Travis Stearns of Auburn, Maine scored his first career American Canadian Tour victory in one of the biggest races on the 2013 schedule. The rookie held off eight-time ACT Champion Brian Hoar to claim the win in the 35th Annual Vermont Foodbank Labor Day Classic 200 at Thunder Road on Sunday, Sept. 1.
Two-time Thunder Road Champion Dave Pembroke led the entire first half of the 200 lap event, building a large lead through lap traffic before the second caution flag of the event flew on lap 116. Every lead lap car took advantage of the caution period to visit pit road for fresh right side tires. Hoar and Stearns were the first two cars back onto the race track claiming the first and second positions but starting 4th and 5th respectively on the ensuing restart. Pembroke stalled on the exit of pit road and could not get the car refired sending him to the tail of the field.
Stearns gained the advantage on the restart, getting around Hoar through the lapped traffic to take a lead he would never relinquish. Hoar slid back as far as fourth before mounting a comeback with 60 laps to go. He moved his way back into second with just under 50 laps to go and set his sights on Stearns. While Hoar got to his rear bumper with 15 laps remaining, Stearns protected the outside lane. Hoar couldn’t find the bite on the inside and came up a half car length short coming to the line as the two fishtailed to the finish.
Current ACT point leader, Wayne Helliwell, Jr. came from 17th to take third, Pembroke recovered to take fourth and two-time Thunder Road Champion Nick Sweet completed the top five. Current ACT runner-up Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Brooks Clark, Cody Blake, 2013 “King of the Road” Derrick O’Donnell and Jimmy Hebert earned top ten finishes.
The 200 lap event was completed in just 1 hour and eight minutes with 3 total cautions. Thirty of the 34 cars in attendance qualified for the main event.
Stearns became the 14th qualifier for the 5th Annual Bond Auto ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 21.
“Double-O” Joe Steffen of Grand Isle picked up his first Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen win of the season as he got around Randy Gonyaw on the final restart of the event. It was his 10th career Tiger victory. The duo was chased to the line by Mike Martin, Shawn Fleury and Brendan Moodie completing the top five.
Donnie Yates of Montpelier picked up the win in the Allen Lumber Street Stocks as he came from dead last on the 23 car field. He bested Gary Mullen, Tim Campbell, Kevin Dodge and Jennifer Getty.
The American Canadian Tour will be back in action with the non-point counting Bond Auto ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH on Saturday, September 21. They will then decide the 2013 ACT Champion at the Fall Foliage 200 finale at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, NY on Saturday, September 28.
The 2013 season will conclude for the Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen and Allen Lumber Street Stocks with the 51st People’s United Bank Milk Bowl at Thunder Road on Sunday, October 6. Booth Bros./H.P. Hood qualifying day is scheduled for Saturday, October 5. It is a non-point counting event for the American Canadian Tour Late Models.