ACTion News 4/23/08

ACTion News – Wednesday, April 23, 2008
-by Justin St. Louis

Last July, it was only a proverbial “matter of time” before young Joey Polewarczyk won his first American-Canadian Tour Late Model stock car race.  Many saw the potential for the rising star, and he delivered at Seekonk Speedway in August.  Now he’s up to two ACT wins, having dominated Sunday’s 100-lap New Hampshire Governor’s Cup race.  The 18 year-old Hudson, NH driver passed Lee USA Speedway legend Larry Gelinas for the lead on lap 10 and never looked back.  At times before the race’s final caution period on lap 66, Polewarczyk more than a full straightaway lead.

On paper, that looks a little boring, but the fact is that the battles for position throughout the remainder of the field were excellent.  Gelinas, John Donahue, Randy Potter, Cris Michaud, Scott Payea, and Eddie MacDonald put on a great show as they swapped positions, darting around lapped traffic.  However, one lapped car, the driven by Donald Theetge, set up an outside-lane mistake by Donahue, costing him a chance at a podium finish.  As Donahue and Payea ran door-to-door for third place on the previously mentioned lap 66, they split Theetge’s slowing car (the former Série ACT Castrol Champion had handling issues throughout the main event) – Payea filling the open hole on the inside lane, Donahue bravely daring to go three-wide up high.  The result was Donahue looping the National Guard #26 Ford in Turn 4, bringing out the yellow flag.

At that point, Randy Potter had broken away by a car length or two into second place, after having battled Donahue for most of the race.  Payea settled into second for the restart, followed by MacDonald, Michaud, a now-fading Gelinas, and rookie Ricky Wolf.  MacDonald and Michaud charged to the front, trading positions (and just a little paint) to complete the podium behind Polewarczyk.  Payea wound up fourth, Potter fifth.


Practice for the ACT Late Model, NAPA Tiger Sportsman, Allen Lumber Street Stock, and Power Shift Online Junkyard Warrior divisions at Thunder Road has been moved from Wednesday, April 23 to Thursday, April 24.  Pits open at 3:00pm, practice will be held from 4-7.


A tip of the hat goes to Cris Michaud, Ricky Wolf, Eric Chase, Ron Henry, and Mark Hayward on their impressive runs to start the 2008 season.  Michaud’s  third-place run started in 19th position.  Wolf, the former Lee USA Champion turned ACT rookie, won his qualifying heat and ran to a sixth place finish.  Chase drove from 13th on the starting grid to finish seventh.  Henry drove his new ex-Pro Stock chassis from the last-place, provisional starting spot in 30th to come home a solid ninth.  Hayward, who this writer admittedly knew very little about before the day began, drove home 12th in his ACT debut.

Following Hayward’s runner-up finish in his heat race, we ventured down to his pit area (which was way down in the gravel pit, miles from civilization) to become more familiar with him.  The Unity, NH racer is a veteran of Twin State Speedway in Claremont, NH, which is all this so-called journalist knew about him.  Hayward was a three-time (consecutively) championship runner-up in the Pro Late Model division at TSS, and had only raced at Lee USA Speedway once in his career.  He took ten laps of practice that day before crashing out of the park – quite literally, as in over the concrete retaining wall.

“We just want to come out of here today without looking like idiots,” joked crew chief Forrest Smith.

Mission very much accomplished.

Hayward reports that he’ll try to bring his A-1 Siteworks/Smith Bros. Siteworks #81 Chevrolet to as many ACT Late Model Tour events as he can this year, and plans on being at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway for the New England Dodge Dealers 150 on Saturday.


Congratulations to Jean-Paul Cyr, who managed to salvage a very rare rough day at the races.  The seven-time ACT Late Model Tour Champion crashed hard on lap 4 to record his first DNF since his 2006 flip at the Chittenden Milk Bowl, but clawed his way to a 12th-place finish in his True Value Modified Racing Series debut.  Cyr’s power steering failed early in the modified portion of the show, and a couple of spins set him back a lap behind the leaders, but he drove what was visibly one of the fastest cars on the track during the final 20 laps.

Cyr will challenge the TVMRS squad again on his home turf at Thunder Road, at the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic on Sunday, May 25.


Did you know…?

-Seven drivers made their first career ACT Late Model Tour start at Lee USA on Sunday: Mark Hayward (12th), Larry Gelinas (13th), Chris Bergeron (15th), J.R. Baril (19th), Miles Chipman (24th), Wayne Helliwell, Jr. (25th), and rookie Nick Sweet (30th).

-Chipman’s 24th-place finish was the first ACT start by a Toyota Camry-bodied car.  Chipman was the 2007 Lee USA Rookie of the Year.

-Not one of the 30 qualified drivers in Sunday’s NH Governor’s Cup 100 finished where they started.  The biggest forward movers were Ron Henry (21 positions), Cris Michaud (16), Patrick Laperle (14), and Brent Dragon (11), while the biggest droppers were Nick Sweet (28 positions), Jean-Paul Cyr (21), Bobby Baillargeon (14), and Larry Gelinas (12).

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