OXFORD — Even in his relatively short career, he’d already won some of the most prestigious Late Model stock events in the entire northeast.
At 23 years old, Joey Polewarczyk Jr. has accomplished more than dozens of drivers twice his age, including wins in the ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the prestigious Milk Bowl at Vermont’s Thunder Road.
On Sunday, the Hudson, New Hampshire driver captured his biggest victory of all.
Polewarczyk powered his way around the outside of Wayne Helliwell Jr. on lap 182, then pulled away to win the 39th annual TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway.
Polewarczyk led the first 135 laps before pitting under caution for tires. After the ensuing restart, it took just 47 circuits to regain control of the event.
In a lot of cases, the fastest car doesn’t win the race. Sunday, Polewarczyk easily had the fastest machine.
“We worked on this car all day yesterday and finally got it to where it needed to be,” Polewarczyk said. “It really hasn’t sunk in yet. This is an unbelievable feeling; I’ve been coming to this race since I was seven years old, just watching from the stands. I can’t believe I’ve won it.”
Nine-time Oxford champion Jeff Taylor has won about everything you can win around northeastern short tracks, but the 250 winner’s trophy has eluded him.
He was a factor all race long Sunday, and finished second to Polewarczyk. His machine was super-fast, but it will take at least one more try for Taylor to capture the mid-summer classic.
“This is only our second race of the season, but obviously a huge one for us,” Taylor said. “To finish second to one of my customers like Joey who is such a class act, we couldn’t have asked for a better day. This says a lot about our crew, for not racing all the time they did an awesome job. We were able to beat everybody out of the pits, and we haven’t made a pit stop since last year. I’m very happy with this run.”
Austin Theriault was among the pre-race favorites, thanks to several successful runs in ACT tour shows and his experience running as a development driver for Brad Keselowski Racing in Super Late Model action in the South. After two visits to pit road for service, the youngster from Fort Kent charged back to secure a solid third place finish.
“I’m so proud of my guys tonight,” Theriault said. “We played some strategy games about midway through the race. That’s why we were headed toward the back and had to work our way back through the field. The car was very good late in the race; to finish third again is frustrating but we know it is good given the competition here. I’ll be back next summer to take another crack at it.”
Helliwell Jr. led 46 laps but settled for fourth at the finish, while current Oxford point leader Travis Stearns completed the top five. Finishing sixth through 10th in the 250 were Dave Farrington Jr. of Jay, Canadian sensation Patrick Laperle, local hotshoe TJ Brackett, two-time race winner Eddie MacDonald and Vermont veteran Brent Dragon.
This was one of the cleanest 250s in many years, completed in record time. With only three cautions to slow the pace, the leaders were lapping cars at an alarming rate. Fifteen cars of the 39 starters completed all 250 laps, while all but three were running at the finish.
Polewarczyk earned an impressive $45,500 for his efforts, comprised of $25,000 for the win and the balance accumulated at $100 per lap led.
Other notable finishers included eight-time ACT champion Brian Hoar (17th); seven-time ACT champion Jean Paul Cyr (19th); 2007 race winner Roger Brown (25th); NASCAR star and 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne (31st); and former 250 winner Larry Gelinas (38th).