Ryan Olsen, the son of two-time NASCAR Busch North Series champion Mike Olsen, is preparing to take the next step in his racing career during the 2016 season. The 19-year-old driver from North Haverhill, New Hampshire has reached a deal to drive the 2014 American Canadian Tour championship car owned and maintained by fellow Granite State racer Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.
Polewarczyk, known throughout the racing community as “Joey Pole,” told Speed51.com powered by JEGS that Olsen is planning on running the first seven races of the ACT season with the potential to run the full campaign.
“I like this deal because I think Ryan is a really good driver and he’s young, so I’ve been in his shoes,” Polewarczyk said. “Me and my dad will handle the crew chief responsibilities. My deal is going to be to mentor him a little bit because when you’re young it’s good to have someone who has been there before. I’ll be there to help him in any way that I can to get the car going well.”
Olsen, a former winner at White Mountain Motorsports Park in New Hampshire, made a limited amount of ACT Late Model starts last year including his debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the ACT Invitational. He believes that teaming with the Polewarczyk team will allow him to be much more prepared and confident when he’s at the race track.
“I’m really excited. I think it will be a good opportunity to work with both Joey and Joe,” said Olsen. “We knew him from the past because Joey drove my dad’s K&N car a couple times back in 2010. We knew him from there and we just knew they were good people. We found out they were doing this and kind of just started asking questions about it. It took off from there.”
Due to busy schedules outside of racing, Olsen said that it was difficult for him and his father to find the time to work on their family-owned car in the past. Even when they did find the time, he said that they still felt as though they were behind the eight-ball on technology and setups.
As they look towards the 2016 season with the Polewarczyk team, that will no longer be the case. The car will be ready to go when they get to the track and they will have setups that have been proven during recent years on the ACT circuit.
“We just weren’t up with the right setups because my dad has always set up Busch North cars, not the ACT Late Models,” explained Olsen. “We were kind of a step behind everyone else and those guys are at the top of their game.
“Racing one of these guys’ cars, you know you can go out there every weekend and have a chance at winning the race. That’s definitely a big confidence booster, so that will definitely help.”
While both parties know that they’ll have a car capable of winning races, neither of them are setting their expectations at an unattainable level. As a driver, Olsen is focused on finishing every race and recording solid top-10 finishes, while Polewarczyk just hopes to help Olsen improve and learn each and every week they’re at the race track.
“With Ryan’s dad having a lot of success in the K&N series, he’s always been around success and wants that,” Polewarczyk said. “I just want to help make Ryan a better driver and help him learn more every week that we run. I honestly don’t see why we wouldn’t be able to compete for top 10s. I’m not going to put any expectations on it. We obviously all want to run well and I think we can do that.”
At the age of 26 years old, Polewarczyk is now looked at as a veteran of ACT Late Model competition. Among his 18 career wins, which ranks fourth all-time, are a list of big wins such as the Oxford 250, Milk Bowl, ACT Invitational and ACT International.
Olsen recognizes all that Polewarczyk has been able to accomplish in ACT competition and plans to use him as a resource to further his own racing career.
“I know he’s been there and he’s been racing for a while now so he has the experience,” said Olsen. “He knows how to be patient and he knows what it takes to be good. I feel like that will be good for me so that he can teach me to be patient and how to master one of these things.”
As far as his own racing career goes, Polewarczyk isn’t calling it quits anytime soon. He plans to bring two cars – one for himself and one for Olsen – to select events including the ACT races at Seekonk Speedway (MA), New London-Waterford Speedbowl (CT) and New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Polewarczyk also plans on stepping up his Super Late Model program with the addition of a new car during the offseason. He plans to run a select number of Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North events, as well as big races like the Oxford 250 and Pro Stock Nationals at Seekonk.
“Luckily there’s not a lot of conflicting ACT and PASS races this year, so pretty much when I’m not helping Ryan I’ll be running the Super Late Model,” Polewarczyk stated. “For the start of this year, being a new car and all, we’re going to run it as much as we can.”
Despite having his own racing schedule, Polewarczyk’s main focus in 2016 will be on the No. 61 ACT Late Model that Olsen will be driving. He’s proven himself as a driver on the American Canadian Tour; now he’s hoping to prove himself as a crew chief and car owner.
“We want to run well with Ryan and show everyone that we’re going to compete no matter who it is behind the wheel. Hopefully this will further Ryan’s career as well.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: TJ Ingerson/VTMotorMag.com