Belanger Overwhelms Field in Flying Tiger Oxford Open
Photo: Daniel Holben
Oxford, ME — Turner, ME’s Ben Rowe and Williamstown, VT’s Jimmy Hebert took home the glory of the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) season finale at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway on Sunday, October 18. Rowe broke a long ACT dry spell with his victory in the Lee’s Family Trailer Sales & Service 150 while Hebert’s third-place finish clinched his first ACT Late Model Tour championship.
For Rowe, it was the multi-time Pro All Star Series champion’s first win in an ACT-sanctioned event since 2006 — a drought of more than 14 years. Hebert, meanwhile, finally claimed a title after having finished second or third in the ACT standings four different times during his career.
Stark, NH’s Jamie Swallow Jr. set the early tempo, snatching the lead from polesitter Marcel J. Gravel amidst a trio of early cautions. Once the field got going, Swallow checked out, putting several seconds between himself and a raging battle that included Ryan Kuhn, Rowe, Tom Carey III, D.J Shaw, Derek Gluchacki, and others.
Swallow ran away again following a pair of lap-42 yellows, but when the race resumed after a lap-62 red flag for T.J. Laro’s head-on frontstretch crash, things tightened up at the front. Rowe stuck with Swallow this time around while Shaw, who entered the event as the only driver who could catch Hebert for the title, also got into the mix.
After following an increasingly loose Swallow through some lapped traffic, Rowe put his Ford to the inside entering turn one on the 81st circuit, completing the pass just before the seventh caution flag flew for Jeff Lebrecque Jr.’s spin. Swallow put his bumper back ahead for a lap following the restart, but Rowe surged in front once again the next time around.
Hebert, who by that point needed only a 16th-placce finish to salt away the championship, then put on a blitz of his own. The Vermonter moved into third following the lap-81 caution and slid into second after a lap-107 yellow when Peyton Lanphear climbed the dirt pile in front of a backstretch light pole. As Swallow and Shaw got shuffled backwards, the Massachusetts trio of Carey, Kuhn, and Gluchacki rejoined the fray.
One final caution after Lebrecque pounded the wall on the front chute set up a 36-lap shootout to end the season. As the laps wound down, Rowe, Hebert, Carey III, and Kuhn broke away, running inches apart for the win. Carey got beneath Hebert for second with five laps to go and made a run at Rowe, but the crafty veteran held him off by a car length for the win.
Carey’s second-place finish was still the best of his ACT career. Hebert took third and the championship along with it. Kuhn came in fourth while Gluchacki secured the ACT Rookie of the Year award with a career-best fifth-place result. Swallow, Stephen Donahue, Erick Sands, and Gravel rounded out the top-10.
Young hard charger Ben Belanger of Whitefield, NH put on a master class in the ACT Flying Tiger Oxford Open to pick up his second win of the season. Belanger started on the outside pole and immediately put his fender out front of Hardwick, VT’s Jaden Perry. After running side-by-side for several laps, Belanger got clear and immediately started driving away from the field.
Reigning Thunder Road Flying Tiger champion Jason Woodard got around Perry for second following a lap-23 caution for Colin Cornell’s stalled machine. Waterbury Center, VT’s Woodard did his best to try and snooker Belanger on two subsequent restarts, but Belanger had more than enough to counter.
The youngster pulled away following the final caution at lap-42 to win by a straightaway over Woodard. All three of Belanger’s career Flying Tiger victories have now come in 75-lap races, with the Oxford Plain Speedway triumph joining two at New Hampshire’s White Mountain Motorsports Park.
Behind the lead duo, the action stayed hot with the rest of the frontrunners swapping positions back and forth. Thetford, VT’s Brandon Gray picked his way through the pack to finish a strong third. Kelsea Woodard made a spirited run at catching Gray in the closing stages before settling for fourth. Sam Caron, Cameron Ouellette, Perry, Bryan Wall Jr., Tanner Woodard, and Kevin Streeter completed the top-10.
The 2020 American-Canadian Tour racing season is now complete. The status of the annual ACT Banquet of Champions is up in the air pending local health and safety guidelines. The 2021 schedule will be announced before the end of the year.
OXFORD PLAINS SPEEDWAY – OXFORD, ME
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2020
ACT LATE MODEL TOUR
LEE’S FAMILY TRAILER SALES & SERVICE 150
Pos., Start Pos., Driver, Car #, Hometown, Laps
1. ( 13 ) Ben Rowe ( 4ME ) , Turner, ME , 150 Laps
2. ( 3 ) #Tom Carey III ( 5MA ) , New Salem, MA , 150 Laps
3. ( 11 ) Jimmy Hebert ( 58VT ) , Williamstown, VT , 150 Laps
4. ( 5 ) Ryan Kuhn ( 72MA ) , E.Bridgewater, MA , 150 Laps
5. ( 14 ) #Derek Gluchacki ( 03MA ) , Dartmouth, MA , 150 Laps
6. ( 2 ) Jamie Swallow Jr. ( 4NH ) , Stark, NH , 150 Laps
7. ( 9 ) Stephen Donahue ( 2VT ) , Graniteville, VT , 150 Laps
8. ( 6 ) D.J. Shaw ( 04VT ) , Center Conway, NH , 150 Laps
9. ( 22 ) Erick Sands ( 36NH ) , Hampton, NH , 150 Laps
10. ( 1 ) #Marcel J. Gravel ( 86VT ) , Wolcott, VT , 150 Laps
11. ( 29 ) Dylan Payea ( 7NH ) , Milton, VT , 150 Laps
12. ( 20 ) Joey Laquerre ( 15VT ) , E. Montpelier, VT , 150 Laps
13. ( 10 ) Dillon Moltz ( 5ME ) , New Sharon, ME , 150 Laps
14. ( 16 ) Bryan Kruczek ( 19NH ) , Newmarket, NH , 150 Laps
15. ( 17 ) Christopher Pelkey ( 64VT ) , Graniteville, VT , 149 Laps
16. ( 15 ) Brockton Davis ( 47NH ) , Whitefield, NH , 148 Laps
17. ( 23 ) Reilly Lanphear ( 21VT ) , Waterbury, VT , 148 Laps
18. ( 27 ) James Linardy ( 77MA ) , Somerville, MA , 146 Laps
19. ( 18 ) Peyton Lanphear ( 22VT ) , Waterbury, VT , 146 Laps
20. ( 7 ) Jamie Aube ( 41VT ) , Charlotte, VT , 146 Laps
21. ( 24 ) Matt Anderson ( 49NH ) , Andover, NH , 145 Laps
22. ( 28 ) Tom Sheehan ( 65NH ) , Bow, NH , 143 Laps
23. ( 25 ) #David MacDonald ( 69ME ) , New Gloucester, ME , 142 Laps
24. ( 19 ) Jeff Lebrecque Jr. ( 12NH ) , Rochester, NH , 114 Laps
25. ( 26 ) Randy Cole Jr. ( 55MA ) , Middleton, MA , 92 Laps
26. ( 8 ) Jesse Switser ( 25NH ) , W. Burke, VT , 91 Laps
27. ( 30 ) Bryan Mason ( 10NH ) , Milan, NH , 83 Laps
28. ( 4 ) T.J. Laro ( 27NC ) , Franklin, NH , 62 Laps
29. ( 12 ) Matthew Morrill ( 9NH ) , Moultonborough, NH , 47 Laps
30. ( 21 ) Bobby Therrien ( 5VT ) , Hinesburg, VT , 43 Laps
Lap Leaders: Marcel J. Gravel, pole; Jamie Swallow Jr., 1-80; Ben Rowe, 81; Swallow, 82; Rowe, 83-150. (4 lead changes among 3 drivers)
Time of Race: 1 hour, 29 minutes, 46 seconds Margin of Victory: 0.299 seconds
Cautions: 9 (laps 0, 1, 5, 42, 42, 62, 81, 107, 116)
Heat Winners: Jimmy Hebert, Matthew Morrill, Ben Rowe
Consi Winner: Tom Carey III
ACT FLYING TIGERS
Pos., Start Pos., Driver, Car #, Hometown, Laps
1. ( 2 ) Ben Belanger ( 99NH ) , Whitefield, NH , 75 Laps
2. ( 3 ) Jason Woodard ( 68VT ) , Waterbury Ctr., VT , 75 Laps
3. ( 9 ) Brandon Gray ( 00VT ) , Thetford, VT , 75 Laps
4. ( 10 ) Kelsea Woodard ( 55VT ) , Waterbury Ctr., VT , 75 Laps
5. ( 4 ) Sam Caron ( 07VT ) , Milton, VT , 75 Laps
6. ( 6 ) Cameron Ouellette ( 90VT ) , Barre, VT , 75 Laps
7. ( 1 ) Jaden Perry ( 92VT ) , Hardwick, VT , 75 Laps
8. ( 15 ) Bryan Wall Jr. ( 77NH ) , Kingston, NH , 75 Laps
9. ( 12 ) Tanner Woodard ( 68NH ) , Waterbury Ctr., VT , 75 Laps
10. ( 17 ) Kevin Streeter ( 67VT ) , Waitsfield, VT , 75 Laps
11. ( 8 ) Justin Prescott ( 44VT ) , Williston, VT , 75 Laps
12. ( 14 ) Kasey Beattie ( 45NH ) , St. Johnsbury, VT , 74 Laps
13. ( 5 ) Michael Clark ( 2VT ) , Littleton, NH , 74 Laps
14. ( 16 ) Aaron Maynard ( 45VT ) , Lyndonville, VT , 73 Laps
15. ( 11 ) Colin Cornell ( 54VT ) , E. Burke, VT , 45 Laps
16. ( 7 ) Matthew Potter ( 23VT ) , Marshfield, VT , 44 Laps
17. ( 13 ) Eric Messier ( 88NY ) , Hinesburg, VT , 8 Laps
Lap Leaders: Jaden Perry, pole; Ben Belanger, 1-75. (1 lead change among 2 drivers)
Time of Race: 30 minutes, 44 seconds Margin of Victory: 2.028 seconds
Cautions: 3 (laps 23, 28, 42)
Heat Winners: Mike Clark, Cameron Ouellette