OXFORD — What a difference a year makes. Just ask Wayne Helliwell Jr.

Twelve months ago, the Dover, New Hampshire, driver was equal parts frustrated, angry and despondent, he and car owner Bruce Bernhardt unable to find speed in their Super Late Model effort. Now, though, Helliwell has firmly planted himself as an early favorite for the Oxford 250 on August 28.

Helliwell rallied and caught Joey Polewarczyk at the checkered flag Sunday night, to nearly beat Polewarczyk by inches in the HP Hood 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway — one of the closest finishes in Pro All Stars Series history, a finish that was declared a tie on Monday morning by series officials. The victory was Helliwell’s second consecutive PASS win at Oxford, having won a 100-lap non-winners event at the track earlier this month, as both drivers were credited with race wins.

“With five (laps) to go, I realized what I needed to do,” Helliwell said. “I just had to walk myself through that and (slow the car entering the) turn to keep the car under us. We gained by inches and inches. With two to go, we got the nose under him and the last lap speaks for itself.”

Polewarczyk was gracious in what was originally ruled a defeat Sunday night, though he wasn’t quite convinced he’d been beaten.

“He got a good run on me on that last lap, and I probably jumped the gun a little bit too early and got to the throttle too soon and carried the nose a little bit,” said Polewarzyk, of Hudson, New Hampshire. “Man, I still thought I had a good run going to the finish line. I’m sure from his perspective he thought he won, and from my point of view it looked like I was ahead of him. That’s racing.

“It’s a tough one to lose.”

The finish was still being reviewed late Sunday night by PASS. On Monday, the series released the following statement on its website: “After viewing multiple videos and photographs and discussing it with both race teams, we decided that it was a dead heat finish. … After talking to many people, whose opinions varied equally and after trying to recreate the finish the best possible way with photos of vehicles taken at the finish line from several different angles, we have decided to call it a dead heat finish.”

Mike Landry of Oakland finished third, his best career Super Late Model finish, and DJ Shaw of Center Conway, New Hampshire, was fourth with Tracy Gordon of Strong rounding out the top five.

There were four different leaders through the first 135 laps, though the race took shape on a restart with 12 laps remaining. Helliwell was about to complete a pass of Polewarczyk in turn four when the caution came out for a spinning car on the frontstretch, forcing the hand of the two lead drivers.

Polewarczyk, whose car performed best in the outside groove, was to restart on the inside of the front row, while Helliwell, who had pinned his No. 27 to the bottom of the race track in chasing Polewarczyk down, had to restart on the outside of the race leader.

Polewarczyk was able to get away for a couple of laps before Helliwell ran him down off the final corner of the race.

“We just couldn’t roll the top — it was a little free on entry and a litle tight off. I don’t know what that was,” Helliwell said. “We were so much better on the bottom. As soon as I went to the bottom, he went to the top, and it worked out good for both of us. That’s kind of been our M.O. between the two of us on the other (American Canadian Tour), too. Lo and behold, it worked.”

Former track champion T.J. Brackett of Buckfield led the first 50 laps after starting on the outside pole, surrendering the top spot to Manchester’s Reid Lanpher. Landry followed Lanpher into the top spot 15 laps later, and Polewarczyk took command on lap 84.

He’d stay there for most of the rest of the way, surrendering briefly on a lap 139 restart to Helliwell before being caught in the final 10 feet of the race.

With the win, Helliwell feels primed for the Oxford 250.

“We haven’t shown up here with the mentality of going to win,” Helliwell said of the Super Late Model at Oxford. “We just came in here trying to see what we could do. These last two races, the car’s been extremely consistent through those runs. We didn’t make an adjustment for the 100 (on July 3), we didn’t make an adjutment today, so like I’ve said, only we can screw it up.”

This story has been updated to reflect the official decision by the Pro All Stars Series on Monday morning.

Travis Barrett -— 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC