At just 30 years of age, Joey Polewarczyk has accomplished much in his racing career driving both American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Models and Super Late Models in New England. In the ACT realm, he has earned many high marks including the 2014 ACT Tour championship, the Oxford 250 and the Vermont Milk Bowl at Thunder Road.
In addition to driving, Joey Pole and the family team have also delved into having other drivers compete in their stable, most of the time the up and comers looking for the same shot as he looked for when he was 16 years old back in 2005.
Now, after taking some time to focus on his own driving and building his family off the track, Joey Pole is opening up a second seat to give another driver a shot. Only this time, it’s a shot at the Milk Bowl itself, and the driver happens to be named Bubba Pollard. This weekend, the North-South super duo will unite in an attempt to earn a highly-desired kiss with the cow in Victory Lane.
“I feel honored just to have Bubba wanting to drive one of my cars. We’re putting a lot of work into it, and hopefully we have a couple of fast cars this weekend. I honestly think he’s going to have as good a shot as anybody, I really do,” Polewarczyk told Speed51 on the Morning Bullring.
It is a relationship that got its legs just over a year ago in the Midwest, with the deal itself getting its start ironically on the Morning Bullring.
“We went to Berlin, Michigan last year to run the Money in the Bank that they have, we were behind Bubba in the tech line, we talked for a little bit and got acquainted. He came to Oxford and won the 250 last year, we finished second, and we kept talking. Then on the show, he mentioned he wanted to do the Milk Bowl kind of out nowhere. So, we got in touch, we have an extra car, he knows us, and the deal just kind of came together early in the season, and everything is on schedule.”
A winner of the Milk Bowl in 2010, Joey Pole has learned nearly all the tricks of the 150-lap race which is divided into three segments. With the best average finish over the three segments determining the overall winner, and with a full-field invert for the second and third segments, the key is finding a proper balance of discipline and aggression.
“The first segment sets you up. If you can qualify well and get a top five in the first segment, it sets the tone for the race, and who you got to go after. But if you win that first segment, you got to start in the 20’s for the second segment, and do your best to keep that number low. So you got to be cautiously aggressive to have a car for the third segment, but you got to go and do the best you can.”
With Thunder Road’s repave of 2017 still playing an influence on today’s racing at "The Nation’s Site of Excitement," Joey Pole’s biggest key to getting around the 60-year-old quarter-mile is keeping that car planted to that still-black asphalt.
“Its got more grip and it’s faster, but at the end of the day, to me, it’s still the same old Thunder Road. You got to get the car to pivot and you need it to drive off," he stated. "A lot of people struggle with drive off and they get tight in the center. You really have to work on trying to drive straight off with grip, that’s the biggest thing. Coming off four, it goes from three lanes to about one lane. You can run side-by-side, but everyone’s got to give respect off the corners.”
In the end, the $10,000 check and sip of milk from the trophy are all good and all, but the lasting memory is sharing a kiss with "the genuine Vermont beauty."
“It’s like nothing else, hopefully you can say that you've never kissed a cow before. It’s weird, it’s slimy, but if you win the Milk Bowl you got to make it count. You don’t know how many times you’re going to do it, I guess you could go down to the local farm and practice. But, if you can win the Milk Bowl and do it on the frontstretch, that’s a cool deal. It’s a tradition, and it’s something that everyone wants to do at the end of the day, I can tell you that.”
Once again in 2019, Speed51 will be the broadcast home for the Vermont Milk Bowl. It all starts this Saturday, September 28 with coverage of Milk Bowl ACT Late Model qualifying, plus the Prelude to the Milk Bowl 150 for the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models. Then on Sunday, September 29 the 57th running of the Milk Bowl gets the green flag.
Click here to order your video ticket for the Speed51 PPV broadcast.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51