Polewarczyk Ready To Add To Resume

HUDSON, N.H. — Joey Polewarczyk Jr. has come a long way since he first visited New Smyrna Speedway five years ago.

That ill-fated trip to Florida Speedweeks in 2006 saw the team lost on its way to the track itself, stuck in the mud for hours on end and with flat tires and engine issues on the motorhome they were driving south. And then there was race week itself, an grueling nine-night event billed as the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing that runs in conjunction with Daytona 500 week up the road at Daytona International Speedway.

Polewarczyk’s car went through three motors in just a matter of days, forcing the team to piece together a fourth engine from spare parts that weren’t ruined just to finish out the week.

“We used to joke about why we even bothered to go back,” Polewarczyk said this week.

But fast-forward to 2011, and Polewarczyk heads to the World Series as one of the bonafide favorites to win the inaugural ACT Goodyear Speedweeks Cup — a pair of 100-lap main events for the ACT Late Model Tour on Sunday, Feb. 13 and Monday, Feb. 14.

“I liked it right off. It’s a track I really took to when I got there,” Polewarczyk said. “I’ve been there twice now, and I probably had the worst possible luck. Hopefully, I’ve had all the bad luck I’m going to have.”

There’s little doubt that Polewarczyk finished off 2010 as one of the hottest drivers in the entire northeast. He won three ACT Tour events, including the season finale at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl, to finish second in the overall standings. He also won the second annual ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the prestigious Milk Bowl at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vt., and a 75-lap Late Model event at Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway.

Virtually all of Polewarczyk’s 2010 success came in the second half of the season, and he’s champing at the bit to continue on that roll.

“Toward the end of the year, that’s when all the big races were,” Polewarczyk said. “Our team realy stepped and we capitalized on them. This race (at New Smyrna) might not have the history of a Milk Bowl or be as big of a stage as New Hampshire, but this could be the start of something for the future, who knows?

“It would be cool to get our name on the first Speedweeks win for the ACT Tour. It’s definitely a big deal to us.”

Polewarczyk is driving the same No. 97 Pole’s Automotive/NH Precision Ford Fusion that he competed in last season. It’s the same chassis he took to Speedweeks in 2008, and it’s been untouched over the winter.

“Everything’s the same. Nothing’s different,” he said. “It’s the same car — the setup is obviously different for the track — and the same group of people. We just figured it was so good last year that we weren’t going to touch it until something needed to be touched.”

The starting field for both races is expected to be 28 strong, but Polewarczyk is among a select few drivers with on-track experience at New Smyrna. Polewarczyk, Patrick Laperle and Eric Chase are the only drivers entered who have raced at the facility.

“I think that’s a bigger advantage here than most places we go, because I don’t think we’ll have a lot of practice time,” Polewarczyk said.

“It’s a fast track. I think the cars will go really good there. You’re not going to have to use a lot of brakes there, but I also think that if you have to start in the back, you should be able to go to front.”

Teams will qualify through heat races for the first 100-lap event, but the starting field for the second race will be an inversion of Sunday night’s finishing order. Green flag is slated for 7:30 p.m. both nights.