2014 ACT champion Polewarczyk set to make first start of 2016 season

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

WATERFORD, Conn. – The ACT Late Model Tour travels to the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday for the first event in the three-race Southern New England Triple Header series.

Entrants throughout the southern New England region are expected to race head-to-head for 100 laps with the current crop of ACT Late Model Tour stars. Expected entrants representing southern New England include 2010 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion Keith Rocco, former Thompson Speedway Pro Stock champion Larry Gelinas, defending Thompson Speedway Late Model champion Brian Tagg, front runner Jeff Smith, and two-time Thompson Speedway winner this season William Wall.

Also expected to enter the event are part-time ACT stars Joey Polewarczyk Jr. and Ray Parent.

For the 2014 ACT Late Model Tour champion Polewarczyk, it will be his first event of the season since taking his family-owned race team in a different direction for the 2016 season by serving as a driver development program. The team currently fields the No. 61nh NAPA Auto Parts Ford for Ryan Olsen.

“I can’t wait to strap in this weekend,” Polewarczyk was quoted in a recent ACT press release. “I have enjoyed the crew chief and spotting thing, but after nearly  a dozen years of 100% commitment to racing, I’ll have to admit it has been different. The perfect track for me to return to is at the (New London-Waterford) Speedbowl — I love it. It is certainly one of my very favorites.

“I can’t wait to finally get to race.”

For Parent, it will be just his second ACT Late Model Tour event this season after his team was forced to scale back its racing operation due to the loss of their primary sponsor. However, Parent is a Late Model victor at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl previously and his run in the season opening ACT Late Model Tour event at Lee USA Speedway should put him in a good position with the similarly-configured Speedbowl.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Parent said when reached on Friday morning.

In the midst of the first Southern New England Triple Header event is a tight ACT Late Model Tour championship battle shaping up.

After his back-to-back top-two place finishes, Thunder Road race winner Nick Sweet holds the points lead over Airborne Park Speedway race winner Eddie MacDonald by just nine points. Scott Payea, who earned a victory at Lee USA Speedway in just second race with RPM Motorsports, sits third in the standings, 14 points back of MacDonald.

Jimmy Hebert sits fourth in the standings, but stated his intention to step away from full-time competition recently to VtMotorMag.com. Oxford race winner Bobby Therrien, who sits fifth in the standings after he dropped from the point lead after Airborne, is 22 points back of Payea.

Three-time and defending ACT Late Model Tour champion Wayne Helliwell Jr. has had a disappointing stretch in the last two races and has seen his drop from second to sixth in the standings. Currently, Helliwell sits 48 points back of sweet. Newcomer Dillon Moltz returns to his home at Waterford Speedbowl seventh in the standings while Rowland Robinson Jr. is just four points back of Moltz in eighth. Brad Babb sits ninth in the standings, eight points back of Moltz, while Brandon Atkins completes the top-ten, 81 points shy of the lead.

Post-time for heat race qualifying is set for 5:15pm.

PHOTO: Former ACT champion Joey Polewarczyk Jr. will make his first start of the 2016 season at New London-Waterford Speedbowl in the first event for the ACT Southern New England Triple Header. (VMM file photo)