American Canadian Tour Dubeau, Hebert Both Looking for Upper Hand in ACT Title Battle

Discussion in 'National Series' started by Race Results, Sep 2, 2019.

  1. Race Results

    Race Results Administrator Staff Member

    The American-Canadian Tour enters the next-to-last round of its 10-round title bout this Sunday, September 1 with the 41st Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic at Barre, VT’s Thunder Road. With two point-counting races remaining on the schedule, it looks increasingly likely ACT will have a first-time champion in 2019. Sunday’s race will play a huge role in deciding who that champion will be.


    In one corner sits Plainfield, NH’s Rich Dubeau. The 30-year-old rom New Hampshire’s Upper Valley joined the ACT Late Model Tour full-time in 2015 as the classic underdog. To this day, Dubeau has one of the Tour’s smallest budgets, traveling to each event with a small-but-dedicated crew.


    But in 2019, Dubeau has completed a five-year transformation from bantamweight to heavyweight. He earned his first ACT victory on June 1 at Quebec’s Autodrome Chaudiere and has finished no worse than seventh in the eight events this year. This remarkable string of excellence has him atop the standings with a 26-point lead.


    “Coming into this season, I had two goals – and I thought they were pretty hard-to-reach goals,” Dubeau said. “One was to continue improving in points, which we had done every year since we’d been on the Tour. Last year we finished fourth, so this year I was hoping for a top-three in points, which I thought would be challenging in and of itself. The second goal was that I wanted to get a win. So we’ve already pretty much met my goals from the beginning of the season. I honestly didn’t picture being anywhere near this position – not five years ago or even coming into this season. I’ve been over-the-top happy with how things have gone so far.”


    In the opposite corner sits Williamstown, VT’s Jimmy Hebert. While he is younger than Dubeau, the 28-year-old Hebert has been with ACT since 2012. He and his Hebert Excavation team have proven themselves as one of the Late Model powerhouses of the Northeast with five ACT wins at five different tracks. He most recently stood in Victory Lane this past June 29 at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway.


    However, while Hebert has come close to a championship several times, the top spot at season’s end has eluded him. Hebert finished second in points in 2014 and has come in third two other times, including last year. This season, he is in the hunt again, running second to Dubeau entering Sunday’s event.


    “It seems like at almost every race, we’ve had something of some sort happen,” Hebert remarked. “To still be in contention after all the bad draws, flat tires, starting in the back, bad restarts, and everything else that’s happened this year has been pretty good. We’ve had extremely fast cars at every race we’ve gone to – it just seems like circumstances have taken us out of some chances to win. I think if we can have a clean race this weekend, we can gain a lot of points.”


    This weekend’s round of the championship battle takes Dubeau and Hebert to Thunder Road — one of the toughest tracks on the Tour. It’s a track where the experience and success levels of the two drivers varies greatly. Add in the wild card of a strong local Late Model class, and it’s truly impossible to predict what could happen.


    Thunder Road is truly Hebert’s home track. He started racing in go-karts there, then won a Flying Tiger championship and a Late Model Rookie of the Year Award before making the jump to the ACT Tour. His ACT results at the track have largely backed up his reputation as a “hometown guy” with two runner-up finishes and five other top-10s. However, Hebert is still looking for his first Late Model win at Thunder Road, and he knows Sunday would be the perfect time to get it.


    “This is probably the best chance we’ve had,” Hebert said. “We tried some stuff at the Governor’s Cup – some if worked, some of it didn’t. So we decided that, even though we haven’t been running there it all year, we’re going to bring the new car to Thunder Road. With the points being as tight as they are and the season getting down to the wire, we need to bring our best piece to every race.”


    “At most tracks, (the local experience) doesn’t really seem to matter, but Thunder Road is such a unique track and takes such a unique setup that it seems to give the locals a real upper hand,” Hebert added. “We’ve tried to run there as much as we can the last couple years to help out our program there, because we want to win there in the worst way.”


    Dubeau, on the other hand, has only recently started to realize his potential at the Barre high banks. His fifth-place finish at the Community Bank N.A. 150 in May was just Dubeau’s second top-10 finish in seven ACT visits to the track. Still, the Labor Day Classic is more of a wild-card for Dubeau, and he knows he’ll need a good showing to stay in position for the title.


    “The approach remains the same as pretty much every track we go to – look at our notes and try to improve any way we can,” Dubeau said. “The last time we were at Thunder Road was the first time we ran really well there. I think a lot of that has to do with stiff competition from the locals – they’re really good. I expect it to be a tough race. I hate to sound this way, but honestly, I’d be okay with a top-10, just because the competition is so stiff.”


    Both racers will also have to battle the best of ACT and Thunder as they hungrily pursue the title. Two-time defending ACT Champion Scott Payea of Colchester, VT maintains the proverbial puncher’s chance with a 59-point gap behind Dubeau. E. Bridgewater, MA’s Ryan Kuhn, Milton, VT’s Dylan Payea, Graniteville, VT’s Christopher Pelkey, and Blainville, QC’s Jonathan Bouvrette are among the other ACT full-timers aiming for a strong run.


    Locals such as Jason Corliss, Scott Dragon, Cody Blake, and Marcel J. Gravel will likely be in attendance as well to defend their home field. They’ll be trying to add their name to a granite monument that includes Northeast racing legends such as Larry Demar, Jean-Paul Cabana, Bobby Dragon, Brian Hoar, and Dave Dion.


    Qualifying for the 41st Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic 200 at Thunder Road begins at 1:30pm this Sunday, September 1. The ACT Late Model Tour is joined by a 50-lap feature for the track’s Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers and the first annual Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warrior Challenge. The pits open at 8:30am and the front gates open at 10:30am. Admission is $25 for adults and free for kids ages 12 and under.




    Those who can’t make it to Vermont on Sunday can watch the Labor Day Classic on Speed51 TV as part of their Summer Thunder package. A monthly or yearly subscription is required and a 100-mile blackout is in effect. Visit www.speed51.com for more information.


    For more information, contact the ACT offices at (802) 244-6963, media@acttour.com, or visit www.acttour.com orwww.thunderroadvt.com.

    Michael R. Stridsberg
    American-Canadian Tour
    Media Director
    (802) 244-6963 ext. 6
    media@acttour.com
     

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