Article Credit: Jason Lubin
After two consecutive runner-up finishes on American Canadian Tour Wayne Helliwell Jr. was not the bridesmaid in round three of the 2012 season. Dominating the second half of the FOX 101.5 Spring Green 112 to pick up his first ever series victory at Devils Bowl Speedway in West Haven Vermont.
The Bruce Bernhardt owned team rolled into the half mile Vermont Speedbowl hoping for a better result than their 2011 mud exploration off the backstretch; which involved ankle deep mud and a tractor to remove the car. They would not be disappointed. Using the +/- passing system Helliwell would finish fourth in his heat netting +4 to start the 112 lap event from the third starting position. “We had a really balanced car right off the trailer, said Wayne. We made minimal changes throughout the day.”
Getting stuck in the wrong lane to start the race, he would fall as far back as ninth during the early stages of the event. Helliwell would work his way back to the front of the field; a lap 58 caution flag would put him door to door with fellow New Hampshire state competitor Joey Polewarczyk Jr. for the lead. Helliwell would waste little time rocketing by on the outside lane to take the top spot, a lead he would never relinquish. It wasn’t smooth sailing from there though; a near miss of spinning cars racing through heavy lap traffic brought the yellow out with fourteen laps to go. Setting up a final restart with Polewarczyk and a furious battle to the finish. Helliwell was not to be denied getting the jump on the restart and withstanding a late charge from the 97NH. He would go on to lead a race high 52 laps and take his first ever American Canadian Tour victory. “It was one of those things where you wanted to see a yellow to get out of all the traffic but at the same time the outside lane was so dominant on restarts today; I wasn’t sure it was a good thing when it came out… I knew I had to be on it for that restart, said Wayne. “This has been a long time coming… I can’t thank Bruce and the crew enough. It’s bittersweet to finally be in victory lane, i wish my family could have been here to enjoy it with us.” He laughed and said,”They get easier from here right?”
The victory was not only a first for Helliwell but also for car owner Bruce Bernhardt who has not seen ACT victory lane since working as a crew member with the famed Dave Dion 15 years ago.”It’s certainly a different experience as a car owner than a crew member, said Bruce. Words can’t describe how proud I am… We’ve come a long way from a street stock at Lee [2008 Lee USA Street Stock Champion] that’s for sure.”
With the win the Bernhardt and Helliwell duo have earned a starting position for the ACT Invitational at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway later this year. It also put Helliwell on top of the American Canadian Tour standings, as he becomes the first person since 2009 to lead the points other than eight time champion Brian Hoar.
The series takes the week off before heading to Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford Maine on May 20th. The Oxford 150 will put Helliwell’s hot streak of three top 2 finishes to the test against a strong field of 40+ cars. A track in which Helliwell openly states has been his “kryptonite” his entire racing career. “I’m not good there…I don’t dislike the place, I just can’t qualify. I had to take provisional’s for both [ACT] races last year. Once we get rolling we are decent, I mean we finished 7th in both shows but really I just call that dumb luck. It will be the true test of our program that’s for sure.”
Information on the May 20th event can be found on: http://oxfordplains.com/
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