PHOTO: Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., (#97) gets into then race leader Eddie MacDonald (#17) late in the New Hampshire Governor’s Cup 150. MacDonald wound spin and Polewarczyk would be penalized, ending the chance at victory for both drivers. (Alan Ward photo)
–by Ricky St. Clair
LEE, N.H. — Joey Polewarczyk Jr., couldn’t have timed his pit stop more perfectly in the closing stages of Sunday’s Governor’s Cup 150 at Lee USA Speedway. After pitting for two right-side tires on a lap 117 caution period, Polewarczyk charged through the field in 13-laps and put himself in contention of then race leader Eddie MacDonald.
Polewarczyk, who owned tires with 117 less laps than MacDonald’s tires, closed-up on MacDonald too fast and clipped his left rear quarter panel coming off the exit of turn two. The incident sent both drivers to the rear of the field on the ensuing caution and left Polewarczyk disheartened.
“(MacDonald) knew I had faster tires, and I could have just waited a lap to go by him, but I got to the throttle and he didn‘t,” Polewarczyk said. “It’s stupid because it cost me the race and wrecked our chances of winning. I feel terrible for Eddie.”
MacDonald, son of Lee USA Speedway owners Red and Judy MacDonald and a three-time winner on the American-Canadian Tour (ACT), was stunned with the aggressiveness of Polewarczyk considering the significant differential in tire wear.
“I don’t know what he was thinking, but he just drove in the back of us and spun us out,” MacDonald said. “It’s unfortunate, but new tires are going to make the car quite a bit quicker. Yet, I didn’t think new tires were going to pick up that fast watching other cars on the track. It’s a shame that we were unable to get a chance to win.”
Polewarczyk, now in his eighth year of competition in ACT, recognized how he and his team handled the situation.
“I’m really happy with everyone and how they were able to keep me cool,“ Polewarczyk said. “I was so upset with myself inside the car. A couple of years ago, I would have lost my mind and probably wrecked the car after that.”
The 23-year-old driver from Hudson, N.H., who started 13th in the 28-car field, was content with salvaging a fourth-place finish, especially considering his admitted mistake of turning MacDonald.
“To start off with a top-five as compared to wrecking in the first race last year is definitely a good start,” Polewarczyk said. “We really want the championship this year, and it would have been great to start off with a win.”
After leading 12-laps in the event, MacDonald battled back from the episode with Polewarczyk and a small mishap with Derek Lynch and Ben Rowe just a few laps later to finish seventh.
“I was really happy how the car was handling,” MacDonald said. “We were taking it pretty easy, but when it was time to go, we went. The only bad thing is that we got stuck behind a mess and got involved in another wreck. The guys did a good job of getting the car fast. It’s too bad, but we’ll get ‘em at the next one.”
The American-Canadian Tour Late Models have next weekend off before traveling to Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vt., for the Merchants Bank 150 on April 29.