After hitting a light pole early in August, Joey Polewarczyk has been lights-out on the American-Canadian Tour.
The 2014 ACT Late Model Tour champion prevailed in a late duel with Gabe Brown to win his second ACT Tour feature of the year and the 22nd of his career in last Saturday’s Fall Foliage 200 at White Mountain Motorsports Park.
Polewarczyk led only three laps all night, while the drivers who dominated early met with misfortune of their own.
The Hudson, N.H. veteran started deep in the field in 23rd, while Kasey Beattie and ACT Tour rookie Tanner Woodard brought the 29-car field to green. Woodard led 24 laps before a flat tire slowed him on lap 27, handing the lead to Keegan Lamson and bringing out a caution flag. Lamson showed the way for 43 laps of his own, while Tour racers Alexendre Tardif, Derek Gluchacki and Brown began carving up the field.
Lamson stayed out front through a competition caution for fuel, then remained in the lead as a red flag was thrown for Peyton Lanphear, who pulled to the infield for medical attention.
Jesse Switser nabbed the lead from Lamson on the restart, with Tardif following the Midsummer Classic 250 winner for second. Lamson would eventually retire with mechanical issues, while Switser and Tardif swapped the lead nearing the halfway point. Points leader D.J. Shaw muscled his way to third.
A caution for Rémi Perreault’s spin on lap 122 bunched up the leaders, with Switser taking the lead back from Tardif while Shaw and Brown settled into third and fourth. Polewarczyk, clawing back from early trouble, had made it back to fifth with fifty laps remaining.
Switser was en route to repeating his $10,000 August victory when his right rear tire failed with 14 laps to go, sending the local racer spinning while opening the door for Tardif. Brown made a play for the lead, looking to sweep the day’s major features after winning the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Model feature earlier in the afternoon. But Tardif battled back, reclaiming the top spot before chaos erupted within the top ten.
A turn-three pileup that maimed the hopes of many contenders gave Tardif hope on his drive for his own first career ACT Tour win. But the Quebecer was shuffled back through the pack on the restart, with Brown and Polewarczyk battling for the checkers. Contact between Shawn Swallow and Shaw brought out one more yellow flag with only a few circuits remaining.
In the final dash to the finish line, Brown was no match for Polewarczyk, who slipped away to score his first ACT Tour win at the New Hampshire oval.
Brown, second in points entering the weekend, settled for second on the track as well, with Canadian Jonathan Bouvrette scrambling to third at the finish. Rookie Andrew Molleur was a strong fourth, with Erick Sands rounding out the top five.
Jimmy Renfrew, Jr. was sixth ahead of Brandon Barker, making another start in the Sullivan Family Motorsports entry. Tardif fell to eighth, with early leader Woodard ninth. Shaw finished tenth to keep his perfect season streak alive.
But Shaw’s tenth-place finish cost him dearly in the title race, with Brown leaving WMMP nineteen markers ahead of Shaw and 101 nearly-insurmountable points ahead of Renfrew as the season enters the home stretch. Gluchacki’s 14th-place finish keeps him in contention for third, but well out of the title battle.
Only one points race remains, October’s Haunted Hundred at New London-Waterford Speedbowl in coastal Connecticut. But appearance points have been teased for the upcoming Vermont Milk Bowl, likely forcing title contenders to try their hand at one of North America’s toughest short track races.
Polewarczyk won the famed race in 2010, a period that seems like a career ago. Starting his ACT Tour career at a young age, possibly too young for the Tour rulebook, “Joey Pole” racked up plenty of Tour success, winning the 2014 championship, the 2012 Oxford 250 in its last year under ACT rules, and a bunch of notable feature races.
Polewarczyk was a two-time winner of the Fall Foliage event, winning the 2011 and 2014 editions at upstate New York’s Airborne Speedway, now operated as a dirt oval. The Fall Foliage 200 has been staged at multiple tracks since Airborne’s conversion, running briefly at the shuttered Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Maine before moving to WMMP.
After a year with Richard Moody Racing in PASS competition, Polewarczyk returned to the ACT Tour this year, running a partial schedule but struggling through a few hard crashes. In August’s Midsummer Classic 250 at WMMP, an evasive move turned into a driver’s-door-first slam into a light pole berm on the backstretch, an impact that rattled fans but that Polewarczyk ultimately drove away from, albeit with terminal damage.
Since then, Polewarczyk has been on a tear, winning the rain-postponed Spring Green 123 at Seekonk Speedway two weeks later, then finishing third behind Brown at Oxford Plains Speedway on the weekend of the Oxford 250.
With two wins and a podium in his last three races, and a fair bit of success at the Speedbowl too, Polewarczyk could win out to wrap up the year.
But with plenty on his plate between business and family, Polewarczyk might just bask in the glow of victory for a bit after this one.
American-Canadian Tour Fall Foliage 200
White Mountain Motorsports Park
1. (97NH) Joey Polewarczyk
2. (60ME) Gabe Brown
3. (41QC) Jonathan Bouvrette
4. (31CT) Andrew Molleur
5. (36NH) Erick Sands
6. (00NH) Jimmy Renfrew, Jr.
7. (0NH) Brandon Barker
8. (21QC) Alexendre Tardif
9. (68NH) Tanner Woodard
10. (04VT) D.J. Shaw
11. (04NH) Shawn Swallow
12. (7NH) Cody LeBlanc
13. (66VT) Jason Corliss
14. (03MA) Derek Gluchacki
15. (25NH) Jesse Switser
16. (21VT) Reilly Lanphear
17. (61NH) Ryan Olsen
18. (49CT) Anthony Bello
19. (49NH) Matt Anderson
20. (5ME) Dominic Curit
21. (33QC) Rémi Perreault
22. (5CT) Dillon Moltz
23. (19QC) Dany Trepanier
24. (77NH) Bryan Wall, Jr.
25. (45NH) Kasey Beattie
26. (78NH) Quinny Welch
27. (55VT) Keegan Lamson
28. (22VT) Peyton Lanphear
29. (27NH) Cam Huntress