STE.-CROIX, QC — Winning an American-Canadian Tour championship was Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.’s number one goal heading into the 2014 racing season. As Polewarczyk of Hudson, New Hampshire became closer to that feat throughout the season, he added another goal to his list: win a race on his way to the championship.
On Saturday night north of the border at Circuit Riverside Speedway in Ste.-Croix, Quebec, Polewarczyk accomplished the second of those feats by taking the lead from Wayne Helliwell on lap 179 and going on to win the Can-Am 200. As a result of the win, he may also be able to check off ACT champion on his list when the point standings become official early next week.
“Here, this means a lot to me,” Polewarczyk said of his win on Saturday night. “This isn’t an easy race track, especially for me because I’m not a braking driver. I like to stay off the brake and try to roll the center. You can’t do that here. You’ve got to lay on the brake and it’s taken me years to figure that out. I’ve been off the backstretch before and it’s been crazy here.”
Polewarczyk battled within the top-three for the entire event, but didn’t seem to have a car good enough to get by early leader Wayne Helliwell, Jr, who was turning in a dominant performance. That all changed following a lap 175 restart when Helliwell suffered an issue with the steering column on his orange No. 27nh, which forced him to the pit area for the remainder of the event.
“I was pretty sure I was going to finish second,” Polewarczyk told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “You never know in racing. You just never know. We came out of four and I’m like, ‘Alright, we got a really good run there. The car is coming to me.’
“Wayne had his issues there, but we were still able to get the lead and hold off Alex (Labbe) and Jean-Francois Dery. Those are two guys that have run here more than I have and are really, really good here. It took me a long time to figure this place out but it feels really good to get a win here tonight.”
Helliwell spent three or four laps trying to diagnose the problem, but decided to bring the car to the pit with his safety in mind.
“I quit. I just got tired,” Helliwell jokingly said after the race. “Unfortunately, the bracket for the servo on the steering column broke. It was oscillating. It would go all the way in and all the way out, the whole column. When I turned in, it’d go in three or four inches. I was able to pinpoint the column down the straightaway and see it moving through the heim. Before I hurt myself or wrecked somebody for no reason, I decided to just pull off.”
Although the updated point standings are still highly unofficial, Polewarczyk’s performance Saturday combined with the misfortune of his nearest competitors put him in a position to claim his first ACT championship before the season finale at Airborne Park Speedway (NY).
“That’s the first time I heard that,” Polewarczyk said. “That sounds pretty good. It definitely didn’t hurt us tonight and it’s going to make it a lot more manageable going into Airborne if there’s still a chance. It would just be unbelievable to get this win tonight and clinch the championship.
“Like I said, it’s like everything just kind of went our way tonight. You never hope someone has bad luck, but when they do you’ve just got to be there to capitalize on it. It would be so, so awesome to win our first championship. We didn’t want to win the championship without winning a race. We took care of that, so hopefully we can go into Airborne and go all out trying to get one more win.”
Alex Labbe, the defending winner of the Can-Am 200, finished second behind Polewarczyk after leading 64 laps throughout the event. As a result of his second-place finish and Dany Trepanier’s 26th-place finish, Labbe was able to extend his lead in the Serie ACT standings heading into the series’ final two events.
Jean-Francois Dery claimed the final podium spot, while fellow Canadians Steven Boissonneault and Jonathan Bouvrette completed the top-five.
Following the race, as is a Canadian tradition, the top-three finishers were provided with bottles of champagne as they stood on the podium. Polewarczyk, the only American on the podium, struggled to get his bottle open before Labbe and Dery. As a result, he received a champagne bath from the two Canadians.
“It’s my third time,” Polewarczyk said of his abilities to pop champagne bottles. “I can’t find that little metal tab to start with. Last time I didn’t even open it. I just took it home with me.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
ACT Can-Am 200 Unofficial Results
Circuit Riverside Speedway (QC) – August 23, 2014
|1||97nh||Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.|
|6||28me||Rowland Robinson, Jr.|
|17||27nh||Wayne Helliwell, Jr.|
|19||83qc||Martin Goulet, Jr.|