–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
THOMPSON, Conn. — Scott Payea has 37 points and 75 laps that separate him from his first ACT Late Model Tour championship.
The Milton, Vermont driver will carry a 37-point advantage over Dillon Moltz as the ACT Late Model Tour enters its final event of the season on Saturday, October 14 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park as part of the Sunoco World Series.
Unofficially, a finish of ninth or better for Payea during the 75-lap season finale will earn him his first ACT Late Model Tour championship.
Payea finished third one year ago in the Sunoco World Series 75. His Rick Paya-led team won the event with driver Brian Hoar in 2015.
For Moltz, he will look to avenge two near-wins for the past two seasons and let the points fall as they will.
The Waterford, Connecticut driver was caught up in a wreck in 2015 while he was the leader during a late race restart. One year ago, contact with winner Bobby Therrien on the final lap saw Moltz finish second.
For Payea, the championship would be the culmination of a career of near-miss championships.
He has finished second in the ACT Late Model Tour standings four times, including a heartbreaking loss to Patrick Laperle in 2008 when Laperle came-from-behind to claim the championship in victory during the Milk Bowl at Thunder Road. Payea also missed out on Thunder Road’s Flying Tiger championship in 2004 when eventual champion Reno Gervais made a come-from-behind bid during the final race.
While the championship eyes will be on the two drivers who have dominated the 2017 ACT Late Model Tour season, many eyes will see a full field of Late Models compete for the final time this season at Thompson Speedway.
Three drivers are locked in a battle for third place on the ACT Late Model Tour. Jason Corliss holds that third position by 30 points over Rich Dubeau and Jimmy Hebert. Corliss, the recent winner of the 55th Milk Bowl at Thunder Road, will make his first start at Thompson. Dubeau has had a strong breakout season and will to finish his impressive 2017 season. Hebert, who nearly won the ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last month, finished third in the 2015 ACT World Series event.
All five remaining ACT Late Model Tour top-ten championship drivers are expected to attend. Josh Masterson will make his first appearance at Thompson while Rowland Robinson Jr. earned a sixth place finish in 2015. Ziter earned a top-15 place finish last year while Welch posted an 18th place finish in 2015. Mark Hudson also competed in last year’s event.
Eddie MacDonald is expected to be an entrant to Saturday’s event. The Rowley, Mass. driver was leading two years ago when he lost a motor and finished sixth one year ago after he started 14th.
A host of Thompson Late Model regulars are expected to compete, including division point leader Ray Parent. The Tiverton, R.I. driver is on the verge of his first championship and finished fourth in the 2015 event. Other drivers expected to compete in Saturday’s 75-lap event include William Wall, ACT Invitational winner Woody Pitkat, Nicholas Johnson, and Buddy Charette.
Other Thompson Speedway regulars are expected to compete as well.
The Sunoco World Series 75 ACT Late Model Tour will take place on a filled racing card for Saturday, October 14 that includes the Valenti Modified Racing Series championship finale. Qualifying races are set to begin at 2:30pm.
1 – Scott Payea will seek his first ACT Late Model Tour championship on Saturday at Thompson Speedway during the Sunoco World Series. (VMM file photo)
2 – Dillon Moltz sits 37 points back of Payea entering the season finale, but will look for redemption on Saturday at Thompson Speedway. (VMM file photo)