Stearns Claims ACT Labor Day Classic
BARRE, Vt. – Travis Stearns scored his first career American Canadian Tour victory in one of the biggest races on the 2013 schedule on Sunday.
The rookie held off eight-time ACT Champion Brian Hoar to claim the win in the 35th Annual VT Foodbank Labor Day Classic 200 at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl.
Two-time Thunder Road Champion Dave Pembroke led the entire first half of the 200 lap event, building a large lead through lap traffic before the second caution flag of the event flew on lap 116. Every lead lap car took advantage of the caution period to visit pit road for fresh right side tires.
Hoar and Stearns were the first two cars back onto the race track claiming the first and second positions but starting fourth and fifth respectively on the ensuing restart. Pembroke stalled on the exit of pit road and could not get the car refired sending him to the tail of the field.
Stearns gained the advantage on the restart, getting around Hoar through the lapped traffic to take a lead he would never relinquish. Hoar slid back as far as fourth before mounting a comeback with 60 laps to go. He moved his way back into second with just under 50 laps to go and set his sights on Stearns. While Hoar got to his rear bumper with 15 laps remaining, Stearns protected the outside lane. Hoar couldn’t find the bite on the inside and came up a half car length short coming to the line as the two fishtailed to the finish.
Current ACT point leader Wayne Helliwell Jr. came from 17th to take third, Pembroke recovered to take fourth and two-time Thunder Road Champion Nick Sweet completed the top five. Current ACT runner-up Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Brooks Clark, Cody Blake, 2013 King of the Road Derrick O’Donnell and Jimmy Hebert earned top ten finishes.
The 200 lap event was completed in just one hour and eight minutes with three total cautions. Thirty of the 34 cars in attendance qualified for the main event.
Stearns becomes the 14th qualifier for the 5th Annual Bond Auto ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 21.
“Double-O” Joe Steffen picked up his first Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen win of the season as he got around Randy Gonyaw on the final restart of the event. It was his 10th career Tiger victory. The duo was chased to the line by Mike Martin, Shawn Fleury and Brendan Moodie completing the top five.
Donnie Yates picked up the win in the Allen Lumber Street Stocks as he came from dead last on the 23 car field. He bested Gary Mullen, Tim Campbell, Kevin Dodge and Jennifer Getty.