GEORGIA, Vt. – Brian Hoar of Williston, Vt., will try and go 2-for-2 to open the ACT Late Model Tour season when the series competes in the Merchants Bank 150 at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vt., on Sunday, April 29. Hoar, who won his 34th career ACT race in the season opener at Lee USA Speedway two weeks ago, finished fifth in this event last season. Though Hoar has had mixed results at Thunder Road recently – winning the season-ending Milk Bowl last September, but posting his worst finish of 2011 in the Labor Day Classic 200 at the track – RPM Motorsports has dominated the last two Late Model events there. Local driver Nick Sweet won the Labor Day Classic for car owner Rick Paya in September, while Hoar capped his championship year with his second career Milk Bowl.
WHO: Brian Hoar, Williston, Vt.
TEAM: RPM Motorsports No. 37 GossCars.com Dodge
CREW CHIEF: Rick Paya, Georgia, Vt.
BEST CAREER THUNDER ROAD FINISH: 1st (most recently, September 2011)
LAST RACE AT THUNDER ROAD: 1st (September 2011)
WHERE: Thunder Road International Speedbowl, Barre, Vt. (.25-mile banked oval)
WHEN: Practice, 1 p.m., Saturday, April 28; Qualifying, 1 p.m., Sunday, April 29; Race, 4 p.m., Sunday April 29
ACT LATE MODEL TOUR
LAST RACE: Sunday, April 15, NH Governor's Cup 150, Lee USA Speedway, Lee, N.H. (1st)
NEXT RACE: Sunday, May 6, Spring Green 112, Devil's Bowl Speedway, West Haven, Vt. (.500-mile oval)
POINTS POSITION: 1st
DID YOU KNOW?
- Brian Hoar won six races races in 2011 en route to the ACT Late Model Tour title.
- Brian Hoar has led the ACT Late Model Tour standings since midway through the 2010 season.
- Rick Paya plans to spend Thursday nights at Thunder Road this season in weekly competition, serving as crew chief for the No. 85 Late Model of Trampas Demers.
- Brian Hoar has more race wins (34) than any driver in ACT history, while he and car owner Rick Paya each have a record eight career ACT championships.
- Brian Hoar spent the past winter training to run in the Vermont City Marathon over Memorial Day Weekend.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
BRIAN HOAR, Driver of the RPM Motorsports No. 37 GossCars.com Dodge, On his confidence level in returning to Thunder Road this weekend: “It's such a tough little bullring. We have struggled there. It actually helped a lot when I had Nick (Sweet) as a teammate for the Labor Day race. Going into last year, I considered Thunder Road one of our weak spots. We were still pulling off Top-5s ,but we weren't contending for wins.
“We were always fast, but I thought we lacked a little bit in our approach to the long-distance part of it – the 150-lap, 200-lap races. We have a new approach now that came from working with Nick, and we made it work for us in the Milk Bowl with the 75-alp segments. I think that was key.
“I'm sure when we unload for practice (on Saturday), we'll be right on the money. I think we've got something for them this year. My confidence isn't lacking at all.”
On whether he feels like the competition has caught up to him in 2012: “The first year Rick and I were together (in 2009), we went into it with a real open mind. I put my faith in Rick, Rick put his in me, and we came out with a championship. Second year, we went into it and we were confident we could do it again, but we knew some of the guys would be tougher. It was the same thing last year.
“It takes so much to go right to win a championship. It doesn't take much to take you out of it. I think the competition is still getting tougher every year. They're getting experience. Joey Pole is a guy, look at him – he's ready to bust out. But it's up to the teams and crews to use that experience and get the results. Same with Austin (Theriault). With experience comes wisdom. Same thing with Wayne (Helliwell). Last year, he learned a lot. The guys that have some experience, they either learn from that and stay out of trouble and are right there all year, or they don't.”
On the key to success at Thunder Road: “When you go to Thunder Road, you've got to contend with all the weekly guys. They're just so strong there – Nick Sweet, Dave Pembroke, Phil Scott, Cris Michaud. There's a long list. It just doubles the list of 'to contend with' guys. It's going to be a battle.
“I think it's like anything. To win the championship and finish up front, you've got to run good and be good basically everywhere. All the top teams do. I think we all have our favorite places. Look at Joey Pole, Wayne and Austin. They'll probably struggle more (at Thunder Road) than the Nick Sweets or the guys on the Tour that did run there in the past on a weekly basis.
“We've just been in more situations on that tough little bullring than some of the other guys because we've run so many laps there.”
The ACT Late Model Tour returns to Devil's Bowl Speedway in West Haven, Vt., for the Spring Green 112 on Sunday, May 6... Brian Hoar won the event a year ago, leading the final 37 laps in his first-ever visit to the track after the Spring Green moved from its previous incarnation as a fixture on the Airborne Speedway schedule.
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