Joey Polewarczyk’s first bid for a home-track win Sunday night came up thirteen laps short, but he had another 150 laps to look forward to.
And in the Pro All Stars Series-sanctioned third leg of a tripleheader at Hudson Speedway, “Joey Pole” made every one of those laps count.
Polewarczyk led the final 90 circuits around the high-banked quarter-mile to take his seventh career PASS North win and his second of the season.
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“We really wanted this one, being so close to my house,” Polewarczyk told the crowd after climbing from his car on the frontstretch. “I live less than a mile down the street, so it’s awesome to see an awesome crowd here tonight.”
Polewarczyk brought both his American-Canadian Tour and PASS mounts to the evening tripleheader, hoping to capitalize on a night when few drivers in the pit area had experience in similar cars.
Overheating issues forced Polewarczyk to the pits before the end of the ACT Tour feature, but the veteran driver and his team regrouped for the 150-lap PASS main event.
Heat winner Kate Re brought the field to green, shaking off Jake Johnson to lead the opening stint. The sophomore Super Late Model racer was in control when Ben Rowe spun to bring out the first caution at lap 26.
On the restart, fellow second-year PASS racer Anthony Constantino made a bold move down the backstretch to take the lead, while Re was shuffled out of the lead on the high side. A few laps later, contact between Rowe and reigning champion DJ Shaw brought out another caution, with Shaw bringing his ailing car to the pits.
Gabe Brown, who followed Constantino through the leaders, restarted in second but was unable to unseat Constantino on the restart. A lap later, Derek Gluchacki caught the frontstretch wall and slowed dramatically in traffic, collecting Joey Doiron and Dan Winter to bring out a third yellow flag.
Constantino continued to set the pace under green, with Brown and Johnson following. Polewarczyk, who had started deep in the pack, was only 13th at the first caution, but had moved into the top five when a spinning Dan Winter brought out a fourth yellow.
Polewarczyk picked off Johnson and Brown, then set his sights on Constantino. On lap 60, Polewarczyk made his move down the backstretch, taking the lead from the Mainer. Brown moved Constantino out of the way for second, with Johnson and Jake Matheson slipping past the white #14 as Constantino tried to gather his car back up.
Polewarczyk’s greatest threat came at lap 78, when hard racing between Devin O’Connell and Jeremy Davis set off a multi-car incident that ended the evening for Angelo Belsito, Kate Re and JR Robinson. Polewarczyk brought the field around for the green flag and set sail, leaving Brown to battle for second.
From there, Polewarczyk only had to worry about lapped traffic en route to the victory.
“Unfortunately, we had a pretty good ACT car,” Polewarczyk said. “Just got two flat tires, and was overheating. It just wasn’t our day with that car, but this car was awesome all day.”
Johnson held on to finish second, his best PASS North performance yet. “We had a really good race all day,” the 2020 Snowflake 100 winner said. “I’ve gotta thank everyone that came out to support me and help me. I really couldn’t do anything without that.”
Derek Griffith started deep in the field with Polewarczyk, but hoped to challenge his fellow Hudson native for the win. A slow start left the Thompson Speedway winner mired in the back of the pack early on, but he clawed his way through traffic for a third-place performance. “[Polewarczyk] was hooked up, he was good all day,” Griffith said. “We kind of got dropped to the back a few times, tried to come up through, got into a couple people’s messes.”
Rookie Jake Matheson was a career-best fourth, with Gabe Brown crossing the line fifth after fading late in the run.
Points leader Johnny Clark had a quiet evening en route to a sixth-place finish, with Granite State Pro Stock Series regular Mike Mitchell finishing a strong seventh. Scott McDaniel was the last car on the lead lap, barely beating Polewarczyk to the stripe to finish eighth. Jeremy Davis and early leader Constantino rounded out the top ten.
Polewarczyk, one of ACT’s winningest racers, has run an “outlaw” schedule since his 2015 Tour championship, with the exception of last year’s GSPSS title run. A win at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway earlier this year hinted at a possible title defense. However, Polewarczyk has reverted to a pick-and-choose approach since then. With Sunday’s win, Polewarczyk has won multiple PASS races in a single season for the first time since 2016, when he visited the winner’s circle three times.
Sunday night’s race was the first visit to Hudson for the PASS North Super Late Models, after a planned race last year was scrubbed from the schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The sanctioning body had explored the speedway with the PASS Modifieds, a part of Sunday’s tripleheader, in 2014 and 2019. Fast fendered cars are hardly new to Hudson; the GSPSS has run regularly at Hudson since 2012.
Track owner Ben Bosowski has poured money into the facility in the last few years to accommodate higher-profile touring events. A new wall around the oval, a paved pit area and renovated grandstands are among the upgrades under Bosowski’s ownership, with a track pub and expanded parking next on the list.
For Griffith, who showcases the Hudson Speedway logo on his car and firesuit in races across the country, the quarter-mile has a very special significance. “Hudson Speedway, I love this place,” he said. “I love it here so much and it means the world to me.”
A number of the early front-runners, including Matheson and Brown, had ample GSPSS experience to fall back on.
But so did Polewarczyk, the 2019 winner of the GSPSS Gate City Classic.
And on a night where local expertise was critical, so was veteran patience.
Unofficial Results, PASS North Hudson 150 at Hudson Speedway:
1. (97) Joey Polewarczyk
2. (15MA) Jake Johnson
3. (12G) Derek Griffith
4. (52NH) Jake Matheson
5. (47) Gabe Brown
6. (54) Johnny Clark
7. (40) Mike Mitchell
8. (14) Scott McDaniel
9. (09) Jeremy Davis
10. (14ME) Anthony Constantino
11. (4) Ben Rowe
12. (43) Devin O’Connell
13. (81) Dan Winter
14. (8) Angelo Belsito
15. (10) Kate Re
16. (20) JR Robinson
17. (90) Craig Weinstein
18. (27) Derek Gluchacki
19. (73) Joey Doiron
20. (60) DJ Shaw