Ben Rowe Ends ACT Victory Drought

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Ben Rowe grabbed his first ACT win in more than 14 years at Oxford Plains Speedway in the Oct. 18 season finale. (Daniel Holben photo)
Ben Rowe grabbed his first ACT win in more than 14 years at Oxford Plains Speedway in the Oct. 18 season finale. (Daniel Holben photo)

OXFORD, Maine – Ben Rowe and Jimmy Hebert took home the glory during the American-Canadian Tour season finale at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway on Sunday.

Rowe broke a long ACT dry spell with his victory in the Lee’s Family Trailer Sales & Service 150 while Hebert’s third-place finish clinched his first ACT Late Model Tour championship.

For Rowe, it was the multi-time Pro All Star Series champion’s first win in an ACT-sanctioned event since 2006 — a drought of more than 14 years. Hebert, meanwhile, finally claimed a title after finishing second or third in the ACT standings four different times during his career.

Jamie Swallow Jr. set the early tempo, snatching the lead from polesitter Marcel J. Gravel amidst a trio of early cautions. Once the field got going, Swallow checked out, putting several seconds between himself and a raging battle that included Ryan Kuhn, Rowe, Tom Carey III, D.J Shaw, Derek Gluchacki, and others.

Swallow ran away again following a pair of lap 42 yellows, but when the race resumed after a lap 62 red flag for T.J. Laro’s head-on frontstretch crash, things tightened up at the front. Rowe stuck with Swallow this time around while Shaw, who entered the event as the only driver who could catch Hebert for the title, also got into the mix.

After following an increasingly loose Swallow through some lapped traffic, Rowe put his Ford to the inside entering turn one on the 81st circuit, completing the pass just before the seventh caution flag flew for Jeff Lebrecque Jr.’s spin. Swallow put his bumper back ahead for a lap following the restart, but Rowe surged in front once again the next time around.

Hebert, who by that point needed only a 16th-placce finish to salt away the championship, then put on a blitz of his own. The Vermonter moved into third following the lap-81 caution and slid into second after a lap-107 yellow when Peyton Lanphear climbed the dirt pile in front of a backstretch light pole. As Swallow and Shaw got shuffled backwards, the Massachusetts trio of Carey, Kuhn, and Gluchacki rejoined the fray.

One final caution after Lebrecque pounded the wall on the front chute set up a 36-lap shootout to end the season. As the laps wound down, Rowe, Hebert, Carey III, and Kuhn broke away, running inches apart for the win. Carey got beneath Hebert for second with five laps to go and made a run at Rowe, but the crafty veteran held him off by a car length for the win.

Carey’s second-place finish was still the best of his ACT career. Hebert took third and the championship along with it. Kuhn came in fourth while Gluchacki secured the ACT Rookie of the Year award with a career-best fifth-place result. Swallow, Stephen Donahue, Erick Sands, and Gravel rounded out the top-10.

Young hard charger Ben Belanger put on a master class in the ACT Flying Tiger Oxford Open to pick up his second win of the season.

The finish:

Ben Rowe, Tom Carey III, Jimmy Hebert, Ryan Kuhn, Derek Gluchacki, Jamie Swallow Jr., Stephen Donahue, D.J. Shaw, Erick Sands, Marcel J. Gravel, Dylan Payea, Joey Laquerre, Dillon Moltz, Bryan Kruczek, Christopher Pelkey, Brockton Davis, Reilly Lanphear, James Linardy, Peyton Lanphear, Jamie Aube, Matt Anderson, Tom Sheehan, David MacDonald, Jeff Lebrecque Jr., Randy Cole Jr., Jesse Switser, Bryan Mason, T.J. Laro, Matthew Morrill, Bobby Therrien.