Joey Pole Wins Close to Home at Lee by Mike Twist
Home Track hero Eddie MacDonald Finishes Second in ACT Opener
Joey Poletakes the checkers at Lee (Rick Ibsen Photo)
raced a four cylinder truck here and that is how I started in full sized racing. So it means a lot to win here. My whole family was here, my girlfriend was here…everyone was here. To win like that is awesome.”
Pole started on the second row and shadowed early leader Larry Gelinas, another former Lee
regular and one who Pole was very used to watching - but usually from the grandstands and not
from the car following him on the track.
“When I was really little, he was racing.,” said Pole. “He's a veteran and I've watched him a lot.
To race with him like that was awesome.”
Pole was right at home racing with Gelinas too. He even learned a few things.
“He didn't intimidate me, but I knew that he was better than me on restarts. He got me once on
the second restart. I learned though. I knew exactly what I did wrong.”
Gelinas eventually faded to a 13th-place finish, while MacDonald took his time to work his way
up from his third row start. He came charging late in the going though. Pole's lead, which was
as long as a straightaway, was shrinking as the laps clicked down, but MacDonald ran out of
time to catch him.
“I was hoping that he was going to get caught in lapped traffic, but there just wasn't enough
lapped traffic to hold him up,” said MacDonald. “I had saved my tires for awhile and we got
all those lapped cars between us on the last restart, so that is what killed us.”
“I flipped my mirror the other way,” said Pole. “My Dad had been telling me to save my
equipment and save the car, so I was on cruise control. Then he said that I needed to start
getting up on the wheel because the #17 was coming. That was with 20 laps to go. So I got
on it and the tires started going away. I was getting a little loose coming off the corners, but
luckily it was only 100 laps.”
MacDonald was trying to be happy with second place after the race.
“I really wanted to win this one because we missed it last year. I just want to win any big race here. But I guess second isn't so bad. Joey did a great job too and it was a good race.”
There were 51 competitors who rolled through the pit gates at Lee USA Speedway for the ACT Late Model opener this weekend. Of that group, 30 were good or lucky enough to earn a starting spot in the feature race.
And they came from all over. There were Canadians, long time ACT touring competitors and a seven-time champion in Jean Paul Cyr. There were newbies who were moving up from weekly competition at places like Vermont's Thunder Road Speedbowl or Maine's Oxford Plains Speedway.
But the two racers who stole the show were anything but unfamiliar with Lee. Both young men practically, and literally, grew up at the track. Race winner Joey Polewarczyk (commonly known as Joey Pole) watched his father Joe race there for years and then started his own career at the third-mile oval. Runner-up Eddie MacDonald's family has owned the track for a long time, so he's been around it a few times himself.
To win in a touring series in front of the home crowd was a big deal. 18-year-old Pole had won in ACT before, but his Seekonk victory of last summer came down in Massachusetts - a little further from his home base of Hudson, New Hampshire.
“It means a lot,” said Pole. “I've been coming and sitting in the stands here since I was little and watched my Dad. I even drove my quarter midget here before just as a show. I
Pole in victory lane. (Jim Dupont Photo)
The Lee race on Sunday capped off a busy weekend for MacDonald, who finished fifth in the NASCAR Camping World East Series race at Greenville-Pickens Speedway (SC) on the night before and caught a flight back home on Sunday morning
“It wasn't too bad,” said MacDonald. “We flew out of Charlotte this morning at eight and got here in time for practice.”
The ACT Late Model Tour continues its season on Saturday, April 26th at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME).
Eddie MacDonald's #17 (Jim Dupont Photo)