Performing in the clutch is what seperates a winning driver from the rest of the pack. Flexing muscle at the right time is something that true talents posess. Often luck plays a big role in winning versus losing, but being able to squeeze just enough strength out at the perfect opportunity is what separates winners from losers. Performing in the clutch doesn't necessarily mean winning, however; it's all about making the most from what you've got.
That's why Quarter Master, providers of winning clutches & driveline components to racers from Super Speedway to the Bullring, from IRL to Rally, from NASCAR to the "Weekend Warrior," is proud to honor a weekly "Clutch Performance of the Week" from the short track ranks of America. Each week, an esteemed panel of short track industry insiders will vote on which drivers came through in the clutch. The driver or team with the most votes will then be the "Clutch Performance of the Week." At the end of the 2010 season, the driver or team that received the most votes throughout the season will then be the "Clutch Performer of the Year" and will be awarded a clutch kit from Quarter Master, valued at $3,500 - just like the 2008 Quarter Master Clutch Performer of the Year winner Eddie MacDonald and the 2009 winner Jeff Fultz.
This week's "Quarter Master Clutch Performance of the Week" goes to ...
#97 ACT Late Model
The Milk Bowl is a unique race in the ACT Late Model world. It's currently a non-points event, so everyone goes for broke. It's the biggest race on the schedule and the most historic one as well - pre-dating even the Oxford 250. There's plenty of pressure to win the show.
Oh, and did we mention the format of the race? The event is split into three segments totalling 200 laps this year. Between each segment, the field is inverted. The driver with the lowest score at the end of the day wins the big race.
Joey Pole has been trying to win the Milk Bowl for five years and each time, he's come heartbreakingly close. The young New Hampshire racer has won three pole positions for the race, but spins, wrecks and bad luck had kept him out of victory lane.
That wasn't the case on Sunday though. Pole broke through to win the event by a whopping eight points and took the victory in the race for the first time in his career.
That performance allowed Joey Pole to be named as this week's winner of the Speed51.com / Quarter Master Clutch Performance of the Week award.
This week's race for the Quarter Master award was a classic one. As the votes started coming in, Pole took the early lead. Then, TJ Reaid would get a few more votes and take over the top spot. It truly ended up coming down to one vote coming in to put one driver on top and then the next vote tying the game up for awhile. Eventually, Pole won by a single vote over a very worthy competitor in Reaid.
Here were a few voter comments about Pole's performance:
"Joey Polewarcyzk - off his New Hampshire Motor Speedway win, Pole came to Thunder Road for the 48th annual Milk Bowl, with only one thing in mind win and kiss the cow. His time trial efforts were edged out only by ACT Champion Brian Hoar which gave him outside of row one starting position. He won segment one. Came back to seventh in segment two. But his performance in segment three is what nailed it for him. With a low four points his three segment total of 12 was eight points less than Hoar who finished second."
"Tough track, tough race, tough format....but Joey Pole didn't let the pressure get to him. That's a clutch performance."
"Joey Pole in the Milk Bowl. Having started on the front row of every Milk Bowl he has run in, Pole knew this was the year to finally get the job done in winning the race. His total score of 12 for the 3 segments showed he charged to get to the front every time the green flag dropped."
Pole joins PASS South's Preston Peltier and Canadian Andrew Ranger as the only two-time winners in 2010 of the weekly Quarter Master Clutch Performance of the Week award.
Here are our honorable mentions for this week:
TJ Reaid (AA 400 / CRA) - TJ Reaid also had a strong following in this week's race for the Quarter Master Clutch Performance of the Week award. His followers made a great case too. Reaid beat a star-studded field in the All-American 400 and led every single lap of the event. He won the race in Kyle Busch's potent #51 Super Late Model - a car that seems to have been jinxed for every driver except Busch since it has been several seasons since someone other than the Cup star won in the car. The driver who did that, former PASS South champion Alex Haase may be long gone, but those who have tried and not won in the KBM equipment since then have included Brian Ickler, Josh Hamner, Colt James and Ryan Lawler - all very accomplished drivers int their own rites.
Here are a few of the voter comments about Reaid's performance:
"No contest, TJ Reaid grabbing what is most likely the last guitar to be handed out at the Nashville Fairgrounds."
"T. J. Reaid...the pressure has been on KBM the last couple seasons to get a win in their stuff with someone OTHER than KB...and T.J. gets it done!"
"T.J. Reaid [gets my vote] for wining the CRA portion of the All American 400 in Nashville against a a stout field of competitors!"
Jeff Agnew (Pro Cup) - Things weren't looking too good for Jeff Agnew went he went a lap down early in the USARacing Pro Cup event at North Wilkesboro Speedway (NC).
“I thought we were sunked and flunked and everything else,” Agnew said. “I thought it was over."
But Agnew didn't give up and came though in the clutch to win the race over Pro Cup powerhouse driver Clay Rogers. That was worthy of an honorable mention in this week's Quarter Master competition.
Bobby Santos, III (WMT) - After getting wrecked out of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race recently at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, it looked like Bobby Santos, III might be sliding out of contension for the WMT championship. But Santos maintain a slim point lead going into last Sunday's WMT Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) and extended that lead by going on to win the race. Onyl one event remains on the WMT schedule this year, so a title could now be within his reach thanks to that clutch performance.
Johnny Benson (ISMA Supermodifieds) - A bad wreck in a wicked winged Supermodified last year at Berlin Raceway (MI) came close to ending NASCAR Truck Series champion Johnny Benson, Jr. career and could have ended his life. But Benson came back fromt hose injuries to not just race again in the Truck Series, but to strap back into a Supermodified. Benson tamed that style of racecar last weekend by winning the ISMA Supermodified feature at Seekonk Speedway (MA) - a truly inspirational performance.
Dillon Oliver (PLM) - Dillon Oliver won the Pro Late Model portion of the All-American 400 last weekend and in the process earned this vote for the Quarter Master Clutch Performance of the Week:
"Dillon Oliver shows up to Nashville with T-1 Racing which is owned by Tony D'Ambrose. They often have Eddie Hoffman behind the wheel, Hoffman is a two-time All American winner and they called Oliver when Hoffman was unavailable. That's clutch."
Brett Sontag (SLM) - Brett Sontag won the National Short Track Championship at Rockford Speedway (IL) last weekend and in doing so also earned an honorable mention in this week's chase for the Quarter Master Clutch Performance of the Week award. Here is one of the voter comments in his favor:
"Brett Sontag dominating the 200-lap main event at the 45th Annual National Short Track Championships at Rockford Speedway. Sontag said that the win goes to the top of his list for the biggest wins of his career."
Quarter Master salutes Joey Pole on this week’s Quarter Master Clutch Performance of the Week award.