OXFORD — Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., was strong early at the 39th annual TD Bank 250, leading the first 135 laps.
He was stronger when it mattered most Sunday at Oxford Plains Speedway, winning prestigous race by about a second over nine-time track champion and Farmington native Jeff Taylor.
“This is absolutely unbelievable,” he said. “Everything just kind of fell our way. There wasn’t a lot of yellows, so it helped us out that way.”
Polewarczyk led 205 laps and earned $45,500 for the victory, the largest purse since Ralph Nason took home $46,400 in 1998.
Taylor, who built Polewarczyk’s car in 2007, matched his best finish of his long career. He never led, but was never outside the top 10 either. He started seventh.
“Kind of subdued,” he said. “I guess it’s great to be second. It’s a great day. It will probably sink in a little more as the week goes on.”
Austin Theriault, whose sister, Brittany, is engaged to Polewarczyk, finished third for a second consecutive year. Wayne Helliwell and Travis Stearns finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Trevor Bayne finished four laps down and 31st overall.
Polewarczyk, 23, of Hudson, N.H., won the second of six 20-lap qualifying heats and picked up where he left off in the race. He dominated from the drop of the green flag, leading the first 135 laps by a more-than-comfortable margin.
Polewarczyk surrendered the lead to Helliwell on a lap-136 restart off the second of three cautions. Polewarczyk pitted, took four new tires but dropped to 10th when he got back on the track.
“I was starting to get loose,” Polewarczyk said. “I told my guys when I came in, ‘It doesn’t matter, we’ll lose more time if we try to go fast and make a mistake.’ They did everything right. Everything stayed on. I took four tires and we were able to get back to the front and hold on.”
Polewarczyk worked his way back to the front and grabbed the lead on lap 187. He then held off Theriault and Taylor at the finish.
“I could see him,” Taylor said. “Just keep him modest was all I could do”
Added Theriault, who gambled with a late pit stop to take two new tires, but ran out of laps to catch the frontrunners.
“The gamble didn’t quite pay off,” Theriault said. “We knew we were going to have come later and take rights. Luckily, the caution came out on (lap) 208. We gambled and it didn’t quite pay off. We knew we weren’t going to have enough time to get up to Joey.”
It was a tough afternoon for Pittston driver and last season’s pole-sitter Ben Ashline.
Ashline, 21, found an outside groove during the fourth qualifying heat and was moving up through the pack when he was bumped off the track coming out of Turn 3 along the backstretch.
“We were going two by two by two,” Ashline said, “and nobody had the lane I wanted so I set out there and was making progress.
“But then I got off the track and once you hit the dirt there’s no slowing down,and we slammed into the wall.”
The car was towed back to the pits and then loaded into the trailer after the front end damage was deemed too much to repair.
“It’s tough to swallow,” Ashline said. “I’ll spend the next 364 days wondering what I could’ve done differently.”
Ricky Rolfe earned the pole position after winning the first of six 20-lap qualifying heats from the front row.
Rolfe led the 15-lap qualifier from start to finish, but needed to fend off Taylor to take it.
Rolfe finished 24th.
Bill Stewart — 621-5640