PHOTO: Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., celebrates his $45,500 TD Bank 250 win after a dominating performance, leading a race-high 205 laps. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson

OXFORD, Maine — Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., entered the TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway the most confident race car driver he has ever been.

The number two point man in the American-Canadian Tour has had a strong start to his season and scored three consecutive runner-up finishes on the tour. And that confidence spilled over into the open competition Late Model race, as Polewarczyk won the 250-lap race in dominant fashion.

“This is absolutely unbelievable,” Polewarczyk said. “It’s just an unbelievable feeling. We’ve run good here in the past, but we’ve never really had the best runs in this race. Jeff (Taylor) builds one hell of a car and we were able to get it hooked up tonight. It’s was unbelievable. Everything kind of just fell our way without a lot of yellows. That helps us out.”

Polewarczyk started on the outside pole and quickly jumped out to the lead. The 23-year-old Hudson, N.H., young gun lead through the second caution flag on lap 135. During that caution period, the majority of the leaders, including Polewarczyk, pitted for fresh, new tires. The Pole’s Automotive No. 97 team had an issue with a stripped lug nut, and set them back to the ninth position.

The confident Polewarczyk kept his composure and marched his way back to the front and reclaimed the lead on lap 181. A lap 208 caution flag put second place runner Wayne Helliwell, Jr., to his outside, but Polewarczyk powered out to the insurmountable lead and claimed the TD Bank 250 trophy.

“I told my guys that when I came in that it doesn’t matter, we’ll lose more time if you try to go fast and make a mistake,” Polewarczyk said about his pit stop. “We’re not Sprint Cup teams here. They did everything right and everything stayed on and was tight. We were able to get back to the front and hold on.”

Polewarczyk won his heat race and started on the outside pole. Despite that heat race run, Polewarczyk decided to make a gusty call to make a change to the car prior to the TD Bank 250.

“Characteristically, the track has always tightened up,” Polewarczyk said. “We’ve been making the right calls all year before the race. My dad was very hesitant to do it. But, we’ve always gotten free here. We made a pretty big change before the race, even though the car was good. I was just trying to figure out how it would be on a long run. And that’s what we had.”

“Joey made the calls tonight,” Polewarczyk’s father, Joe Sr., said in victory lane. “Even after the heat race, he said ‘we have to make a change because the track is going to free up.’ I said ‘Joey, the car looks great,’ but he said ‘Dad, trust me.’ We did and that’s the results. The kid is phenomenal.”

Polewarczyk’s second place streak was broken with his $45,500 win and felt there wasn’t a better place to break it.

“If there was one place to break it, this was the place,” Polewarczyk said. “We’ve had a great car all year long. We’ve been there every race, but we just haven’t things go our way to get a win. I’ve feel that I’ve had a car that is capable of at least competing for a win every race. And that’s all you can ask for.”

Nine-time Oxford champion Jeff Taylor finished second and was left out of the winner’s circle again in his 15th time trying. The Farmington, Maine veteran pitted on lap 135 also and appeared to be reeling in Polewarczyk at the end. Taylor ran out of time when the checkered flag flew.

Eighteen-year-old Austin Theriault claimed the third position for the second straight year using an unconventional strategy. The Fort Kent, Maine hot shoe pitted for left side tires on lap 135, and then pitted again on lap 208 for right side tires. The No. 57 Ford appeared to have been shot out of a cannon on the restart as Theriault charged through the field, but ran out of time and finished a close third to Polewarczyk and Theriault.

Dover, N.H.’s Wayne Helliwell, Jr., claimed the lead after the lap 135 pit stops and held on to that lead until Polewarczyk took the lead for the final time. Helliwell faded to fourth when the checkered flag flew. The Oxford Plains Speedway Late Model point leader Travis Stearns, of Auburn, Maine, had a strong showing and finished fifth.

Dave Farrington, Jr., had an impressive showing and finished sixth. Patrick Laperle was the only Canadian driver to qualify for the TD Bank 250 and finished seventh. T.J. Brackett fought back from being a lap down early in the race to finish eighth. Two-time TD Bank 250 champion Eddie MacDonald was in contention for the entirety of the race before falling off and settling for ninth. Brent Dragon was the lone Vermonter in the top ten with his tenth place finish.

NASCAR Sprint Cup competitor Trevor Bayne ran a conservative race and finished in the 31st position, four laps off the pace of Polewarczyk.

Polewarczyk led 205 laps. Helliwell led 42 laps, while Brian Hoar led two laps and Shawn Martin led one lap. Ricky Rolfe started on the pole but was unable to lead a lap.

The TD Bank 250 was completed in one hour, 38 minutes and 12 seconds. There was three caution flags, on lap 69, lap 135, and lap 208, all for minor spins. Polewarczyk beat Taylor by 0.705 seconds.

Joe Polewarczyk, Sr., may have put it best to describe their TD Bank 250 win.

“This is unbelievable,” Joe Sr., said. “I’ve been crying for the last ten laps. It’s just unbelievable.”

Oxford Plains Speedway, Oxford, Maine
Sunday, July 22, 2012


1. (2) Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, N.H. — 250
2. (7) Jeff Taylor, Farmington, Maine — 250
3. (6) Austin Theriault, Fort Kent, Maine — 250
4. (8) Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Dover, N.H. — 250
5. (21) Travis Stearns, Auburn, Maine — 250
6. (18) Dave Farrington, Jr., Jay, Maine — 250
7. (16) Patrick Laperle, St-Denis, Que. — 250
8. (28) T.J. Brackett, Buckfield, Maine — 250
9. (5) Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass. — 250
10. (9) Brent Dragon, Milton, Vt. — 250
11. (24) Shawn Martin, Turner, Maine — 250
12. (12) Scott Luce, Strong, Maine — 250
13. (22) Jeff White, Winthrop, Maine — 250
14. (19) Ray Parent, Tiverton, R.I. — 250
15. (4) Tim Brackett, Buckfield, Maine — 250
16. (26) Brian Hoar, Williston, Vt. — 249
17. (32) Cris Michaud, East Montpelier, Vt. — 249
18. (20) Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton, Vt. — 249
19. (36) Gary Chiasson, Peru, Maine — 249
20. (29) Chris Coolidge, Norway, Maine — 249
21. (15) Jay Laquerre, Barre, Vt. — 249
22. (31) Ben Lynch, Derry, N.H. — 248
23. (1) Ricky Rolfe, Albany Township, Maine — 247
24. (38) Roger Brown, Lancaster, N.H. — 247
25. (10) Bryan Mason, Stark, N.H. — 247
26. (27) Doug Coombs, Livermore, Maine — 247
27. (17) D.J. Shaw, Center Conway, N.H. — 246
28. (35) Jimmy Hebert, Williamstown, Vt. — 246
29. (37) Shawn Knight, South Paris, Maine — 246
30. (23) Dillon Moltz, Waterford, Conn. — 246
31. (33) Trevor Bayne, Knoxville, Tenn. — 246
32. (14) Charlie Rockwell, Newport, Vt. — 246
33. (25) Bruce Haley, Minot, Miane — 245
34. (34) Rowland Robinson, Jr., Birch Harbor, Maine — 216
35. (30) Tommy Ricker, Poland, Maine — 197
36. (39) John Donahue, Graniteville, Vt. — 154
37. (11) Larry Gelinas, Scarborough, Maine — 135
38. (3) Don Wentworth, Otisfield, Maine — 115
39. (13) Ben Rowe, Turner, Maine — 87