Nick Sweet didn’t roll into Airborne Park Speedway until 5 p.m. ET on Saturday night. He missed all five rounds of American-Canadian Tour (ACT) practice as he awaited word on whether or not his third child would be arriving. When the word came that his son wouldn’t be on the way, Sweet loaded up and made the trip to Plattsburgh, New York. Just two hours later, he earned a plus-three in his qualifying heat to earn the pole for Sunday’s $10,000-to-win ACT International.
“I’m glad we came. We’re having a ball,” Sweet said with a laugh. “This day has been a pretty unpredictable day. My wife, we’re predicting a baby. I don’t think it will happen tomorrow. We’ll see. I’m hoping not. That’s why we were a little late.”
Despite not turning a lap all day around the half-mile New York oval, Sweet started sixth in the second ACT qualifying heat and gained three spots. While he admitted that his team still has work to do in order to compete for the win tomorrow, he’s pleased to be starting from the front row.
“The warm up laps were basically our practice,” Sweet said. “I knew right there to just go out and drive it down in the hole and hope it sticks. It stuck and we had a pretty fast race car. It’s not where we need it to be, I think practice would have helped, but it’s pretty warm here today and I can see all of these guys getting in these cars and they already look spanked. I knew right there I was probably ahead of them.
“I’m just here to have fun. There are no expectations. Who ever thought you’d be able to put it on the pole with no practice?”
Jimmy Hebert will start second on Sunday afternoon, while Bobby Therrien, Donald Theetge and Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. make up the remainder of the top-five starting positions.
Theetge, who is pulling double-duty this weekend with both ACT and the Pro All Stars Series, won his PASS qualifying heat to earn the first starting spot in the 200-lap PASS event. He says he’s ready for 400 laps and 200 miles on Sunday afternoon.
“Oh yeah, I’m ready,” Theetge said. “I’m not tired at all today and we did a lot of laps today. I drank a lot of water and (took) two showers. We’ll be ready or tomorrow. I’m 48 years old, almost 49, but I’m in great shape. Believe me.”
Sweet will lead the ACT field to the green flag in his attempt to revenge a runner-up spot to Patrick Laperle in this event just one year ago.
“Last year was a ball,” Sweet stated. “I hate losing, but if you’re going to lose you’re going to lose to somebody really good and Patrick Laperle is really good here. I don’t like losing, so hopefully this year we can go and put her on notch up.”
Sweet’s biggest worry tomorrow will not be his race car, but instead the possible arrival of his third child. While he is excited to see the birth of his second son, he’s also thrilled to lead the field to green and have the chance to win $10,000.
“We’re going to pray that he stays in just for a couple more days here,” Sweet said. “He’s going to be a boy, so that’s going to be exciting. We’re working on three and we’re all done after that. I can promise you that. This summer has been up and down. It’s hard to focus on racing when personal things get in the way, but that’s alright we’re here and having a fun time.”
What if Sweet does get the call and his wife goes into labor on Sunday?
“Two out of three isn’t bad, is it? Don’t tell my wife that.”
For a full Trackside Now replay of Saturday’s practice and qualifying for both the American-Canadian Tour and Pro All Stars Series, click here.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Dave Brown
ACT International 500 ACT Lineup
|5||97nh||Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.|
|10||27nh||Wayne Helliwell, Jr.|
ACT International 500 PASS Lineup
|2||97nh||Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.|
|15||28||Mark Lunblad, Jr.|