Hudson, NH’s Joey Polewarczyk Jr. scored one of the biggest wins of his already illustrious American-Canadian Tour (ACT) career by taking the inaugural Commonwealth Classic 65 at Virginia’s Richmond Raceway on Saturday, March 30. “Joey Pole” took the lead for good on lap 42 and survived a pair of bids from Dover, NH’s Wayne Helliwell Jr. en route to the victory.
For Pole, 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 the day before the event 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.
Pole 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 Pole 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 Pole to pull alongside. He then got the jump on the restart to take the lead for the first time.
It was then Pole’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 Pole 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 “Boomer” 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 Pole flew back by him a lap later to regain command. Sweet and Helliwell then got to racing for second, allowing Pole 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. But Pole was able to get clear of the traffic with a few laps to go and motored off for the win.
Lebanon, NH’s 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 still matched the best result of Dubeau’s ACT career.
Sweet ended up fourth while Rehoboth, MA’s Jake Johnson was solid all race to earn fifth. New Salem, MA’s Tom Carey III was sixth and Hinesburg, VT’s Bobby Therrien was seventh. Alex Guenette was the highest-finishing Quebec racer in eighth. Au Sable Forks, NY’s Brandon Atkins and E. Bridgewater, MA’s Ryan Kuhn rounded out the top-10.
Blainville, QC’s Jonathan Bouvrette won heat one and earned the distinction of being the first ACT driver ever to win at Richmond Raceway. Dubeau and Carey won the other qualifiers. Sweet earned the pole after coming from 12th to 4th in heat one for a +8 under ACT’s “plus-minus” qualifying system.
ACT heads to Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway on Sunday, April 14 at 1:30pm for the season’s first point-counting ACT Late Model Tour event. The Oxford Plains 150 is part of a card that also includes the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models, Honey Badger Street Stock Series, and North East Mini Stock Tour. The pits open at 8:00am and the grandstands open at 10:00am. Admission is $25 for adults, $12 for kids ages 6-12, and $60 for a family of four (two adults, two kids).
COMMONWEALTH CLASSIC 65
Pos., Start Pos., Driver, Car #, Hometown, Laps
1. ( 4 ) Joey Polewarczyk ( 97NH ) , Hudson, NH , 65 Laps
2. ( 9 ) Wayne Helliwell Jr. ( 27NH ) , Dover, NH , 65 Laps
3. ( 10 ) Rich Dubeau ( 30NH ) , Plainfield, NH , 65 Laps
4. ( 1 ) Nick Sweet ( 40VT ) , Barre, VT , 65 Laps
5. ( 7 ) Jake Johnson ( 15MA ) , Rehoboth, MA , 65 Laps
6. ( 12 ) Tom Carey III ( 5MA ) , New Salem, MA , 65 Laps
7. ( 3 ) Bobby Therrien ( 5VT ) , Hinesburg, VT , 65 Laps
8. ( 5 ) Alex Guenette ( 48QC ) , Terrebonne, QC , 65 Laps
9. ( 23 ) Brandon Atkins ( 4NY ) , AuSable Forks, NY , 65 Laps
10. ( 13 ) Ryan Kuhn ( 72MA ) , E. Bridgewater, MA , 65 Laps
11. ( 6 ) Patrick Laperle ( 91QC ) , St-Denis, QC , 65 Laps
12. ( 11 ) Jonathan Bouvrette ( 41QC ) , Blainville, QC , 65 Laps
13. ( 19 ) Mark Jenison ( 22RI ) , Warwick, RI , 65 Laps
14. ( 15 ) Mathiew Kingsbury ( 9QC ) , Blainville, QC , 65 Laps
15. ( 24 ) Alexandre Tardif ( 21BC ) , Notre Dame des Pins, QC , 65 Laps
16. ( 2 ) Jimmy Hebert ( 58VT ) , Williamstown, VT , 65 Laps
17. ( 17 ) Christopher Pelkey ( 64VT ) , Graniteville, VT , 65 Laps
18. ( 16 ) Tyler Cahoon ( 38VT ) , Danville, VT , 65 Laps
19. ( 31 ) Shawn Swallow ( 04NH ) , Lancaster, NH , 65 Laps
20. ( 26 ) Nicholas Johnson ( 6MA ) , Rehoboth, MA , 65 Laps
21. ( 14 ) Joshua Hedges ( 29MA ) , N. Bedford, MA , 65 Laps
22. ( 30 ) Marcel J. Gravel ( 86VT ) , Wolcott, VT , 64 Laps
23. ( 38 ) Marc Begin ( 37QC ) , St-Philibert, QC , 63 Laps
24. ( 8 ) John Donahue ( 26VT ) , Graniteville, VT , 63 Laps
25. ( 27 ) Jeff Marshall ( 32NH ) , Gilman, VT , 63 Laps
26. ( 22 ) Tyler Chapman ( 81CT ) , Quaker Hill, CT , 63 Laps
27. ( 33 ) CJ McLaughlin ( 04MA ) , Bellingham, MA , 63 Laps
28. ( 29 ) Blair Bessett ( 20VT ) , Barton, VT , 63 Laps
29. ( 25 ) Gerard Giordano Jr. ( 15NY ) , Freeport, NY , 63 Laps
30. ( 32 ) James Linardy ( 77MA ) , Malden, MA , 63 Laps
31. ( 35 ) Scott Coburn ( 72VT ) , Barre, VT , 63 Laps
32. ( 37 ) Jesse Switser ( 10ME ) , Whitfield, NH , 61 Laps
33. ( 28 ) Martin Goulet Jr. ( 83QC ) , St. Calixte, QC , 49 Laps
34. ( 18 ) Boomer Morris ( 13VT ) , Barre, VT , 40 Laps
35. ( 34 ) Stephen Donahue ( 28VT ) , Graniteville, VT , 40 Laps
36. ( 21 ) Jean-Philippe Bergeron ( 18QC ) , St-Donat-de-Montcalm, QC , 40 Laps
37. ( 20 ) Bryan Kruczek ( 19NH ) , Newmarket, NH , 18 Laps
38. ( 36 ) TJ Moreshead ( 00MA ) , Seekonk, MA , 13 Laps
Lap Leaders: Nick Sweet, 1-14; Joe Polewarczyk Jr., 15-40; Wayne Helliwell Jr., 41; Polewarczyk, 42-65. (3 lead changes among 3 drivers)
Time of Race: 45:52 Margin of Victory: 1.505 seconds
Cautions: 3 (laps 14, 40, 40)
Heat Winners: Jonathan Bouvrette, Rich Dubeau, Tom Carey III