A spur of the moment phone call to test a Super Late Model in New Hampshire back in July has led to a rare opportunity for Northeast Late Model racer Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.
Just four months after shaking down the No. 8 Fat Head Racing Super Late Model for a Pro All Stars Series (PASS) event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, “Joey Pole” will be behind the wheel of the car for this year’s Governor’s Cup 200 at New Smyrna Speedway (FL).
The opportunity is one that the 2014 American-Canadian Tour champion is ecstatic about following the team’s performance during that practice day in July. Polewarczyk topped the speed charts during that practice session while testing the car for David Garbo, Jr., who was competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Columbus Motor Speedway (OH).
“I wanted to race it so bad last time because it felt really good,” Polewarczyk told Speed51.com. “Dave Garbo did well with it the next day, so it’s a good car. Those guys know what they’re doing. They’re very smart when it comes to all of that stuff that I’m kind of behind on, the shocks and all of that stuff. It’s just going to be an awesome experience to learn from those guys whatever I can learn. Their equipment is good enough to win, so I’m hoping to be able to go down there and contend for the win.”
Although it was just a practice session, Polewarczyk described the feel of the car as one of the best handling race cars he’s ever driven. That fact alone has him pumped up to drive the car and work with the Fat Head Racing team during one of the country’s biggest Super Late Model events.
“It’s huge, it really is,” said Polewarczyk. “To jump into that car where everything was like, they knew what they were doing when they got there, the car was close when they got there and made a few small adjustments. To just jump to P1 first time working with those guys was a huge confidence booster. Like everyone says, practice times really don’t matter but to be able to adapt so quickly with those guys was just a confidence booster.”
Since that day, Pole has been in contact with crew chief Jamie Yelton, and when the opportunity to race the Governor’s Cup presented itself he took it. Now 26 years old, he knows opportunities like this one don’t come around very often.
“In the racing world it’s tough to climb that ladder,” Polewarczyk stated. “It takes a lot more than just skill. When you can run well and win big races, especially a race like the Governor’s Cup, it establishes your name.
“I’m getting pretty old now and nobody wants a 26 year old guy, but I feel like we’ve established my name up in the north. But that’s what I’m known as. I’m known as a Late Model driver, so if I could go down there and run well and at least put myself in a position to have a shot to win the race then maybe I can establish my name as a well-known Super Late Model racer as well.”
In order to leave New Smyrna, Florida with a win, Polewarczyk knows that he’ll need to beat the best of the best in Super Late Model racing. That challenge is one that he’s looking forward to.
“I would love it to be able to run with all of the top drivers,” said Polewarczyk. “I’m sure Bubba Pollard and all of those guys will be there. It would be awesome to run with those guys and be able to throw my name in with them.”
Despite residing over 1200 miles away in New Hampshire, Polewarczyk does have experience racing at New Smyrna Speedway during ACT’s visits to the track in 2011 and 2015. In five career starts at the track, he has one win and four top-five finishes. He also claimed the ACT Speedweeks Cup during their visit in 2011.
“Going to tracks to the first time it always takes me a few practices just to get the line down and figure out where you want to lift and all of that fun stuff,” Polewarczyk explained. “Going down to New Smyrna, where I’ve done ACT races there, I think that’s a huge help.”
“We’ve had success there and Fat Head Racing has been there and had success. Everything is all lined up, I’ve just got to do my job as a driver to compete for the win. I really don’t have an excuse with their equipment.”
Without an excuse in his back pocket, “Joey Pole” believes that a realistic goal is to be standing in victory lane holding the Governor’s Cup trophy on November 15.
“Seeing how their cars have run all year and being able to experience driving it at Loudon, their cars are good enough to win without a doubt,” he said. “I’m kind of putting it on my shoulders where I’m going to need to adapt quick back to Super Late Model mode.
“All I can say is the car is going to be capable of winning so if I can do my job I think we’ll be able to compete for a win.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com