A picturesque day provided the perfect setting for American-Canadian Tour teams as they turned practice laps at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Wednesday.
More than 25 teams from five New England states and two Canadian provinces spent most of the morning and afternoon gathering as much information as possible for the Bond Auto ACT Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 22 at “The Magic Mile.”
The Bond Auto ACT Invitational will be the third of four races on a jam-packed Sept. 22 slate. It will be preceded by the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East G-Oil 100, and followed by the U.S. Legends Car International Series race. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series SYLVANIA 300, the second race the in Chase for the championship, will run the following day on Sunday, Sept. 23 at 2:00 p.m.
Among the ACT drivers in the field on Wednesday were two-time Invitational champion Eddie MacDonald of Rowley Mass., 2010 Invitational champion Joey Polewarczyk Jr., of Hudson, N.H., and current points leader Wayne Helliwell Jr., of Dover, N.H.
“The season has been going unbelievable,” said Helliwell, who has three wins and seven top 10s in eight starts this season. “I couldn’t ask for more, the icing on the cake would be to come here and run really, really strong – and I think we have the car to do that.”
“These cars are wider, lighter and have less power (than the K&N Series),” added MacDonald, who will also run in the K&N G-Oil 100 on Sept. 22. “But you can run these (ACT) cars three- and four-wide and that makes it a lot of fun come race day. It’s probably one of the best races here all weekend.”
The fastest lap times of the test session were laid down by Dan McHattie (31.730 seconds, 120.037 mph) of Peterborough, Ontario, Jean-Paul Cyr (31.805) of Milton, Vt., and Polewarczyk (31.806).
“The car has been handling well and has done everything we want it to do,” said Polewarczyk, who currently sits fourth in points. “This is really the only opportunity to work on these cars because when it comes to Cup weekend it gets really busy and we have only a small practice session. We got to get everything where we need to be.”
The 350 horsepower late-models were running at a top speed of between 150-160 mph down the front and back stretch, nearly 100 mph faster than what the cars normally run at short tracks like Lee USA Speedway, Thunder Road and Oxford Plains.
“We’ll pass Cup cars in the corners, which is a great thrill for these guys. When we were testing with Goodyear one year we did that with Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick,” said ACT president Tom Curley. “But as soon as they start turning the corners that’s the end of the dance.
“This is a lot of fun. The veterans love it because they’ve been here, but for the younger kids it’s a thrill of a lifetime to come here and race where the big boys do.”
One of those youngsters was 15-year-old Emily Packard of East Montpelier, Vt.
“It’s very different from what I’ve been racing this year. It’s a lot bigger, a lot faster,” said Packard, whose lap times were in the top half of the field on Wednesday. “I’m having a lot of fun at it and I’m really enjoying myself.”
A field of over 60 teams from nine different states and provinces is anticipated for the Bond Auto ACT Invitational on Sept. 22 at “The Magic Mile.”
Tickets for the action-packed SYLVANIA 300 NASCAR weekend can be purchased by stopping by our Ticket Office, visiting the speedway website at www.nhms.com, or calling our Ticket Hotline at (603) 783-4931.