NOTEBOOK: Odds and Ends from White Mountain
Posted By Tj Ingerson On June 2, 2014
Categories: Pro All Stars Series
PHOTO: Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., celebrates his podium finish at White Mountain Motorsports Park with his wife, Brittany, and his Pole's Automotive crew after he rebounded from a mid-race spin. (Norm Marx/PASS photo)
Polewarcyk Jr. Left to Wonder; Davis Scores One for the Little Guys; Luce’s Dominance Comes Crashing Down; Defending Champion’s Early Struggles Continue
--by Michael Stridsberg (@OntheMike43)
NORTH WOODSTOCK, N.H. -- Despite a third-place finish at White Mountain Motorsports Park, Joey Polewarcyk, Jr., couldn’t help but wonder what might have been.
The Hudson, N.H., driver started third in the PASS North 150-lap event after winning his qualifying heat and was running second to polesitter Glen Luce at the halfway point. However, as the leaders negotiated lapped traffic, Polewarcyk made contact with Dan Colby in turn three, spinning around and bringing out the event’s first caution.
“I really don’t know (what happened),” Polewarczyk said after the race. “I was a little bit better than Glen at the time. I was having trouble with a couple lapped cars tonight, but I got on the outside of (Colby), and he was driving hard. I was trying to just get around him. I mean, I guess I didn’t give him a lot of room, but he kinda drove it in there pretty deep and just caught the left rear and sent me around.”
A series of cautions and major wrecks that followed allowed the part-time PASS competitor to work his way back up to the third position within the next 30 laps. He appeared to be inching closer to leaders D.J. Shaw and Johnny Clark at one point, but faded in the final laps.
“All my saving kinda went out the window because then I had to try to use it up coming from the back,” Polewarcyk said. “I’m really proud of everyone not giving up and still getting a podium finish out of this. We’re gonna win one of these races sooner or later.
“The car was just awesome tonight,” he concluded. “It was awesome in practice, awesome in the heat. Everything was going as planned until that spin.”
* * *
Amidst the big names and big dollars, one car with blank quarter-panels made some serious noise on Saturday night.
Jeremy Davis, a weekly competitor at Oxford Plains Speedway, finished second in his qualifying heat and ran up front for the entire main event, and even led 11 laps in the race’s middle stages. Despite losing several spots after being slow to come up to speed on a lap-99 restart, the Tamworth, N.H., driver eventually came home in fifth.
Although Davis was one of the slowest competitors in the early practice sessions, he said after the race that those speeds were deceiving.
“I didn’t really have any good practice tires, so we picked up almost half a second in the last practice just bolting good (tires) on,” Davis said. “The car drove really good before that on old (tires). I was competitive; I just needed the new (tires).”
The former Canaan Fair Speedway Late Model champion was a top runner on the Granite State Pro Stocks Series in 2013, finishing third in the final point standings. He acknowledged that the PASS North Series is on a different level for his team.
“It’s hard to come run with these guys,” Davis said. “They’ve got a lot of money. There’s a lot of good teams that put in a lot more than we do, a lot more than we have, so we just get what we can.”
Even when he got to the lead on lap 76, Davis knew it was unlikely that he would stay there.
“I knew that D.J. (Shaw) was still better than I was,” he said. “I was just hoping for a good run. I didn’t really care where I finished; I just wanted to have the car in one piece.”
* * *
Davis’ time at the front was the direct result of misfortune for two other drivers.
Coming to the green flag for the restart following Polewarczyk’s spin, leader Glen Luce got together with second-place runner Richie Dearborn. The contact sent the two into the wall at the start-finish line, with Dearborn riding the wall on his driver-side door into turn one. Luce also suffered significant damage in the wreck.
“(Dearborn) got into my right front, and then it got him into the wall, and it spun me into him, so it looked like I was pushing him into the wall. But I was holding my line,” the Turner, Me. driver said. “It was just a racing incident. I feel bad, but it’s one of them things. He’s always been clean to me, so I feel really bad.
“I know there was some things said on some social media stuff, and that’s not how I drive,” he added. “(Dearborn) knows what happened; he got into me, and it dumped him into the wall, which in turn turned us both into each other, and then it looks like…it was something intentional, which is not the case.”
Dearborn was not available for comment following the race.
Luce, who is in his first full season on the PASS North Series, was able to continue following the wreck. However, he was involved in another multi-car wreck on lap 99. Despite the two incidents, he eventually came home in the 11th spot, one lap down.
“I think I would have had a run (at the win),” he said. “I mean, even with all the damage we had and these poor restarts at the end of the race, I could stay within sight of the leaders when they passed me, and we had some damage to the car, so I think we had a top-three car easily.”
To further add to Luce’s woes, the power steering belt fell off at lap 10, which required that Luce ran 140 laps – in which he led 65 of them – with no power steering.
“I didn’t know if we were going to hang on or not, but (the car) just turned so good that I could just take it and pull away,” he said.
“It’s a shame. We had a good car.”
* * *
Luce wasn’t the only driver to encounter mechanical problems at the 10-lap mark.
Defending series champion Cassius Clark, who started fourth, developed a skip in his engine and steadily fell back in the field over the following laps.
“The engine was skipping all the way around, (and we were) trying to get that figured out,” Clark said after the race. “We’ve only got one box in there, so we couldn’t really change too much. We checked the plug wires, those are alright, so I don’t know, we’ll have to figure it out.”
After several pit stops attempting to fix the problem, Clark’s night went from bad to worse on lap 93. Fellow former champion Ben Rowe blew a rear end right in front of Clark, who slid in the oil and smacked the turn-one wall. Both drivers retired from the event at that point, finishing in 20th and 21st, respectively.
The night continued a rough start to the season for the Farmington, Maine driver, who has just one top ten finish in the first five races. Although Clark sat sixth in points coming into the White Mountain event, he was already 95 points behind leader D.J. Shaw – a margin that stands to grow significantly following Shaw’s win.
“It’s just bad luck, really,” Clark said. “The motor starts skipping, and someone blows up in front of you. One race (Star) we got spun with eight laps to go. (At Chaudiere) I was running fourth or fifth, and they had a wreck on the backstretch; I couldn’t go anywhere, and they put us down a lap. Oxford, we got run into with 20 laps to go, and got a left-front flat tire running sixth or wherever. Not much you can do about it.
“It just goes in spells. We’ve got to get going a little better anyway, get the car going better. We’ll get it figured out.”
1. Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., celebrates his podium finish at White Mountain Motorsports Park with his wife, Brittany, and his Pole's Automotive crew after he rebounded from a mid-race spin. (Norm Marx/PASS photo)
2. Jeremy Davis (#09) races ahead of eventual race winner D.J. Shaw (#60) and runner-up Johnny Clark (#54) on Saturday night at White Mountain Motorsports Park. (Norm Marx/PASS photo)
3. Glen Luce (#7) and Richie Dearborn (#33) were involved in one of the season's most memorable incidents thus far on Saturday night at White Mountain Motorsports Park (Norm Marx/PASS photo)