Photo by Leif Tillotson
Patrick Laperle Wins 2002 ACT Dodge Tour Premiere At Star Speedway
Epping, NH - - Patrick Laperle of St Denis, Quebec withstood a lap 96 restart that brought Phil Scott alongside him for a four-lap shootout, and went on to win the New England Dodge Dealers 100 ACT Late Model series opener at Star Speedway. The 26 year-old Canadian and Scott had broken away from the pack and were racing four car lengths apart in front of a fierce duel for third between Rich Lowrey, Todd Stone and Brent Dragon when the caution came out. Laperle held serve at the drop of the green in the Demers Ambulance Service Chevrolet for his third ACT career victory.
Laperle's flawless performance included a critical save after being hit from behind exiting turn four while leading the race on lap 46. The 26 year-old Canadian started seventh and went door to door for more than 20 laps with outside pole sitter Rich Lowrey before he took the lead to stay on lap 40.
"When the last yellow came out, I thought something might happen and that it wouldn't be good, but everything turned out great," said Laperle. "I learned last year to take it easy on my tires when I could and that helped today, even though I raced Lowrey hard for the lead."
Lowrey's strong third place showing came despite a hard trip into the front stretch wall during qualifying. He finished two car lengths ahead of the late-chargingTodd Stone (4th) and Brent Dragon (5th). Eighteen year-old Ryan Moore of Scarborough, Me was 6th, a car length ahead of veteran Buzzie Bezanson. Mike Bruno, Ken Dufour, and Cris Michaud completed the top ten.
Lowrey's third place effort was his the second best finish of his ACT career. "It wasn't easy," he said, "the car's still bent, but the crew did a lot of work and got me back out here."
Scott won his heat and the semi-feature and said he thought he had a shot at Laperle, but as the laps wound down Laperle stayed strong. "I had a great car and I'll take second, especially after the way I struggled early last year," he said. Scott came from 19th on the field for the runner-up spot. He was 5th at the halfway mark, then raced past Fred LaGoy, Jamie Fisher and Lowrey on successive laps and headed after Laperle, but never got there. Other heat winners were Cooper MacRitchie, Lowrey and Buzzie Bezanson.
Thirty-nine cars were on hand attempting to qualify for 26 starting positions. The ACT Dodge Tour's second event in its 16-race schedule, the Merchants Bank Freedom Lynx 150 is at Thunder Road in Barre, VT, Sunday, May 5.
Laperle will lead the ACT Late Models into Airborne Raceway in Plattsburgh, NY Sunday, April 28 for the Remington "4-10" Shootout. Newly qualified for the 2003 Remington Shootout with his weekend victory, Laperle needs to win the "last chance" feature at the Airborne opener to join Scott and 20 other drivers in the $5000-to-win Invitational.
New England Dodge Dealers 100
1) Patrick Laperle, St Denis, Que (7)
2) Phil Scott, Montpelier, VT (19)
3) Rich Lowrey, Charlotte, VT (2)
4) Todd Stone, Middlebury, VT (16)
5) Brent Dragon, Milton, VT (14)
6) Ryan Moore, Scarborough, ME (23)
7) Buzzie Bezanson, Plaistow, NH (21)
8) Mike Bruno, Castleton,VT (20)
9)Ken Dufour, Bethlehem, NH (4)
10)Cris Michaud, Northfield, VT (13)
11)Jamie Fisher, Shelburne, VT (5)
12)Eric Williams, Hyde Park, VT (11)
13)Mark Lamberton, Mooers Forks, NY (10)
14)Cooper MacRitchie, Williamstown, VT (15)
15)Steve Miller, New Haven, VT (12)
16)Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier, VT (22)
17)Dave Pembroke, Montpelier, VT (26)
18)Tracie Bellerose, Gorham, NH (17)
19)Fred LaGoy, Morrisonville, NY (9)
20)Chad Wheeler, Waterbury, VT (8)
21)Dave Whitcomb, Essex Jct, VT(6)
22)Dave Wilcox, Enosburg, VT (1)
23)John Donahue, Graniteville, VT (24)
24)Pete Fecteau, Morrisville, VT (18)
25)Jacob McGrath, Mendon, VT (3)
26)Dwayne Lanphear, Morrisville, VT