N. WOODSTOCK, N.H. — Through the skirting winds that whistled down through the Pemigewasset Valley on Saturday, a powerful collection of Northeast racing talent gathered at the White Mountain Motorsports Park for one of its most hallowed events.
The 45st annual Fall Foliage 200 for the American-Canadian Tour showcased a no-holds, white-knuckle battlefield lap after lap, and the same could be said for all five divisions as everyone looked for glory with the season winding down.
Zach Nicholson got the jump on Alex Ricker at the start of the PASS Modified 50-lap feature event with Spencer Morse in hot pursuit in the opening laps. After patiently stalking from behind, Morse looked to the outside of Nicholson before a lap 12 caution for Kevin Oliver and Evan Roy on the frontstretch.
The Nicholson and Morse battle continued as Brandon Varney drove up through the field to claim third and the Weston’s Automotive Challenge Series. Varney would slide under Morse to claim second just after the halfway point.
With 15 laps remaining, the top six raced under a blanket as Ryan Hewins, Ryan Ripley and Spencer Vaughn moved into the top-three mix in the front before the final caution on lap 37. After a fierce side-by-side battle at the restart, Brandon Varney would pace the field to the very end while a wild battle behind him saw Zach Nicholson claim second and Spencer Morse jump up to third on the final lap.
Matt Swanson took the fast lane against Dave Duggan under the green flag in the New England Supermodified Series 50-lap trophy dash. Rob Summers immediately nabbed second from his third-place starting spot as Duggan settled in for third.
After Swanson had worked up a half-track lead on Summers, mayhem ensued on lap 42 as NESS point leader Ben Seitz slid backward into the turn four wall with Danny Lane spinning to the infield. Matt Swanson would again make short work under the return to green to take the Supermodified win over Rob Summers and Dave Duggan on Fall Foliage Saturday.
D.J. Shaw and Gabe Brown led the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Model 150 to the initial green flag with Patrick Laperle and Joey Doiron in tow. With Brown ahead early, Shaw was left with a mirror full of Doiron in the opening, pace-setting laps.
The first caution would fly on lap 15 with Andy Shaw spinning off the bumper of Austin Teras in turn two. Brown kept the lead under the restart green as Jimmy Hebert flew to the outside of D.J. Shaw before Laperle’s halted machine in turn four called another caution on lap 20.
Slowly but surely Hebert worked his way closer to Brown’s lead each lap around the White Mountain highbanks with Shaw seeming content to bide his time in third.
Hebert’s strong run would fade with the hissing steam erupting from his overflow with an overheating engine leaving Brown with a half-track lead over Shaw and young-gun Austin Teras. The field re-racked following a lap 64 caution for the inverted J.P. Josiasse in turn two with Brown getting the jump once again.
Although slowed again on lap 90 and 92 to face off with Johnny Clark, Gabe Brown would take down the win to break Johnny Clark’s 2023 win-streak at White Mountain. Clark would take second with Max Cookson in third.
Former Beech Ridge Motor Speedway hot-shoe David Vaughn led the field before outside polesitter Dave Baron got loose on the start and went slamming into the frontstretch wall. John Donahue grabbed alongside Vaughn on the restart but found the outside a bit slippery before powering back with Colin Cornell on his tail.
The five-way battle for third saw a gaggle of competitors vying to join the podium throughout the 35-lap main event.
With just three laps remaining, second-place runner Colin Cornell blew a right front tire in turn four to bring out the late race caution. Donahue went to battle with Jason Woodard at the front before Luke Peters and Frankie Sweeney tangled and hooked together as they slid across the frontstretch.
In the final restart, a firefight between Donahue and Woodard, with plenty of action behind them, Jason Woodard claimed his first White Mountain win of the season followed by John Donahue and Matt Potter.
After each earning a +5 in the second qualifying heat, this year’s White Mountain track champion Kasey Beattie and current ACT rookie of the year leader Tanner Woodard brought the 45th Fall Foliage 200 to green to wrap up the evening’s scheduled events.
Woodard quickly took control at the front, looking to grab up the lap-leader bonus points with the championship event right around the corner. A short series of quick spins re-racked the field in the opening laps with Woodard staying consistent out ahead of Beattie at the front.
Woodard lost control off turn two with a flat left front on lap 25 to lose the lead and bring out the lap 27 caution.
Now under the control of Keegan Lamson at the front, Beattie faced heavy pressure from top ACT hunters Alexendre Tardif, Derek Gluchacki and Gabe Brown. With the first fifty laps in the books, Lamson continued his reign atop the 29-car field with Beattie and Tardif battling behind him.
Following the competition stop for fuel, many teams returned to take on their right-side change tires and settle in for the remaining 148 laps. Lamson muscled his way back to lead lap 54 with Milton CAT Midsummer Classic 250 winner Jesse Switser working his way up into second around Tardif.
After a red flag caution for Peyton Lanphear, Switser overtook the lead from Lamson on the restart with Tarif swooping under to claim second. Jason Corliss entered the top-five mix with Joey Pole after recovering from an early melee in turn two as Switser and Tardif paced the field.
Shaw and Lamson got physical for third with Shaw prevailing as championship rival Gabe Brown and Joey Pole fought side-by-side for fourth. Alexendre ‘Fireball’ Tardif stole away the lead from Switser on lap 85 and dug deep to stretch his lead.
While Tardif used lap traffic to his advantage, so did Shaw as he crept closer to Switser’s hold on second-place. After contact with Dillon Moltz in turn one, Remi Perreault went around across the corner and brought out the yellow on lap 122.
Tardif and Switser restarted ahead of championship stalemate Shaw and Brown with a field of wild cards behind them. A dogfight for the two continued as Shaw overcame a loose Gabe Brown for third and Switser powered back to the front ahead of Tardif.
With 50 laps remaining, the four ran nose-to-tail with Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. tagging on to make it five in line around the bullring.
Calamity struck Jesse Switser with just fourteen laps remaining as his right rear tire let go after several very loose laps for the West Burke driver gifting Tardif the lead but a hell-fire restart to come.
Hoping for a fast lane on the outside, Tardif made a bold statement that saw Gabe Brown take the restart lead. Back under the No. 60ME with ten to go, Tardif went for broke with Pole bearing down before a huge pile-up in turns three and four that took out several runners.
The restart saw Tardif get shuffled out of the lead with Brown and Pole at the helm. Brown worked the outside groove while Pole was suctioned to the bottom before Shawn Swallow made contact with Shaw on lap 194.
Brown and Pole again at it on the front row before one final restart with two to go. Pole led the way by just 0.305 seconds over Gabe Brown to claim his third Fall Foliage victory with Jonathan Bouvrette rounding out the podium.
Andrew Molleur would take the top rookie spot with a fourth place finish with Erick Sands following in fifth.
Jimmy Renfrew Jr. and Brandon Barker finished sixth and seventh with Alexendre Tardif, Tanner Woodard and D.J. Shaw all bouncing back from trouble to round out the top 10.