WATERBURY, VT – Two freshman Late Model stock car drivers have earned 2008 Rookie of the Year titles in the premier touring divisions of the American-Canadian Tour, as Barre, VT’s Nick Sweet and Patrick Hamel of St-Édouard-de-Lotbinière, QC earned their laurels on the ACT Late Model Tour and the Série ACT-Castrol, respectively.

      Sweet, 23, graduated to the ACT Late Model Tour from the NAPA Tiger Sportsman division at Thunder Road in his hometown of Barre, VT.  After winning the Sportsman championship in 2007, Sweet and his family team began competing on the 12-race ACT Late Model Tour in the northeastern U.S. and Canada.

       Sweet experienced some growing pains in the first three events, posting 30th-place finishes at Lee USA (NH) Speedway and Thunder Road, and failing to qualify at Oxford Plains (ME) Speedway, but began to his stride by finishing tenth at New York’s Airborne Speedway in the STJAuto.com/Fortier’s Community Car Home #88 Pontiac in May.  He followed that up in successive events with a sixth at Thunder Road’s Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic and a fifth at Waterford (CT) Speedbowl, then earned top-tens at Ontario’s Kawartha Speedway, White Mountain Motorsports Park in New Hampshire, Oxford Plains, and in the Chittenden Bank Milk Bowl at Thunder Road.  Sweet’s second-place finish at Oxford’s New England Dodge Dealers 150 in September was the best result of his young career.

       Overall, Sweet finished an impressive ninth in ACT Late Model Tour championship standings and earned the Rookie of the Year title over fellow Vermonter Tyler Cahoon of St. Johnsbury by 38 points, 121-83.  Jonathan Urlin of London, ON finished third in rookie standings, followed by Ricky Wolf, Jr. of Northwood, NH and Matt White of Northfield, VT.

       At only 19 years old, Hamel’s performances were equally as impressive on the Série ACT-Castrol.  After winning the 2007 Série Super Sportsman touring championship in Québec, the teenager, father Michel, and their closely knit team stepped up to the Série ACT-Castrol for the full eight-race schedule.  Instantly, success became the norm.

       In his debut performance, the “Canadian Cowboy” grabbed an eighth-place showing at Autodrome St-Eustache near Montréal, a flat, 4/10-mile oval.  At the high-banked Autodrome Chaudière 1/4-mile in Vallée-Jct., QC, Hamel finished sixth and won the Kenyon Racing Products Hard Charger Award for improving his position the most of any driver during the race (18 positions), then continued to show his versatility in the Hamel Construction, Inc. #51 Chevrolet by earning another sixth at Autodrome St-Félicien, a quirky half-mile tri-oval in northern Québec.  His best finish of fourth came at Chaudière in August, followed by back-to-back eighth-place finishes at the fast
Autodrome Montmagny 3/8-mile.  Hamel also posted a tenth-place finish in the Coors Light 200 “Showdown at Chaudière,” an invitational all-star race for the top ACT Late Model Tour and Série ACT-Castrol drivers in September.  Sweet finished 18th after running in the top-five for most of the race.

       All told, Hamel finished seventh in the Série ACT-Castrol championship standings.  He outdistanced fellow 19 year-old Spencer MacPherson of Carleton Place, ON by 19 points, 97-78, to win the Rookie of the Year title. Justin Holtom of Ottawa, ON and Jonathan Urlin rounded out the freshman field.

      Hamel will be honored at the Série ACT-Castrol Banquet of Champions in November, while Sweet will accept his award at the ACT Banquet of Champions in January.  Banquet dates and details will be announced soon.  For more information, call (802) 244-6963 or visit www.acttour.com or www.laserieactcastrol.com.