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Helliwell Claims Elusive Lee Governor's Cup

Posted By Tj Ingerson On April 26, 2015

Categories: American-Canadian Tour

Wayne Helliwell Jr. celebrates his New Hampshire GovernorPHOTO: Wayne Helliwell Jr. celebrates his New Hampshire Governor's Cup 150 win on Sunday afternoon at Lee USA Speedway. (Eric LaFleche/ photo)

--by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
VMM Editor

LEE, N.H. --
The New Hampshire Governor’s Cup trophy has been one that has eluded Wayne Helliwell Jr., a driver who has seen his racing career rise at Lee USA Speedway. The mutli-time Lee champion had always had to answer the question of when he would be able to triumph at his home track.

After Sunday, he no longer has to answer that question.

The Dover, N.H., driver was able to hoist the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup after a thrilling 150-lap ACT Late Model Tour event at the three-eighths mile oval.

“This means a lot. It’s great to be in front of your hometown fans,” Helliwell said. “Overall it was a great weekend. We have (car owner) Bruce (Bernhardt’s) father make it out for the race today. It just means a lot to everybody. It’s all family. I couldn’t ask for more.”

The No. 27nh EKeys4Cars/Unique Ford Ford Fusion started on the pole position and was established as the early car to beat. Helliwell led the first 77 laps unabated and held off a brief, but tough challenge from Jeff White shortly after halfway.

But Helliwell’s strongest challenge came from fellow Lee USA favorite Eddie MacDonald. The Rowley, Mass., driver would first work his way around the lead car after a lap 93 restart and traded the lead one more time between the two between laps 107 and 117 before Helliwell worked his way past MacDonald on a lap 118 restart for keeps.

“The bottom here is usually the preferred line, but for a lap and a half after a restart, if you can crowd the guy, you can get the spot,” Helliwell explained. “(MacDonald) was free up off, we were able to get that spot, and that was the key move of the race.”

MacDonald’s first move past Helliwell on lap 93 nearly came unrestricted – once Helliwell determined he has lost the spot, he quickly fell in line behind MacDonald and was content with riding for a short while.

“By the time Eddie got to us, I was still felt that I shouldn’t race his race and just keep on our plan,” Helliwell said. “I just let him go and lo and behold, it was the right thing to do. A couple restarts later, we evened back out and I think we actually had a better car.”

For MacDonald, a decision by him and his team with inclement weather threatening may have cost him his second straight Governor’s Cup victory.

“I thought we had a shot at it and definitely used up the tires quite a bit because I didn’t think we were going to get the whole race in,” MacDonald said. “I figured we try and make sure we were near the front when it was around halfway.

“Wayne had a good car and played it right. He drove a good race.”

For both Helliwell and MacDonald, the battle for the win is a little déjà vu as the duo both grew up racing against each other in the late 1990s and early 2000s at Lee.

“A lot of people don’t know that Eddie and I grew up racing here,” Helliwell said. “We battled in the local Late Models and we had some unbelievable battles. It’s cool to do this 20 years later and still battle it out.”

“I was thinking of that when we were racing out there,” MacDonald said. “We did the same thing 20 years ago. It’s a lot of fun to still be running for the win with him.”

Windham, Maine driver Brad Babb was able to get past MacDonald following the final restart on lap 121 to finish second while MacDonald claimed the final spot on the podium.

Reigning Serie ACT champion Alex Labbe of St-Albert, Quebec ran a quiet race and avoided much of the trouble during the race’s nine caution flags to finish fourth while Travis Fadden ran inside the top-ten for the entire 150-lap distance to earn a fifth place finish.

Larry Gelinas ran from a 20th place starting position to finish sixth while Jeff White finished seventh after he ran inside the top-five for a majority of the event. Kyle Welch battled back from an early race incident to finish eighth while Joey Polewarczyk Jr. rallied from a late race spin after contact with White to finish ninth. Nick Sweet pitted midway through the event to combat some handling issues and finished tenth.

The ACT Late Model Tour continues their 2015 season on Sunday, May 3 with the annual Merchants Bank 150 at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150
ACT Late Model Tour – Lee USA Speedway, Lee, N.H.
Sunday, April 26, 2015

(# -- denotes rookie)

1. (1) Wayne Helliwell Jr., Dover, N.H.
2. (7) Brad Babb, Windham, Maine
3. (3) Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass.
4. (10) Alex Labbe, St-Albert, Que.
5. (6) Travis Fadden, North Haverhill, N.H.
6. (20) Larry Gelinas, Buxton, Maine
7. (2) Jeff White, Winthrop, Maine
8. (14) Kyle Welch, Newport, N.H.
9. (12) Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Hudson, N.H.
10. (5) Nick Sweet, Barre, Vt.
11. (4) # Rich Dubeau, Plainfield, N.H.
12. (16) Corey Mason, Groveton, N.H.
13. (8) Rowland Robinson Jr., Steuben, Maine
14. (17) Travis Stearns, Auburn, Maine
15. (9) Emily Packard, East Montpelier, Vt.
16. (18) Todd Davis, Claremont, N.H.
17. (26) Matt Anderson, Franklin, N.H.
18. (11) Brandon Atkins, AuSable Forks, N.Y.
19. (21) Aaron Fellows, Croydon, N.H.
20. (19) Jimmy Linardy, Somerville, Mass.
21. (27) Mike Ziter, Williamstown, Vt.
22. (23) Tom Carey Jr., New Salem, Mass.
23. (24) Mike Bailey, South Barre, Vt.
24. (22) A.J. Panessiti, Barnstead, N.H.
25. (25) Miles Chipman, Nottingham, N.H.
26. (15) Jimmy Hebert, Williamstown, Vt.
27. (13) Dave Farrington Jr., Jay, Maine