WATERBURY — The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) begins the back half of its season this Saturday, when it heads to Groveton, N.H.’s Riverside Speedway.
The Gardiner & June Leavitt Memorial 150 is race number five on the current nine-event schedule, meaning it is time to start thinking about the championship for several drivers.
Following last Saturday’s Midsummer Classic 250 at White Mountain Motorsports Park, Williamstown’s Jimmy Hebert is back on top of the standings.
The veteran has three podium finishes in four events to give him a 15-point edge over Center Conway, N.H.’s D.J. Shaw and 31 points on E. Bridgewater, Mass.’s Ryan Kuhn. Hebert is also the only full-time ACT competitor to snare a win this season.
For Hebert, a championship would be the pinnacle of a decade-long Late Model journey. Since jumping into a Thunder Road Late Model in 2011 and then joining the ACT Late Model Tour in 2012, the second-generation racer has finished second or third in points on four different occasions, making him the bridesmaid of the decade with ACT.
Multiple times, Hebert has been right in the middle of the title hunt with a couple events to go, only to have an accident or mechanical failure derail his bid. This year, circumstances have fallen in his favor so far, and with the recent arrival of his third child, Hebert knows he only has so many more chances at the title.
Shaw is trying to make Northeast stock car racing history. The three-time and defending Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Model Champion is trying to become the first person to win both a PASS and an ACT title.
Prior to this season, Shaw had not competed regularly in a Late Model since winning the White Mountain Motorsports Park track championship in 2006 as a 16-year-old rookie. However, he has opened the year with four straight top-10s and led laps in multiple events.
As for Kuhn, the 19-year-old continues to shine as he chases a spot at the pinnacle of motorsports. The defending ACT Rookie of the Year was not originally planning to run the full 2020 schedule. But after the pandemic-delayed start and strong runs in the first two events, his family team has decided to go all-in for another season.
Kuhn has been solid so far with three top-10 finishes and an 11th in the fourth event. His first ACT win would go a long way towards making him a serious title contender.
In preparation for the originally-planned July 11 Riverside visit, Kuhn made the trip for a weekly event and finished second.
This trio will be joined by a host of other local and regional stars. Old-school racer Christopher Pelkey and low-budget standout Dylan Payea round out the top-five in points as they chase their first ACT victories.
Rookies Derek Gluchacki and Tom Carey III have both adapted quickly to the touring life, while veteran Bryan Kruczek got a much-needed boost with a top-five finish last weekend.
Thunder Road Late Model point leader Marcel J. Gravel, who won last year’s annual Fall Brawl at Riverside, may be a threat this Saturday as he tries to get his ACT rookie campaign on consistent footing.
Meanwhile, former Riverside Speedway Champion Randy Potter is coming out of retirement to wheel a machine owned by Gary Knudsen. Many of the Riverside locals are expected to defend their home turf against the ACT outsiders.
Post time for the Gardiner & June Leavitt Memorial 150 is 6 p.m. Saturday for a card that also includes the Riverside Formula Fours, Bone Stock 4-Cylinders, Lil’ Rascals Dwarfs, and Dare Devils.