BARRE, Vt. – Brian Hoar of Williston, Vt., held off a furious challenge from Wayne Helliwell Jr. for the second race in a row, leading the final 22 laps to win the Merchants Bank 150 at Thunder Road International Speedbowl on Sunday afternoon.
It was the first career Merchants Bank 150 win for the driver of the RPM Motorsports No. 37 GossCars.com Dodge, and it was his second straight win to open the 2012 ACT Late Model Tour season. Hoar now has an ACT-record 35 career victories and holds the early points lead as he searches for a ninth ACT championship.
“I've been chasing this one a long time,” said Hoar, who won the 2011 Milk Bowl at Thunder Road. “It's the first time for us (in the Merchants Bank 150), and it's a big deal. Anytime you can win at Thunder Road, it's awesome.”
A yellow flag for a multi-car accident came out on Lap 70, giving RPM owner and crew chief Rick Paya the chance to call Hoar pit-side for fresh right side tires. Hoar restarted outside the Top-15, but as other leaders eventually headed to pit road in the second half of the race, he gained back the crucial track position he needed.
Shortly after a Lap 121 restart, Hoar moved to the point – emerging from a three-wide battle for second-place to reel in race leader Nick Sweet.
From there, Hoar kept Helliwell at bay. It was almost a carbon copy of the season's first race, when he likewise kept Helliwell behind him to score the victory.
“He's awesome to race with,” Hoar said of Helliwell. “He's a good, clean driver. He got into me a couple of times, but he didn't spin me. I like racing with him.”
The RPM Motorsports team joins the ACT Late Model Tour again next weekend for the Spring Green 112 at Devil's Bowl Speedway in West Haven, Vt. Hoar won the the Spring Green in 2011.
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