Brent Dragon Hopes To Add Another Page To ACT History Books
New cars, new organization could lead to elusive first Tour title

MILTON, Vt. – Brent Dragon’s name has become almost synonymous with the ACT Late Model Tour. The veteran driver has more ACT starts, more Top-10 finishes and more laps completed than any driver in series history. As if that weren’t enough, Dragon sits fourth on ACT’s all-time win list.

But after nearly two decades of trying, there’s one trophy still missing from Dragon’s mantle. One very large trophy, to be exact.

“We’ve got as good a shot as anybody of winning that championship this year,” said Dragon, four times the ACT championship runner, of his shot at winning the title for the first time in 2011. “Just like every year, we’ve got to get off to a good start. Being ahead of the game from the start makes the rest of the year that much easier.”

Dragon has not finished outside the Top-5 in the final standings since the 2002 season, an impressive run of consistency on a Tour predicated on consistency and not dominance. Dragon has nine ACT wins on his resume, a list that doesn’t include his multiple Late Model track championships at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y., or his victories in non-points races at places like Thunder Road International Speedbowl, Airborne or Autodrome Chaudiere.

After years of fielding his own full-time effort out of his own garage at home, Dragon is changing things up for 2011. He’ll run approximately half the 12-race ACT schedule (plus several non-championship Late Model events in New England) with his own new No. 55vt Beverage Mart/Furniture World of VT/Charlebois Freightliner Chevrolet and the rest with a car provided by Avery Motorsports.

“The biggest thing is that this is going to help in terms of being more prepared going to the race track,” said Dragon, who owns 186 career starts and finished third in the standings last season. “It just gives us all more time to get each car more ready during the week leading up to races.”

The season begins in earnest next weekend at Lee USA Speedway, one of Dragon’s favorite Tour stops.

“I’m getting really excited about the season now that the (winter) weather is starting to break a little bit,” Dragon said. “I took a lot more time off than usual this winter, and I feel better now about the upcoming season than I have in the last few years.

“We’re all pretty excited about it.”

But Dragon knows that the competition on the ACT Tour this season is shaping up to be as tough as any season in recent memory. Brian Hoar is aiming for yet another championship, Joey Polewarczyk Jr. was as hot as any driver at the end of 2010, and a number of first-time Tour winners served notice last summer that they could enter the championship picture.

The one thing Dragon has that many don’t, however, is experience.

“It’s going to be the same group of guys up front every week that it’s always been – I can really see that shaping up that way,” said Dragon, who is slated to make his 200th career ACT start at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in late May. “It always seems to work out that Brian and Joey and guys like that are right there.

“Last year, the middle of the year was tough for us. We started out strong, but with so many rainouts early in the year, we got into a stretch during the summer where we were racing six or seven weeks right in a row. That’s where it got so hard for our team to keep up.”

Dragon believes he’s found an edge this year by aligning with Avery Motorsports.

“When you’re doing things part-time – either our small team trying to get ready for every race or the Averys trying to run a partial schedule – it really puts you behind,” he said. “Not now, though. Now we’ve got two cars, and that’s the really nice thing. We’ll always have another one ready to go back to the track if something does go wrong.”