Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. (97NH) drives under Jeff White (50ME) in his runner-up effort in Sunday’s (5/20) Armed Forces 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway. (Photo by Eric LaFleche)

Waterbury, VT – Eight-time American Canadian Tour Champion Brian Hoar started off his title defense with convincing victories in 2012, beating out four-time Lee USA Speedway Champion Wayne Helliwell, Jr. by a collective car length in each of the first two events. The pair soared far above the field and looked to be gearing up for a two car battle for the 2012 ACT Championship. Last Sunday, May 20 at Oxford Plains Speedway it all changed.

After the ACT all-time win list leader Hoar notched the first two victories of the year, first-time winners dominated the next pair of events to carve their names into the 2012 title hunt. Helliwell shook off being second fiddle to Hoar and claimed the Spring Green 112 in commanding fashion for his first ACT win, and stole a point lead that Hoar had held for nearly three years. Coming into the Armed Forces 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway on Sunday, Helliwell had a comfortable 30-point lead over Hoar, who was still 19 points ahead of third place Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.

The storybook came unbound at Oxford when 2011 Rookie of the Year Ben Ashline rocketed to his first career ACT victory, vaulting himself from 14th to 7th in overall points, and leaving point leaders Helliwell and Hoar stuck in their own nightmare. Helliwell was forced to retire after having heating problems, leaving the #27NH car stranded on pit road in a puddle of water. Helliwell watched his point lead dwindle helplessly from the infield. Hoar tried to capitalize on the rare stumble, but struggled with tires all day and even went a lap down to a merciless Ashline before spinning out late in the race. He would eventually salvage a 13th place finish, Helliwell was credited with 30th place.

This opened the door for ACT stars Joey Polewarczyk and fourth place Austin Theriault, who capitalized on the veteran’s troubles and finished second and fifth at Oxford respectively. Suddenly what looked like a two man race has turned into all out warfare from the American Canadian Tour’s top talents.

Helliwell clings to a two-point margin over the hard-charging Polewarczyk. Hoar has fallen to third place, 11 points back. Theriault rides fourth, eight points off the heels of Hoar and is now the only driver on the Tour to finish in the top ten in all four races in 2012. In a points system that awards 75 points for a win, there is no room for error for the ACT title contenders.

The American Canadian Tour now takes some time off before heading to White Mountain Motorsports Park on Saturday, June 23rd. Many of the stars will be heading to Thunder Road in Barre, VT for the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic on Sunday, May 26. It will be the first race of the Vermont State Championship Series between Thunder Road and Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven, VT. The four race series will feature the Northeast’s top late model talent vying to become the next Vermont State Champion.

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