Wayne Helliwell, Jr. made the trip to Valle-Jonction, Quebec on Saturday without the driving force behind his No. 27NH team by his side. Car owner and crew chief Bruce Bernhardt was unable to make the trip after being hospitalized on Friday night. Helliwell set out with the goal in mind of getting bringing a big trophy back to Bernhardt and he accomplished that by winning the American-Canadian Tour 200 at Autodrome Chaudiere (QC).
“Coming here with no notes from four or five years ago to having a car that was up front all day was definitely priceless,” Helliwell told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “With Bruce being home, he couldn’t make the trip this time because he got admitted to the hospital last night. Hopefully this will cheer him up a little bit.”
Helliwell started the 200-lap main event from the 12th starting position and strategically made his way towards the front. He cracked the top-three by the lap 50 mark and settled in behind early leaders Jean-Francios Dery and Donald Theetge.
After getting by Dery with 30 laps to go, Helliwell set his sights on Theetge as the leaders were forced to work through lapped traffic. Helliwell shadowed Theetge for many laps before pouncing on his opportunity and splitting a pair of lapped to take over the top spot on lap 190. From there, the Dover, New Hampshire driver never looked back en route to his fourth ACT win of 2015.
“They were parting as we were all bumping and the car was in a four-wheel drift,” Helliwell explained. “It was hairy, but it’s a control thing. It was unbelievable. I figured we were going to be a second-place of third-place car tonight and we were able to luck out and pull off the win.
“It was organized chaos is what it was when Theetge and I caught that lapped traffic. They were racing for position so you really can’t knock them for not getting out of the way. Normally they just let you have the top but they were racing for positions. They swapped top-bottom, top-bottom and then we went in there two or three-wide and all slid in and the middle opened up so I was able to take it. A bold move but it paid off today.”
Theetge held on to finish in the runner-up spot while championship contender Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. completed the podium. Dery and defending Serie ACT champion Alex Labbe rounded out the top-five.
For a driver with 11 ACT wins over the last four years, Saturday’s win meant a little bit more to Helliwell because of what he will be able to deliver to Bernhardt.
“It’s huge. It really, really is,” Helliwell said. “This all came about late, late last night. We loaded up the car and he was sick. I was trying to force him, trying to be the father and tell him to go to the hospital. He wouldn’t but he ended up going last night and they admitted him right away. Hopefully this will bring his spirits up and he’ll heal up soon and we’ll go to Loudon.”
Unofficially, Helliwell now leads that ACT point standings by 13 points over Polewarczyk heading into the tour’s next points-counting event at Airborne Park Speedway (NY) on October 3.
Full highlights from Saturday’s American-Canadian Tour feature can be seen in the coming days on the 51 Network.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com