PHOTO: Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., drove this car to a fifth-place finish in the American-Canadian Tour event at Twin State Speedway on Saturday. (Eric LaFleche/ photo)

N.H. racer rebounds after Twin State wreck, has strong showing at Lee before crash

–by T.J. Ingerson

CLAREMONT, N.H. — While Saturday’s stat sheet for the American-Canadian Tour Jim’s Captown 100 at twin State Speedway may hint at an impressive run from 26th to fifth for Joey Polewarczyk, it won’t show the adversity the team faced to get there.

After a hard heat race crash, the Hudson, N.H., team had given up on the No. 97 Pole’s Automotive Ford Fusion. Fellow ACT racer Joey Laquerre offered up his No. 15 Laquerre’s Marine Ford, but that gesture was denied by ACT race procedure; once qualifying begins, drivers may not change cars.

Work began on Polewarczyk’s car, as the team feverishly began replacing the entire right-front suspension. ACT team owners Rick Paya (Brian Hoar and Austin Theriault) and Brian Bernhardt (Wayne Helliwell, Jr.) offered assistance, while members of the Brad Babb team — including Babb himself — jumped in and helped with the repair efforts. Benefitted by lengthy qualifying by the Twin State Speedway local divisions, Polewarczyk was able to make his consolation race.

Polewarczyk was once again involved in another skirmish, albeit minor, rendering the team to start at the rear of the last-chance qualifier. Polewarczyk worked his way from the 11th starting position to finish sixth, securing one of the ACT provisional starting spots.

“Honestly after the heat race, after we cut the tire down and hit the wall, we were ready to load this car up,” said Polewarczyk. “That’s how bad it was. This crew right here, they worked their butts off. They really worked hard to not just get back out there, but to give me a car that could compete really well. Our first goal was to just make the race.”

Starting 26th, Polewarczyk quickly moved his way through the field, moving into the top ten shortly after the halfway point in the race. Polewarczyk restarted ninth on a lap 68 restart, battling his way to sixth with 15 laps to go. He faced one final challenge from John Donahue, moving to the inside of him with five laps to go to secure the fifth position.

“I was excited,” Polewarczyk said. “I told myself, ‘You gotta be kidding me.’ I knew we had a good car. I could really drive off the bottom and get under guys as they would push up. I got by John, caught Brent [Dragon], Randy [Potter], and [Luke] Hinkley, and I was like, ‘Why couldn’t this be a 150-lap race?’ I was catching those guys. I just ran out of time. But, man, what an amazing night.”

“We just never gave up,” said Polewarczyk. “What comes to mind to me is when Jean-Paul Cyr wrecked [in qualifying] at White Mountain a few years ago. Those guys didn’t give up, and they finished third. It just goes to show that we may not be competing for a championship this year, it may be too far out of reach, but once we start running good all year, not just at the end of the year, we’ll be there. When we look back when this season’s over, I think tonight will be the point where everything turned around. We were ready to give up, but we just didn’t. Everyone worked hard and we got a top five finish to show for it.”

The Twin State event was the start of a big week for Polewarczyk; he raced in the Pro All Stars Series event at Lee USA (N.H.) Speedway on Tuesday, and on Friday he’ll head to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race on the Magic Mile, driving a Fadden Racing car owned by Mike Olsen.

“It just so happens that the week we race three times is my vacation week,” Polewarczyk joked at Twin State. “It’ll be a fun week, [we’ll] definitely be busy. It was a good way to start when we all thought it was going to be a bad way.”

Unfortunately for Polewarczyk, the PASS event at Lee went the opposite way of the Twin State race; Polewarczyk started well and led a race-high 105 laps of the Bastille 200, but was collected in a wreck caused by a backmarker late in the race and finished 15th.

Polewarczyk returns to the Fadden Racing seat for the first time since finishing 21st at South Boston (Va.) Speedway for the team in April 2010. He also competed with Fadden Racing at Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway in 2010 and New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2009.