When Joey Polewarczyk took the lead in Sunday evening’s Gate City Classic 100 at Hudson Speedway, running the race to completion seemed doubtful.
But plenty of drivers were left to wish the weather won instead.
The reigning Granite State Pro Stock Series champion took charge under threatening skies and dodged raindrops en route to his second GSPSS win of 2021 and his fourth Super Late Model checkered flag of the year.
“It was unbelievable, man,” Polewarczyk said in victory lane. “This car was really good the last time we were here, and we got it a lot better tonight.”
Inclement weather bound for the southern New Hampshire quarter-mile, coupled with a late start to the evening’s schedule, forced track and series officials into a hurry-up mode for the evening’s program. Time trials were scratched, with two heats and a redraw setting the grid for the 100-lap feature.
As rain spit from the skies while the first weekly feature staged on the frontstretch, it appeared even that had not been enough. To further tempt fate, two cautions flew before ten laps were completed, both requiring lengthy track cleanups. And as leader Casey Call paced the field after the second caution, the rain intensified, with officials looking for a thumbs-up from the drivers to resume the race.
Call, who started second, nabbed the lead from Bobby Pelland before the lap-2 caution, then pulled away from the pack before the yellow flew again on lap eight for a multi-car incident on the backstretch.
Polewarczyk, meanwhile, made no ground up from his sixth-place starting spot in the first lap and a half. But when the second yellow flew, “Joey Pole” was already second and closing fast.
When officials deemed the track dry enough to attempt a restart, Polewarczyk got the jump on Call instantly. Lingering sprinkles kept the actual end of the race in doubt, but with the field settled down after the lap-eight pileup, Polewarczyk was free to cruise.
The Hudson, N.H. native was untouchable in the final 92 circuits, lapping all the way to sixth on a green-flag sprint.
Polewarczyk conceded that the early wrecks gave him concern as to how long they might actually race Sunday. “That’s the last thing we needed with the rain coming,” he said. “But sometimes you can’t help those things happening.”
Call, who opened the season with terrible luck that sidelined the team for the third race of the year, hung on for second. The series sophomore, a graduate of Legends cars, earned his best run yet at the wheel of a Super Late Model.
Gabe Brown closed the gap on Call in the final laps, but settled for third at the finish. Brown, a former Oxford (Me.) Plains Speedway Super Late Model champion, had a different look on his retro-styled #61 at Hudson, with his door numbers replaced by a red #09 in honor of Maine racing veteran Greg Peters. Peters has been battling cancer, and when Peters’ son John opted not to race his own #09 this weekend, a number of other racers adorned their own cars with tributes and well-wishes to “Grand National Greg.”
“He just was an all-around great guy,” Brown shared after the race. “Since I started racing weekly at Oxford, he was always there, and always pitted close to us. He always had jokes. There was never a dull moment with him. He turned everything into a great time, whether he was pissed off or not. He’d do anything for anyone. I hope he can make it through it, and I wish the best for him and his family.”
Cory Casagrande, the GSPSS track record holder at Hudson, was unable to improve his time but drove to a clean fourth-place finish. Bryan Kruczek rebounded from a heat race spin to finish fifth.
Angelo Belsito was the final car on the lead lap. Mike Mitchell, 2018 GSPSS champ Devin O’Connell, Josh King and polesitter Pelland rounded out the top ten.
Sunday’s win was Polewarczyk’s second of the year at Hudson, a track only a mile from the veteran racer’s home. Polewarczyk fielded entries in June’s PASS/ACT doubleheader; while his ACT mount fell short in the closing laps, he dominated the PASS feature in the Maine series’ first trip to the track.
The win was also further justification for Polewarczyk’s return to an open schedule in 2021 after last year’s unexpected GSPSS title run. Polewarczyk has started races in all three major New England fendered touring series this season, with a GSPSS win at Stafford Motor Speedway and a PASS victory at White Mountain Motorsports Park to add to his Hudson triumphs. The GSPSS is arguably the series in which Polewarczyk has the shortest tenure, but the 32-year-old has already picked up seven wins in his 17 starts under the GSPSS banner.
With five races complete, Gabe Brown leads the points standings by fourteen over Devin O’Connell, with Angelo Belsito another six points back in third. Bryan Kruczek is fourth in points with Josh King fifth. Only Brown, O’Connell, King and rookie Tyler Tomassi have been at all five races. Despite skipping two events, Polewarczyk still sits sixth in the running.
But championship runs are often a case of chasing honor over fun. And with his win total already twice last year’s, Polewarczyk and his family team are having plenty of fun.
Unofficial Results, GSPSS Gate City Classic 100 at Hudson Speedway:
1. (97) Joey Polewarczyk
2. (90NH) Casey Call
3. (61) Gabe Brown
4. (7CT) Cory Casagrande
5. (19) Bryan Kruczek
6. (8) Angelo Belsito
7. (40) Mike Mitchell
8. (43) Devin O’Connell
9. (21) Josh King
10. (12P) Bobby Pelland III
11. (87) Alexander Pearl
12. (82) Jason Ryan
13. (66C) Bobby Cabral
14. (88) Kevin Casper
15. (17) Kevin Folan
16. (99) Billy Joerres
DNS (76RI) Tyler Tomassi
DNS (77) Bill Helliwell