Brad Babb entered his home track of Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) on Saturday afternoon a determined man. Just two weeks after seeing a win slip away at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) as a result of contact with Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. while battling for the lead, Babb had redemption, not revenge on his mind.
Redemption was on his mind and redemption is what he got, as Babb took the lead from Wayne Helliwell, Jr. for the final time on lap 148 and pulled away to win the American-Canadian Tour 150.
The win for the Windham, Maine driver is his second American-Canadian Tour win of the 2015 season. He also won the Merchants Bank 150 at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl (VT) earlier this year.
“It’s incredible. Other than winning Thunder Road, this is the best feeling in the world,” Babb said as he stood in victory lane at his home track. “The only reason Thunder Road is better is because I still can’t believe we won there. This is my first win here since 2012, so for a while I was wondering if I was ever going to win at my home track again. But it’s awesome to be back here in victory lane.”
Babb took the lead for the first time on lap 61 when he powered his way by early leader Travis Stearns. He held onto that top spot until a lap 142 restart that would see Helliwell start to his outside. With the outside groove being the preferred grove, Helliwell jumped out to the top spot and lead lap 142.
At that point Babb had two options. He could have been discouraged, shook his head and said, “not again” or he could have got up on the wheel and driven his heart out. The fierce Late Model competitor chose option two and powered to the outside of Helliwell to challenge for the lead again with just three laps remaining.
Babb took the lead from Helliwell and led by a whisker on lap 148 before pulling away on the outside to score the win.
“When he got by I really didn’t know if I was going to have enough to get back by him,” Babb explained. “When I got back up to his rear wheel I’m like, ‘I know Wayne is going to give me the lane. I know he is going to race me well.’ But I still didn’t know if I was going to have enough time to get him. I just drove my heart out and it worked. I can’t believe we won here.”
After the race, Helliwell admitted that his car just wasn’t quite as good as Babb’s and that he was happy to come home second at a track that he has, by his standards, struggled at in the in past.
“We were probably about a third or fourth-place car and were lucky enough to get the jump on that last restart and sneak in to lead a few laps,” Helliwell said. “Bradley did an excellent job driving by on the outside and I wasn’t going to use him up. If I would have pushed the issue we both would have went around and it wouldn’t have done either of us any good.
“Ultimately he did have the faster car and he has a million laps around here. He used the outside lane to his advantage and I knew on the restart that would be the only chance I would have the chance to do it. Luckily, we did get the jump and rolled around on the outside, but in the end he was better.”
As a result of his second-place finish and those all-so-important laps led, Helliwell now unofficially holds an eight-point lead over Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. in the ACT championship standings.
Polewarczyk was running second in the closing laps of Saturday night’s event before getting caught up in an incident between two lapped cars. Contact made between his No. 97NH and Emily Packard’s No. 9ME cut down the right front tire on his car and forced him to pit road with less than 10 laps remaining. He went on to finish the event in the eighth position.
Eddie MacDonald turned heads throughout the night as he made his way from the 22nd starting spot to finish third. Early leader Travis Stearns and Steuben, Maine’s Rowland Robinson, Jr. completed the top-five.
But at the end of the night, all eyes were on Babb as he celebrated a big win at his home track. It was sweet because it was his home track, but it was even sweeter for him after what happened two weeks ago at Oxford.
“I pretty much had it in the back of my mind since Oxford that we were winning this race. I was determined.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
American-Canadian Tour 150 Unofficial Results
Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) – August 8, 2015
|2||27nh||Wayne Helliwell, Jr.|
|5||28me||Rowland Robinson, Jr.|
|6||23me||Dave Farrington, Jr.|
|8||97nh||Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.|
|26||07me||Arthur Heino, Jr.|