NEW SMYRNA, Fla. — official series release — Alan Ward photo —
2014 American Canadian Tour (ACT) Champions Alex Labbe and Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. (Pole) have both been celebrated by their peers for their championship runs last season.
The pair now lead twenty-nine (29) teams from eight (8) different states and the province of Quebec to the New Smyrna Speedway World Series of Asphalt Racing to kick off the 2015 ACT season on Feb. 15-17.
The ACT teams will open competition with a 100-lap event on Sunday, Feb. 15 immediately following the season-opening event for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at New Smyrna. Races on Monday and Tuesday nights for the American Racer Cup will also take place at the half-mile track. Each 100-lap feature will provide a separate winner.
The overall combination of points on Monday and Tuesday will determine the winner of the American Racer Challenge Cup. The total purse and prize money posted for the three ACT events is over $55,000.
Quebec has the most teams entered with seven (7), featuring (in addition to Labbe) former ACT Champions Patrick Laperle of Montreal and Donald Theetge from Quebec City.
The always tough Quebec team will also feature Jean-Pierre Ouimet, Martin Latulippe, Daniel Descoste, and Brandon White. Following the ACT events, Labbe, Theetge, and Latulippe plan to compete in the Super Late Model division events for the remainder of the World Series week of racing.
New Hampshire and Massachusetts will each send five teams on the mid-winter southern trip. ACT U.S. Champion Joey Pole is the defending champion of ACT’s first trip to New Smyrna in 2011.
“I can’t think of a better way to start the defense of our Championship in 2015 than to (potentially) grab the win in the American Racer Challenge Cup again,” said Pole. “Even though these races are not point races for our upcoming season, it is a great way to get an early feel for the season. It is not going to be easy, last time at New Smyrna I only won by a point over Brian (Hoar, eight-time ACT Champion), and it looks like this year is really packed with talented teams.”
Two-time ACT title holder Wayne Helliwell, Jr. (Dover), Kyle Welch (Newport), Aaron Fellows (Croydon) and Luke Hinkley (Claremont) will make up the balance of a very potent New Hampshire team.
The surprise for the 2015 trip was the number of Massachusetts teams which will be represented on the Florida swing. Massachusetts is tied with New Hampshire with five teams.
One of the favorites to win any ACT event is Eddie MacDonald from Rowley, Massachusetts. The Rollie Lachance-led team has three New Hampshire Motor Speedway Bond Auto ACT Invitational victories and two Oxford 250 titles with Eddie Mac, and the Freddy Petersen-owned team won the 52nd annual Milk Bowl at Thunder Road last October with MacDonald at the controls.
Veteran NASCAR racer Tom Carey, Jr. will join the Falconi race team at New Smyrna, and long-time ACT competitor Jimbo Linardy will return to New Smyrna as well. Pete Yetman and Eddie Leclerc round out the Massachusetts field.
The State of Vermont will send four (4) teams to Florida. Top five point teams in the 2014 ACT standings included Jimmy Hebert (2nd) and Emily Packard (4th). Both have proven to be skilled long track racers.
“I really am looking forward to heading south. New Smyrna fits my style,” said Hebert. “I love Airborne (half-mile in Plattsburgh, New York) and the mile at New Hampshire. I hear New Smyrna is a little like a big Lee USA, and since that was my first win in ACT racing, I hope that is a good omen for our chances.”
Long time veteran and former winner at NSS, Eric Chase, and 2014 rookie Josh Demers, a Thunder Road Speedbowl regular, make up the balance of the Vermont team.
Maine sends a trio of young talented racers of ACT racing. Rowland Robinson, Jr. will join Travis Stearns, driving for Richard Green Racing, and Bradley Babb will take over the wheel in the Joey Laquerre Late Model at the American Racer Challenge Cup.
The state of Connecticut will be represented by the Rocco brothers. Twins Keith and Jeff will both make the trek south. Both are well known throughout Connecticut for their Modified success at Waterford Speedbowl, Thompson Speedway and Stafford Speedway. Keith is also a multi-time Late Model Champion at Waterford.
Three additional states will send single team representatives. Rhode Island sends ACT veteran Ray Parent from Tiverton. Parent finished third in his ACT Championship bid in 2014, won his first ACT point event at Airborne Park Speedway and is the 2012 New Hampshire Motor Speedway Invitational winner.
“This is our second trip to New Smyrna Speedway. The first trip in 2011 was our first race with ACT and we knew we needed to get competitive real quick to race the season with the ACT Late Model teams. It turned out to be a decision I have never regretted. I am really looking forward to the three races down South,” said Parent.
The 2014 Rookie of the year was Brandon Atkins from Au Sable, New York. The 18 year-old is one of the new young faces of ACT racing. Atkins conducted a test session at New Smyrna a year ago; however, this will be his first competitive effort at the super fast half-mile.
A surprise entry makes up the eighth state represented. One of the newly appointed NASCAR Drive for Diversity team members, Dylan Smith, from Concord, North Carolina has entered the American Racer Challenge Cup. Smith started his career at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl in Barrie, Vermont in an ACT Late Model.
There will be three events of 100 laps each Feb. 15-17. Teams will draw for starting positions in the heat races and will use the unique ACT plus/minus system for feature line ups on Sunday and Monday.
The second leg of the American Racer Challenge Cup on Tuesday will be lined-up based on an inversion from the first leg finish on Monday. (ACT’s plus/minus rewards driver’s points for each position gained in the heat races. Drivers who improve their position in the heats get a “plus” value, while drivers how lose spots in the heats get a “minus” value. These values decide the feature starting line-up).
Full ACT New Smyrna Entry List:
1CT Keith Rocco Berlin, CT
2QC Daniel Descoste St-Joseph, QC
4NY Brandon Atkins Au Sable Forks, NY
9NH Kyle Welch Newport, NH
9ME Emily Packard East Montpelier, VT
10MA Tom Carey, Jr. New Salem, MA
10VT Josh Demers Montpelier, VT
14MA Eddie Leclerc Taunton, MA
15VT Brad Babb Windham, ME
16ME Travis Stearns Auburn, ME
17MA Eddie MacDonald Rowley, MA
17RI Ray Parent Tiverton, RI
21MA Pete Yetman Peru, MA
27NH Wayne Helliwell, Jr. Dover, NH
28ME Rowland Robinson, Jr. Steuben, ME
29NH Aaron Fellows Croydon, NH
31NH Luke Hinkley Claremont, NH
40VT Eric Chase Milton, VT
40NC Dylan Smith Concord, NC
48QC Alex Labbe St-Albert, QC
58VT Jimmy Hebert Williamstown, VT
68CT Jeff Rocco Wallingford, CT
77MA Jimmy Linardy Somerville, MA
80QC Donald Theetge Boischatel, QC
84QC Martin Latulippe Vallee-Jct., QC
91QC Patrick Laperle St-Denis, QC
96QC Brandon White Kahnawake, QC
97NH Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. Hudson, NH
07QC Jean-Pierre Ouimet Terrebonne, QC