Waterbury, VT — The fifth different driver has earned a stay atop the standings of the inaugural New England Late Model Challenge Cup (NELMCC). Candia, NH’s Jimmy Renfrew Jr. is now pacing the best weekly American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model racers as they get ready for a busy month chasing the $5,000 top prize.
Renfrew, who also leads the Foley Oil & Propane Late Model standings at New Hampshire’s White Mountain Motorsports Park, surpassed Barre, VT’s Jason Corliss to take over the lead. Corliss was involved in an early crash at Thunder Road on July 22, which relegated him to a 20th-place finish.
Two nights later, Renfrew raced to a third place in White Mountain’s New Hampshire Governor’s Cup. The 42 points he earned give him 309 total points on the season compared to the 302 of Corliss. They are currently the frontrunners in the chase for more than $17,000 in point fund money plus contingency prizes from Port City Race Cars, Five Star Race Car Bodies, and ARBodies.
Both drivers, along with most Thunder Road and White Mountain racers, had last weekend off from Challenge Cup competition. Thunder Road’s July 29 program was rained out while White Mountain hosted the ACT Late Model Tour’s Midsummer Classic 250 on July 31. Both drivers competed in that event, with Corliss capturing a thrilling win and Renfrew finishing 12th.
The 18-year-old Renfrew is one of New England’s true “anytime, anyplace” racers. In addition to racing Saturday nights at White Mountain with his family team, Renfrew runs Friday nights at Lee USA Speedway in the 8-cylinder Street Stocks for Lemieux Racing. When there isn’t a schedule conflict, Renfrew takes his Late Model out on the ACT Tour. He’s also made spot starts around the region with both the Late Model and the family-owned Street Stock.
In June, this dedication led to one of the most impressive racing weekends in recent memory. On Friday, June 18, Renfrew won the Street Stock feature at Lee USA Speedway. The following night, he captured a rare “Triple Crown” at White Mountain with victories in his heat race, the semi-feature, and the main event. To top it off, Renfrew earned his first ACT Late Model Tour triumph on Sunday, June 20 at Hudson International Speedway.
Now Renfrew finds himself the leader for two different Late Model championships. To win the Challenge Cup, he’ll have his work cut out. Corliss showed at last weekend’s ACT Tour event that he’s already shaken off the bad Thunder Road outing. He has one more event before reaching 10 starts, and the July 22 dud will almost certainly be replaced in the “Pick 10 format”. Renfrew has multiple outings that figure to be dropped as well.
Although Raymond, NH’s Alby Ovitt sits third in the standings, the veteran recently announced he is taking some time off from racing. That opens the door for East Providence, RI’s Gerry DeGasparre Jr. or Groveton, NH’s Quinny Welch to snatch the third spot. DeGasparre gets back into action this Saturday after his home track of Seekonk Speedway had a scheduled weekend off. Welch, an eight-time White Mountain Late Model champion, will try to bounce back from a disappointing Midsummer Classic 250.
A quartet of Vermont drivers are sixth through ninth in the standings. Danville, VT’s Tyler Cahoon has already made 13 starts between Thunder Road and White Mountain. With five scores of 21 points or lower currently counting towards his “Pick 10”, there is room to raise his total of 259 points. Graniteville, VT’s Christopher Pelkey picked up 48 points by winning the Thunder Road Midseason Championships. Pelkey has made only eight starts so far and has three scores below 20, meaning he could be a Challenge Cup championship factor with a few more strong runs.
Gilman, VT’s Jeff Marshall also has room to grow. Of Marshall’s nine White Mountain starts, he earned the minimum two points twice. White Mountain currently has six events remaining on the weekly Late Model schedule for Marshall to change that. Graniteville, VT’s Stephen Donahue was in a lull for most of July but has time to bounce back. Norton, MA’s Mark Hudson — the most prolific Challenge Cup racer with 17 starts between Seekonk Speedway and Lee USA Speedway — rounds out the top-10 with Brendan Moodie, Kasey Beattie, Marcel J. Gravel, and Stacy Cahoon not far behind.
A frenetic month of August begins Thursday, August 5 with a 50-lap feature at Vermont’s Thunder Road. On Friday, August 6, the Late Models have a feature at New Hampshire’s Lee USA Speedway as part of the Ollie Silva Midsummer Classic. There’s also a Challenge Cup-eligible event at New Hampshire’s Claremont Motorsports Park.
Saturday, August 6 has three more features on the card. New Hampshire’s White Mountain Motorsports Park and Massachusetts’ Seekonk Speedway get the weekly Late Models back on track. Connecticut’s New London-Waterford Speedbowl is also in action with a growing Late Model field. The week concludes Wednesday, August 11 with a 25-lap, $1,200-to-win feature at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
Fans and drivers can follow along with the New England Late Model Challenge Cup all season at http://www.acttour.com/nelmcc. There, they will find the latest point standings, the full point fund payout, the Challenge Cup point system, and much more.