Sweet leads tight championship battle into midpoint of season; Polewarczyk looks for second Tripleheader win

SEEKONK, Mass. – The ACT Late Model Tour is set to return to Seekonk Speedway on Saturday, July 16 after a nine-year hiatus from the third mile oval.

Known as the “Cement Palace”, Seekonk has previously hosted five ACT Late Model Tour events that has seen a wide array of drivers join the winners list.

Todd Stone claimed the win in the series first visit at the track in 2003 while, one year later, Steve Fisher claimed his one and only tour win. Veteran driver Brent Dragon joined the Seekonk winners list in 2005 while Roger Brown grabbed his second – and last to date – ACT win in 2006. Joey Polewarczyk Jr. grabbed his first career win at the track in 2007.

On Saturday night in the Propane Plus 150, Polewarczyk will look to become the first repeat winner and extend his ACT Southern New England Tripleheader point lead after he won the opening event at New London-Waterford Speedbowl in May.

The Hudson, N.H. driver may also be looking for a bit of redemption after he experienced a heartbreaking defeat on Wednesday night at Seekonk in the $10,000-to-win United States Pro Stock/Super Late Model open competition 200-lap event. Polewarczyk had dominated the event before a reported electrical fire ended his night eight laps from the checkered flag.

With Polewarczyk on top of the Tripleheader standings, Nick Sweet will lead the ACT Late Model Tour as its point leader into Seekonk. The Barre, Vt. driver has earned two wins this season and holds a slim 21-point advantage over Eddie MacDonald.

MacDonald, of Rowley, Mass., has a busy weekend ahead of him as he will compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Time may not be on MacDonald’s side, however, as the scheduled start of the 70-lap United Site Services Pro Series race on Saturday is set for 6:45pm. Once complete, MacDonald and crew chief Rollie LaChance plan to trek to Seekonk to try to cut into Sweet’s lead.

Scott Payea of Milton, Vt. sits third in the standings, just 40 points back of Sweet in his return season with RPM Motorsports. Three-time and defending champion Wayne Helliwell Jr. sits fourth in the standings, 50 points shy of Sweet, with Bobby Therrien fifth, 30 points back of Helliwell.

Dillon Moltz sits sixth in the standings in his maiden voyage with the ACT Late Model Tour with Brandon Atkins seventh. Brad Babb, Rowland Robinson Jr., and sophomore campaigner Rich Dubeau complete the top-ten.

Rookie point leader Ryan Olsen will lead fellow rookie driver Devin O’Connell into Seekonk, while former Rookie of the Year Mike Ziter is also expected to compete. Fan favorite Emily Packard will return to the ACT Late Model Tour after missing the event at Speedway 51 in June due to a family graduation. Mark Jenison of nearby Warwick, R.I. is expected, as is Norton, Mass. driver Mark Hudson.

Tiverton, R.I. driver Ray Parent calls Seekonk home and will attempt to claim the win in the 150-lap event. Parent finished sixth in the 2006 event at the track and won the 50-lap Late Model race this past Saturday night.

Many Seekonk regulars are expected to compete, including defending champion and current point leader Dylan Estrella, six-time champion Gerry Degasparre, two-time champion Ryan Vanasse, and 2014 champion Bobby Pelland. Jeramee Lillie, T.J. Moreshead, and Bill Bernhard are also expected.

Multi-time Pro All Stars Series winner Derek Ramstrom is also expected to compete after running to a third place finish one week ago at Seekonk. Thompson Speedway champion Brian Tagg is also expected to compete in the 150-lap event at Seekonk as is current Thompson point leader William Wall.

Post time for the Propane Plus 150 is set for 6:00pm.

PHOTO: Nick Sweet (#40), Wayne Helliwell Jr. (#27), Eddie MacDonald (#17), and Scott Payea (#37) hold down the top four spots in the ACT Late Model Tour standings as the series returns to Seekonk Speedway for the first time in nine years on Saturday. (VMM file photo)