The American Canadian Tour Late Models are set to enter their 23rd season of competition with their season opener at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, NH this Sunday, April 13. This will be the seventh time the 3/8ths-mile speedway has hosted the season opener. Norm Andrews won the first ever ACT Late Model event at Sanair Super Speedway in 1992 and the first event of the season has seen a variety of tracks and winners ever since.
Over the past 22 seasons, the ACT Late Model season opener has been hosted by seven different tracks and seen 16 different winners. Only four drivers have won more than one season opener, led by ACT Champions Brian Hoar (1997, 2011, 2012) and Jean-Paul Cyr (1996, 2004, 2006). Dennis Demers (1993, 1994) and Cris Michaud (2001, 2005) are the only other drivers with multiple season opener wins.
Last year's season opening winner Jimmy Hebert joined Andrews (1992), Demers (1993), Chris Fisher (1998), Tracie Bellerose (2000), Michaud (2001), Randy Potter (2007) and Nick Sweet (2010) as the only eight drivers to earn their first career ACT wins during a season opening event.
While the first event of the year is important to each competitor's title hopes, only five times has the winner of the first race gone on to claim the championship in the same season. Cyr has done it in three of his championship seasons (1996, 2004, 2006), while Hoar did it in two of his title years (1997, 2011). In 12 seasons, the eventual champion claimed a top five in the season opener and 17 times the title winner has finished in the top ten.
That means only five times has a champion started off his season with a finish outside of the top ten. Cyr climbed back from a 35th place effort to start off his 1994 championship season to become the only champion with a finish outside the top 25 in the season opener.
The 2014 ACT season gets under way with the New Hampshire Governor's Cup 150 at Lee USA Speedway this Sunday, April 13. Post time is 1:15pm.