Polewarczyk Conquers Richmond’s ACT Challenge

Joey Polewarczyk Jr. (center) outran Wayne Helliwell Jr. (right) and Rich Dubeau (left) to win the inaugural ACT race at Richmond Raceway. (Alan Ward Photo)

RICHMOND, Va. – Joey Polewarczyk Jr. scored one of the biggest wins of his American-Canadian Tour career by winning the inaugural Commonwealth Classic 65 at Virginia’s Richmond Raceway on Saturday.

Polewarczyk took the lead for good on lap 42 and survived a pair of bids from Wayne Helliwell Jr. en route to the victory.

For Polewarczyk , the $5,000 score in ACT’s inaugural visit to the legendary raceway was yet another crown jewel on his racing résumé. The veteran ACT late model racer, who was the 2014 ACT champion and previously earned wins in the ACT NHMS Invitational and the Vermont Milk Bowl, said Friday that a Richmond win would rank up there with his biggest racing accomplishments. The huge smile on his face in victory lane backed up that statement.

Polewarczyk  started fourth in the 38-car field and was content to ride in the early going as polesitter Nick Sweet darted out to a big lead. Once Polewarczyk cleared outside polesitter Jimmy Hebert for second on lap 11, he began reeling in Sweet, and the race’s first caution on lap 14 for Bryan Kruczek’s solo spin allowed Polewarczyk to pull alongside. He then got the jump on the restart to take the lead for the first time.

It was then Polewarczyk’s turn to draw out to a large advantage. But fellow former ACT champion Helliwell was steadily working his way up from the ninth starting position. Helliwell took second from Sweet on lap 25 and began closing the gap on Polewarczyk as the two worked through lapped traffic.

A pair of cautions on lap 40 allowed the duo to go head-to-head. The initial yellow flew for Blair Bessett’s single-car spin. On the restart, the lapped car of Gerard Giordano Jr. got turned around near the front of the field. In the ensuing scramble, Jim Morris also got turned and was nailed head-on by fellow Thunder Road Late Model regular Stephen Donahue. The accident, which brought out the third and final caution, sidelined both competitors for the day.

When the race finally went green again, Helliwell who grabbed the top spot and led lap 41. But Polewarczyk flew back by him a lap later to regain command. Sweet and Helliwell then got to racing for second, allowing Polewarczyk to scoot away. He then continued outpacing the field even after Helliwell finally re-established himself in the second spot on lap 51.

A pack of lapped traffic held up Pole in the closing stages and allowed Helliwell to close back in with hopes of another charge. Polewarczyk was able to get clear of the traffic with a few laps to go and motored off for the win.

Dubeau was one of the fastest cars on the track in the late going. He came from the 10th starting spot to get around Sweet for third with 10 laps to go and was closing on Helliwell before getting hung up by the same traffic. The third place matched the best result of Dubeau’s ACT career.

Sweet ended up fourth while Jake Johnson was solid all race to earn fifth. Tom Carey III was sixth and Bobby Therrien was seventh. Alex Guenette was the highest-finishing Quebec racer in eighth. Brandon Atkins and Ryan Kuhn rounded out the top-10.


The finish:

Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Wayne Helliwell Jr., Rich Dubeau, Nick Sweet, Jake Johnson, Tom Carey III, Bobby Therrien, Alex Guenette, Brandon Atkins, Ryan Kuhn, Patrick Laperle, Jonathan Bouvrette, Mark Johnson, Mathiew Kingsbury, Alexandre Tardif, Jimmy Hebert, Christopher Pelkey, Tyler Cahoon, Shawn Swallow, Nicholas Johnson, Joshua Hedges, Marcel J. Gravel, Marc Begin, John Donahue, Jeff Marshall, Tyler Chapman, C.J. McLaughlin, Blair Bessett, Gerard Giordano Jr., James Linardy, Scott Coburn, Jesse Switser, Martin Goulet Jr., Boomer Morris, Stephen Donahue, Jean-Philippe Bergeron, Bryan Kruczek, T.J. Moreshead.