his first foray onto the ACT Late Model Tour. The Barre, Vt. driver posted a career best — and surprise — third place finish at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in September and has been strong at weekly Thunder Road Late Model competition over the past few seasons.

Jimmy Hebert has filed a full season entry on the ACT Late Model Tour for 2017 and was a strong contender in every race he competed one year ago. Fellow Vermont driver Mike Ziter has also filed an entry to return to the full slate of ACT Late Model Tour races in 2017. Connecticut newcomer Ray Christian has also filed a full season entry.

The ACT Late Model Tour season will open on on Sunday, April 23 at Lee USA Speedway for the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150.

(Alan Ward photo)