Gravel Hunting a $10,000 Check & Another ACT 'W' at White Mountain
Vermont's Marcel Gravel scored his first career American-Canadian Tour win last time out at Oxford Plains Speedway. Now he looks for two-straight in Saturday's Midsummer Classic 250 at White Mountain.
Previously on the American-Canadian Tour; a new name was etched onto the list of ACT Late Model Tour winners as Marcel Gravel bested the field with a dominating performance at Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine on July 10. While he has raced since then at his home track of Thunder Road, the 26-year-old out of Wolcott, Vermont has been enjoying the spoils ACT victory.
While his schedule is focused on T-Road, Gravel’s part-time ACT schedule does include the next ACT round this Saturday at White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, New Hampshire; and it’s a biggie. The fifth running of the Milton CAT Midsummer Classic 250 at the high-bank, quarter-mile oval boasts the highest lap count of the ACT season, and one of the highest winner’s shares of the purse money, a cool $10,000.
“This is one of the big ones, so naturally I’m pretty pumped for it. But we’ve been enjoying the win at Oxford. Any time we go to the racetrack our goal is to win and Oxford had our number, but we’ve had decent speed there, and we were really, really good that day. It’s still sinking in, the Tour hasn’t raced since, so we’re just sitting on being the latest winner for a little while, it’s been nice,” Gravel told Racing America.
Since moving up from 4-Cylinder Street Stocks, it has been a long road in the Late Model ranks for Gravel and the No. 86VT camp. But, he has matured into a contender at Thunder Road, as well as in occasional visits to Riverside Speedway in Groveton, NH. But, winning on in ACT was quite the monkey that is finally off his back.
“Winning at Thunder Road was big, I’ve been there my whole life. It’s nice to get one away from there on the Tour, I didn’t know if I ever would honestly. We have won at Riverside outside the Tour. But, the few times I’ve raced at other places like Oxford and White Mountain, I didn’t know if we’d ever get one like that, so it was a sigh of relief. Now, we’re looking to get one at White Mountain in one of the biggest races of the year.”
Gravel may not have the greatest amount of experience at WMMP, but he feels he’s reach the point that he can put up as great a fight as he would at Thunder Road.
“White Mountain is its own animal with the second groove having the newer pavement, it makes the track race entirely different than anything we’re used to. I’ve made a lot of gains the last time in terms of how I drive the track, we just got caught up in somebody else’s melee. My dad has always given me a good car when we go there, it’s just hard to keep the balance when we don’t race there often. We unload well, we just need to finish well, and I think we got the notebook and the best racecar I’ve ever had.”
A unique challenge for the Midsummer Classic 250 is that it is the only ACT race to feature live pit stops. But, Gravel believes that this may be something he and his crew can seize upon.
“It's the longest race we run, but when you put pit strategy in there it gives an opportunity for some spoilers, I think. Everybody is going to be on their own agenda, it also comes down to when the cautions fall so you can get on pit road. 250 laps is very demanding on the drivers for sure, you can’t wreck it on lap 80 of a 250-lap race.”
Feeling he has the momentum out of Oxford, Gravel sees no reason that he can add ACT’s newest crown jewel race to his resume, joining the likes of Eddie MacDonald, Wayne Helliwell Jr, Dillon Moltz, and Jason Corliss as the few who have been the first to checkered flag after 250 laps around White Mountain.
“If we go over there and steal this thing; that would be big for us. We’ve been on kind of a roll this year, my dad and Gerry Crooks have been giving me really good racecars, and it’s so much fun to go to the track every week and feel like a legitimate contender. All of the big guns were at Oxford, that shows we’re capable of running with all of those Tour guys, and we’re going to have even more big guns including the guys that run White Mountain every Saturday. It’s going to be a battle but I’m excited for it. I’ve never been this excited the two other times we’ve run the 250, and I feel like I got the confidence to go with it too.”
Those unable to make it out to White Mountain Motorsports Park on Saturday can watch the ACT Late Models and all racing divisions on the schedule live on RacingAmerica.tv. The stream goes live at 5pm ET with post time for racing scheduled for 5:15. Then later in 2022, turn your TV’s to MAVTV when the Milton CAT Midsummer Classic 250 will be featured on the new season of Short Track America.
-Photo credit: Alan Ward/ACT