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Polewarczyk earns 20th ACT win in Dream Ride 150

Pole vs Dubeau @ Star 2019
Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. (97NH) makes the winning pass on ACT Tour regular Rich Dubeau (30NH) at Star Speedway in the Dream Ride 150. Pole's win was his 20th ACT Late Model victory, second only to Brian Hoar. (Jeff Brown photo)

Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. further established his legacy in the American-Canadian Tour record books with his second-half charge to victory in Saturday night’s Dream Ride 150 at Star Speedway.

Polewarczyk started on the outside of the front row and only took the lead with 59 laps remaining in the event. But in those final circuits, Polewarczyk was unstoppable. The Hudson, N.H. native used lapped traffic to keep Rich Dubeau at bay, taking the checkered flag nearly a third of a lap ahead of second place and becoming the sixth different winner in six races this year.

The win was the twentieth in ACT Tour competition for “Joey Pole,” breaking a tie for second place in all-time Tour wins with veterans Patrick Laperle and Jean-Paul Cyr. Only eight-time champion Brian Hoar, with 42, has more.

Early impressions suggested a rematch of the Tour’s last visit to the Epping, N.H. quarter-mile in 2013. In that race, Polewarczyk prevailed after a late-race door-to-door duel with Wayne Helliwell, Jr. The two longtime rivals, now both running part-time schedules, lined up with Helliwell on the pole and Polewarczyk outside for the start of the feature.

Helliwell, a two-time winner in Star’s weekly Late Models this year, shot out to the early race lead. As Rich Dubeau closed in on the top spot with 30 laps complete, though, Helliwell pulled high on the backstretch and peeled off for the pit entrance, reporting a broken panhard bar.

Dubeau inherited the race lead, and the fifth-year Tour competitor looked to be on the path to his second career Tour win. But Polewarczyk was lurking. The 2014 ACT Tour champion closed in on Dubeau and made his move on lap 91, taking the lead and carving through lapped traffic ahead. Dubeau was able to keep pace at first, but traffic on the tight track soon became too much to overcome.

Rookie Ryan Kuhn ran a consistent and steady race and finished a career-best third. Quebec’s Jonathan Bouvrette put on a show for the fans, charging twice from the rear of the field after early incidents and finishing fourth. Bryan Kruczek, racing for track owner Bobby Webber, Jr., finished fifth.

Dubeau’s title rivals, Scott Payea and Jimmy Hebert, were seventh and ninth on the evening, vaulting Dubeau back into the unofficial points lead with four races remaining.

Polewarczyk, who won the non-points Commonwealth Classic in March at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, earned his first win in a Tour points race since 2016. For the last several years, Polewarczyk has split his time between driver development in the ACT Tour and competing in a Super Late Model. The 30-year-old driver has always spoken with reverence of the role the ACT and the late Tom Curley played in shaping his driving career, and so he maintains a presence on the Tour in a limited capacity.

Star Speedway owner Bobby Webber, Jr. has traditionally used the track’s biggest events to raise money for charity. The Dream Ride 150, named for a charity program that raises funds for the Special Olympics, is no different. Dream Ride representatives were in attendance Saturday, and a number of Special Olympians were welcomed during driver introductions. In Victory Lane, Polewarczyk announced that he and his family team would donate $1,000 of their prize money to the Special Olympics.

The Dream Ride 150 was the finale of the three-race Summer Kickoff Series, with each race paying $5,000 to win. Title hopefuls Dubeau and Hebert won the other two legs of the Series. The ACT Tour is on break through the month of July, but resumes in August with the $10,000-to-win Midsummer 250 at White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, N.H.

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Jeff Brown is a contributor to Short Track Scene. A native of New Hampshire and a long-time fan of New England racing, Brown provides a fan's perspective as he follows New England's regional Late Model touring series.

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