The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) returns to Barre, Vt.’s Thunder Road Speedbowl this Sunday, April 30 for the 19th Merchants Bank 150. The event kicks off the 58th season of competition on the quarter-mile oval and is the first of two visits this year for the ACT Late Model Tour.
A pair of multi-time Merchants Bank 150 winners will lead the charge into this year’s event. Three-time and defending event champion Nick Sweet of Barre will look to go back-to-back, while two-time event champion Scott Payea of Colchester is attempting to match Sweet in the record books.
Payea will also be trying to use the second event of the ACT season as a springboard to his first championship after his RPM Racing team finished second to Sweet in last year’s standings. It was the fourth time in Payea’s career that he has finished runner-up in the final ACT tally.
“Thunder Road is our home track, and it’s always a great turnout for both cars and fans,” Payea said. “Merchants Bank has been a great sponsor for a long time. We’ve won the event a couple of times, and we’ve always run up front there – it’s been a really good race for us. It’s a 10-race Tour schedule, so every race is very important, and we want to start the season out doing as well as possible and not be behind the eight-ball.”
A number of other ACT regulars will look to triumph in the Tour’s 68th official visit to Thunder Road. Waterford, Conn.’s Dillon Moltz is coming off a dominating victory in the ACT season opener at Lee USA Speedway, while multi-time Tour winner Bobby Therrien of Hinesburg is looking for his first triumph in Barre. Williamstown’s Jimmy Hebert and Barre Town’s Mike Ziter are also looking for strong showings on their home track. Top-10 point finishers Rich Dubeau and Rowland Robinson, Jr. have returned to the Tour, while two-time Devil’s Bowl Speedway Late Model Champion Josh Masterson has also filed a full-season entry.
Many Thunder Road standouts will be in attendance as well and hope to use their local knowledge to find Victory Lane. Defending “King of the Road” Scott Dragon and multi-time Late Model winner Jason Corliss will be chasing the 2017 ACT crown, giving them extra motivation to go for the win. Former weekly winners Trampas Demers, Cody Blake, Shawn Fleury, and Tyler Cahoon all attended the season’s opening practice session in search of an additional edge come race day.
“The locals are really good there,” Payea added. “Thunder Road’s a tough track, and they have the advantage of running there all the time. I’m pretty fortunate to have spent a lot of time there and gotten a lot of laps there.”
The 2017 Thunder Road season gets underway Sunday, April 30 with the 19th Merchants Bank 150 for the ACT Late Model Tour. The Flying Tigers and Allen Lumber Street Stocks will also be in action with a 1:00pm post time. Admission is $25 for adults and free for kids 12 and under. Saturday, April 29 will see the annual Downtown Barre Car Show for all divisions from 9:00am-12:00pm, followed by a parade up Quarry Hill and an open practice session.