Lee, NH – After a two week delay due to some late season winter weather, Lee USA Speedway is readying to open the 2017 campaign next weekend, with the annual running of the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150 American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model event now scheduled to go green on Sunday, April 23.
The traditional season-opener will also feature the North East Mini Stock Tour and the wildly-popular scaled down, motorcycle engine powered hotrods better known as the Northeast Classic Lites. Both divisions are expected to see strong fields of entries in action at “New Hampshire‘s Center of Speed“.
Scott Payea, last year’s winner of the Governor’s Cup is expected to return to defend his title in the RPM Motorsports entry, and he will be joined by a host of drivers from throughout the New England region, as well as several Canadian teams which are slated to make the long haul south to compete at Lee USA.
There have been 13 winners in the 14 events the ACT Late Models have contested on the quick 3/8th’s mile oval at Lee, among them Jimmy Hebert of Williamstown, VT, the 2013 Governor’s Cup winner and another potential victor whose name is already on this year’s entry list.
In addition to former winners Hebert and Payea, Vermont will be represented by a member of one of the most legendary families in New England racing history, as Scott Dragon will be among those attempting to take the Governor’s Cup title home to the Green Mountain State.
Other drivers who have filed full-season entries for the 2017 ACT title hunt include some familiar names to Lee fans, led by longtime crowd favorite Miles Chipman, who scored an upset win in the Governor’s Cup back in 2010, taking home the victory when the race was run on a Friday night in June.
Other Granite Staters expected to compete include Matt Anderson, who has a solid resume that includes multiple Oktoberfest wins here at Lee USA, Kyle Welch, and Rich Dubeau, all of whom have filed for the full 2017 ACT campaign.
Connecticut drivers Dillon Moltz and Ray Christian III, Massachusetts chauffeurs Mark Hudson and Jimmy Linardy, and New Yorker Josh Masterson just add to the geographic diversity in the field. Factor in the Canadian entries, and it’s easy to see that the 2017 New Hampshire Governor’s Cup trophy could end up just about anywhere.
40-year racing veteran Claude LeClerc has hauled down from Quebec to race at Lee several times during his storied career, and he is just one of the winning drivers planning to run the 2017 opener. LeClerc was racing before many drivers in the field were born, and his experience clearly qualifies him as a potential contender.
Serie ACT 2014 champion Alex Labbe will be attempting his sixth straight Governor’s Cup start, while 2015 champ Dany Trepanier will be trying to qualify for his first. Donald Theetge is another of the Quebec contingent with plenty of Lee laps under his belt, though that’s not the case for Jonathan Bouvrette or freshman competitor Mathieu Kingsbury.
No matter who gets to the checkered flag first, the Governor’s Cup 150 has always been one of the most competitive races of the season, and this year should be no exception.
In addition to the ACT Late Models, the Northeast Mini Stock Tour will be competing in the first race of their 2017 points chase, with the title of defending race winner going to Zach Audet of Skowhegan, ME.
Lee USA Speedway 2009 Roadrunner and 2014 Late Model Sportsman champion Niko Maniatis of Hooksett finished second last year, with 2012 Lee USA Ironman champ Jake Rheaume of Rochester scoring a solid fifth-place finish. Both drivers’ Lee USA experience puts them among the favorites to take home the win.
The Northeast Classic Lites will round out the program on opening day, the first of six appearances for the 5/8th’s scale racers at Lee USA Speedway this season. Defending series champion and Oktoberfest race winner Duane Skofield should be among the drivers to beat in that one.
Lee USA will be swinging the gates open for a test and tune session on Saturday, April 22, open to teams from any track and/or division in advance of the season opener the next day.
The test and tune session will be followed by a full card of racing action on Sunday April 23, as New Hampshire’s Center of Speed opens up the northern New England racing season with the annual Governor’s Cup 150 for ACT Late Models along with the North East Mini Stock Tour and Northeast Classic Lites season openers.
For more information on this or any other upcoming event at Lee USA, log on to our website atwww.leeusaspeedway.com, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.
Sources: Judy MacDonald/Lee USA Speedway PR