One of the Northeast’s most successful Late Model racers will be back behind the wheel in 2018 after the longest break of his racing career. Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., known by most in the racing community as “Joey Pole,” recently announced his tentative schedule for the upcoming season.
Polewarczyk, who has not raced since the Oxford 250 on August 27, will return to the driver’s seat of the No. 97NH Super Late Model at Star Speedway on May 5 when the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) visits town.
“That’s the longest break I’ve ever taken from racing,” Polewarczyk told Speed51.com. “It was kind of good. Everyone had some time to do their own thing and I think everyone will be better from it.”
Since Polewarczyk began his racing career at the age of 7, the now 28-year-old racer has spent much of his life at the race track. Although he enjoyed the chance to recharge the batteries, he admitted that he missed being at the race track.
“I definitely did (miss it). I haven’t even been to a race since Oxford,” Polewarczyk stated. “It’s hard to be there if my car isn’t there. I still thought about it and wanted to be around it. My Dad went and helped Nick Lascoula a little bit last year and I helped with the setup at the shop.
“It was different. I’ve been racing every single weekend of my life since I was seven years old, that’s when I started in go karts. That’s been my life from that point. Every weekend from spring to fall has been racing. That’s what I wanted. That’s always what I wanted to do and I love it, and always have. It just got to a point there where everyone just needed a little bit of a break and to recharge the batteries a bit. We’ll see where it goes this year.”
Polewarczyk’s plans for the new season are focused primarily on the PASS North schedule. He’s currently slated to enter 10 PASS events including the Oxford 250, a race he won in 2012, and the Commonwealth Classic at Richmond International Speedway (VA).
Additionally, Pole has his sights set on a pair of open races with the Money in the Bank 150 at Berlin Raceway (MI) and the U.S. Pro Stock / Super Late Model Nationals at Seekonk Speedway (MA).
After making the trip to Marne, MI one year ago for the inaugural Money in the Bank 150, he has the event highlighted on his 2018 schedule.
“I’ve seen races at Berlin and it always looked like a cool track,” Polewarczyk said. “I love the idea of that race. It’s a one-day event, there’s not a ton of practice and everyone is in the same boat. When you have three or four days of practice, the teams with the most money that can buy the most tires usually gain the most from it. We had a blast out there. Unfortunately, we had a rear end issue but we learned a lot. We’ll bring a different engine package this year. That race there is one I’m really looking forward to. I want to be able to run with the best guys from all around out there this year.”
Although Polewarczyk hasn’t been behind the wheel of a race car since August, he has been busy in the shop working with his dad to prepare their Super Late Model. And while other teams are busy preparing their cars for the new season, Polewarczyk’s car is ready to hit the race track.
“After the (Oxford) 250, we had quite a bit of body damage and cosmetic stuff. We redid the whole car, put a new body on it. That car has basically had a brand-new body on it since September of last year,” he explained. “It’s weird because the offseason is usually when you do that kind of stuff, but that car has been ready. We did some stuff we normally don’t do and went through every single thing on the car. It’s been on the lift for a month. We put the motor we wanted to run in there and went through all that. That car is pretty much ready right now actually.”
In addition to his driving duties, Polewarczyk will also be putting a headset back on and playing the role of crew chief for American-Canadian Tour driver Mike Ziter.
Ziter is currently slated to race the Joey Pole Racing ACT Late Model in five events this season. The chance to work with Ziter and help him reach victory lane for the first time is something that Polewarczyk is looking forward to.
“We helped him last year with setup quite a bit, so we were able to work a deal with him for this year,” he said. “I enjoyed doing that with Ryan (Olsen) a few years ago and I’m excited to be able to do it again. I think Mike is ready to win and I hope we can help him get his first win.”
Polewarczyk, the 2014 ACT champion, also isn’t ruling out the possibility of getting behind the wheel of an ACT car at some point during the upcoming season.
“It’s possible. I wouldn’t doubt it,” he stated. “I didn’t put anything on the schedule, but I think ACT has a lot of exciting things going on. I feel like that series has also received a big recharge.”
A big recharge is something that is often needed in the racing world. And in 2018, a recharged Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. will be hunting for trophies throughout the Northeast and beyond.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com