People were surprised when Scott Payea failed to qualify for the Community Bank 150 at Thunder Road two weeks ago, and rightfully so. The two-time defending American-Canadian Tour champion became the first reigning ACT king to not make the cut in 17 years.
What’s silly is that people were surprised when he bounced right back last Saturday to not only qualify but win the Spring Green at White Mountain Motorsports Park.
Even as a two-time champion and 16-time winner, Payea is still often overlooked as a contender. The reality is that even as a low-key personality, the Milton native is one of the best drivers that ACT has ever seen. He finished third in his first start in a Late Model car — at the tricky Lee USA Speedway, no less — in 2005, and, apart from a two-year hiatus in 2014-15, he hasn’t slowed down yet.
On top of that, he’s in the seat of one of the best cars that ACT has ever seen. RPM Motorsports owner Rick Paya (different spelling than Payea, no relation) has won 10 championships as an ACT car owner or crew chief and has been involved with countless other winning teams as a mechanic, engine builder, or a mix of all four roles.
The DNQ at Thunder Road was an outlier. The win at White Mountain was certainly not.
Bucko Branham is a good racer, but he’s also a good guy. The proof was evident on Saturday night at the newly renamed Plattsburgh Airborne Speedway in New York.
Former DIRTcar Sportsman Modified track champion Connor Cleveland smacked the wall in his heat race and was out of commission for the night, or so it seemed. Branham was already in the show, but he offered Cleveland his ride for the last-chance qualifier and told young Cleveland that if he made the race, he’d give up his car for the feature as well.
The kid made the cut, and “Professor” Branham — the all-time leading feature winner at Airborne — sat on the sidelines for the main event. Cleveland rewarded his temporary car owner by driving from 26th at the start to a 10th-place finish without a scratch.
Bear Ridge Speedway – Bradford
LAST WEEK: Plainfield’s Will Hull won the Sprint Cars of New England race on Saturday night, and hometown driver Jordan Fornwalt won the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified feature. Barre drivers Chris LaForest and John Neddo topped the Sportsman Coupes and Limited Late Models, respectively, and East Corinth’s Buddy Welch beat the Four Cylinders. Kyle Belliveau and Bradford’s Tom Chaffee split the Granite State Mini Sprint wins. THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 6 p.m. with the four weekly divisions and the USAC Dirt Midget Association.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway – West Haven
THIS WEEK: The racing season opens on Sunday at 5 p.m. with five divisions and spectator races.
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl – Barre
THIS WEEK: Thunder Road is off until the Memorial Day Classic on Sunday, May 26.
Albany-Saratoga Speedway – Malta, N.Y.
LAST WEEK: Australian Peter Britten won Friday’s DIRTcar Modified feature and Connor Cleveland won the Sportsman Modified race. Tuesday’s make-up of a prior rainout was rained out again. THIS WEEK: Racing is Friday at 7 p.m.
Claremont Speedway – Claremont, N.H.
LAST WEEK: Friday’s races were rained out. THIS WEEK: Racing is Friday at 7 p.m.
Fonda Speedway – Fonda, N.Y.
LAST WEEK: Rocky Warner was Saturday’s Modified winner and Tim Hartman Jr. won the Sportsman Modified feature. THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 7 p.m. with $1 admission.
Lebanon Valley Speedway – West Lebanon, N.Y.
LAST WEEK: Keith Flach won Saturday’s Big Block Modified feature and Andy Bachetti made it 3-for-3 in the Small Blocks. THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 5 p.m.
Monadnock Speedway – Winchester, N.H.
SEASON OPENER: Saturday, May 25
Plattsburgh Airborne Speedway – Plattsburgh, N.Y.
LAST WEEK: Lance Willix won Saturday’s DIRTcar 358 Modified feature and Lonnie Rivers topped the Sportsman Modifieds. THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 6 p.m.
RumTown Speedway – Rumney, N.H.
LAST WEEK: Saturday’s results were not available. THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 4 p.m.
Speedway 51 – Groveton, N.H.
THIS WEEK: The season opens on Sunday at 1 p.m. with the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models, PASS Modifieds, NELCAR Legends, Tiger Sportsmen, and Street Stocks.
White Mountain Motorsports Park – North Woodstock, N.H.