LEE, N.H. — In one of the most dramatic and exciting events so far in the young racing season, the American-Canadian Tour put on a barn-burning performance at New Hampshire’s Center of Speed, Lee USA Speedway on Sunday.
With the return of the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150 at the three-eighths-mile oval came an interesting group of touring regulars, old friends and young greenhorns. All of them fought each other and the worn-out track itself in an attempt to grasp ACT glory and join a wins list thirty-seven years in the making.
Twenty-four competitors would enter the expansive Lee USA Speedway pit area Sunday morning, many of them facing their third event in just fifteen short days in an extreme stretch of May.
After a late driver change, Brandon Barker took the wheel of the Sullivan Construction No. 0NH car to the pole position with current top ACT rookie Andrew Molleur to his outside.
From the drop of the green, it was game on and the rough and rowdy surface of Lee USA Speedway showcased some of the best racing of the season so far. While Barker took off with the lead, he had the likes of Dillon Moltz, Gabe Brown and Joey Polewarczyk all over his rear bumper.
A race-defining caution flag flew on lap 37 as Moltz, aiming to take over the second spot, spun coming out of turn two to end a strong run at the front of the pack.
After Brown took over the lead just after lap 25, Barker and a hard-charging Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. kept him in their sights. Renfrew had taken an early smack to the frontstretch wall while gathering up a sliding exit from turn four on lap five, but it seemed to make his R&R Race Parts Ford Fusion all the better.
Just after the 50-lap mark, Renfrew had taken over the reins from Brown and held on until the lap 95 caution for a spinning Tanner Woodard.
What would ensue would be a race for the ages between Renfrew and Barker as the two traded lanes, paint and position at the head of the pack with Barker taking the lead once again.
Everything would shift on lap 136 as lap traffic brought Renfrew and Barker back side-by-side with the two trading the lead over and over again until Renfrew got a little too greedy in Turn Three on lap 145 and went spinning when his rear end came out from under him to end an insanely strong and entertaining run.
With five laps to go, Barker battled Brown with Barker able to hold off the Center Conway, New Hampshire-native to earn his first American-Canadian Tour victory in just his first, and only, start on the tour.
As such, Barker, for the time being, joins an elite list of ACT winners in their only start which includes Dale Earnhardt’s one and done at Cayuga Motor Speedway in Ontario in 1983 and longtime NASCAR Pinty’s Canadian Series standout D.J. Kennington at Lee as well back in 2004.
Brown hung on for second following complications from some rear end suspension problems and Jason Corliss, who played the smooth and steady card to sneak in a podium third-place finish.