BUMP STOPS: Going Now, Going Road Course and Going Racing

Friday, June 24, 2011
Photo: ACT Late Model Tour

It's the end of the week again. Time to dust off that ol' Mini Stock in the garage for a test spin around the cul-de-sac at the end of the street...

ONE THING THAT has become apparent on the ACT Late Model Tour in recent seasons is that the best racing doesn't always take place over the final 20 laps of an event. In fact, as John Donahue proved again last Saturday night at White Mountain Motorsports Park, sometimes the race for the win happens even before the halfway mark.

Donahue locked himself into a fierce battle with the likes of Quinny Welch, Brian Hoar and Wayne Helliwell Jr. early on at White Mountain – surviving a rash of restarts and side-by-side racing on the high banks – to pull away to the victory over the second half of the event. Donahue himself admitted that he was a little worried about having used his stuff up too soon before making it clear that his car's handling never dropped off the way he feared.


At Oxford Plains Speedway a couple of weeks before that, the race for the win was won by Jeff White – after both Hoar and Joey Polewarczyk Jr. had worked to sort things out behind him early in the going. White won in large part because nobody had anything left to mount a challenge.

It's a product of the rules package – of the tires, the shocks and the crate engines – that likely makes for this kind of phenomenon. While NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars are busy in cruise control for 300 miles at a time, ACT teams don't have that benefit.

It makes for some interesting racing, to be certain.

Drivers talk about capitalizing on opportunities, about being able to run up front with the Top-5 cars and waiting for things to pan out in terms of eventually making a trip to Victory Lane.

But with these ACT drivers, winning really becomes as much about making a decision to race for position as it does about knowing when that time comes.

Donahue did that better than anybody last weekend, and the results were clear.

ONE OF THE terms in racing that bugs me to no end is "lapper." It just sounds gross.

To wit: "There's a hundred-lapper at Thunder Road tomorrow," or "Are you going to that 50-lapper at Oxford Plains?"

Can't we all just agree to call it a "100-lap race?" Please?

I LOVE HOW Marcos Ambrose has become the new "it" guy on the road courses.

It used to be Robby Gordon. There was a spell of nearly a decade when every time NASCAR hit the road courses, it was Robby Gordon who was the trendy "this is the guy to beat this weekend" pick from the media.

This, of course, despite the fact that Gordon has only won two road course races – in the same season – and then disappeared, really, from contention after that.

Now, it's Ambrose who is "the guy."

It's amazing to me that nobody has yet figured out that guys like Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart have 16 career road course wins between them. Jimmie Johnson won at Infineon Raceway last season.

Sure, a guy like Ambrose has some road course ability – but the days of ringers like Ron Fellows, Boris Said, et al, coming in and threatening to win are long gone. Ambrose's chances this weekend aren't any different than they are anywhere else.

It just becomes an easy way to work another name into a preview story, not a serious analysis of what we expect to see on Sunday.

JUST IN CASE you missed it, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Monadnock 200 at Monadnock Speedway has been postponed to Sunday thanks to Mother Nature's prickly forecast for tomorrow.

SHORT WEEK FOR me this week, but a long weekend of racing ahead.

You know, weather permitting and all that.

YOU'VE BEEN A great audience. Try the steak and roasted red pepper fajitas, and don't forget to tip your waitress. Taio Cruz is here, so stick around.

-- TB