The old adage tells us that consistency wins championships, and Joey Polewarczyk Jr. hopes he can prove it true once again in 2010.
The 20-year-old stock car driver will have plenty of chances to find consistency on the track, committing to run the full ACT Late Model Tour season this year as well as a partial NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule. Polewarczyk, who owns four career ACT wins and finished a career-best fourth in the final 2009 standings, is looking forward to getting back behind the wheel.
"It's going to be a busy summer, for sure," Polewarczyk said. "I'm excited about it. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Polewarczyk started making waves for himself last June when he beat two-time Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart -- plus a full field of Late Models -- in the Vermont Governor's Cup at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vt. But as good a season as Polewarczyk had, it was his offseason that's been even more productive.
Polewarczyk and his family-owned No. 97 team have joined the Ford Racing family, sporting a new powerplant and body as he enters his fifth full season of ACT competition.
"I really want to focus on doing this ACT deal," Polewarczyk said. "If I do really well with Ford this year, there's no telling what kind of opportunities it could lead to with them."
Conversations with Ford began near the end of last season. Polewarczyk said he's been impressed with the manufacturer's foray into crate engines at the short-track racing level, debuting with a lone team in 2009. Cris Michaud ran Ford engines in ACT Late Model Tour and Thunder Road weekly division races throughout the year.
"It seems like it's a lot better engine than the GM engine," Polewarczyk said. "We couldn't pass it up.
"It's awesome to be with such a great company like Ford -- it's the only company that didn't take the (federal) bailout, and it's nice to be working with a good company like that that. Our goal is to win the (ACT) championship. Hopefully we'll get a couple wins along the way and do the best we can for Ford's name."
To win, Polewarczyk knows, he's got to avoid the midsummer stretch that plagued him in 2009. After a fast start to the year, his results fell off following the Vermont Governor's Cup victory. He'd like to have better consistency this time around.
"Every track you get to, you have to have a top-10," said Polewarczyk. "At your good tracks, a top-5 is what you shoot for. Patience is definitely key. Many times last year, especially the last race of the year (at Oxford Plains Speedway), I wore myself out early. Someone who was laying back came up and got me. It's better management on tires.
"You're always going to have that one bad week. It's going to happen -- you can't usually avoid it. But when you wreck the car, you've got to bring it in and fix it and try to do the best you can with it. That's being consistent and not giving up. That's basically it."
When he's not tackling the 14-race ACT slate, Polewarczyk will be in the K&N Pro Series East car for Fadden Racing. The team is owned by two-time series champion Mike Olsen.
Polewarczyk plans to run the first six races of the season, including the season opener at Greenville-Pickens Speedway on March 27. He made one start with Fadden Racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last September. Polewarczyk ran two K&N Pro Series races for different owners in 2008, posting a career-best finish of sixth at NHMS for Dave Davis.
"I think it's a great opportunity, for sure," he said. "Really, we're just doing what we can to help Mike out, and hopefully we can see what happens from there."
But Polewarczyk is also firmly focused on one thing that has thus far eluded him -- an ACT title.
"Every driver before the season starts wants to win the championship," he said. "I could have last year if we didn't slump in mid-season. Last season, mid-season was as bad as we could get, but it was our own fault.
"But last season also brought the team so much closer together. We fought through it, got better and it's going to be a good year for us."
The ACT Late Model Tour begins on April 18 at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, N.H.