Twice As Nice: Brad Babb Gets Redemption With ACT Tour Win At Beech Ridge

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Brad Babb and his team celebrate winning the ACT Beech Ridge 150 Saturday night at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — For two weeks, after a disappointing end to the most recent American-Canadian Tour race at Oxford Plains Speedway, Brad Babb had just one word on his mind: Redemption.

Babb got that and more on Saturday night at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, driving around Wayne Helliwell Jr. with less than two laps remaining to retake the lead and go on to win the Beech Ridge 150 at his home track for his second career ACT Late Model Tour victory.

Helliwell, of Dover, N.H., held on for second, while Eddie MacDonald, of Rowley, Mass., charged from deep on the starting grid to finish third.

“This is the best feeling in the world… It’s such an awesome car,” said Babb, of Windham, Maine, the 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champion at Beech Ridge. “I was determined that if we had even close to the best car, I was going to win the race. I really thought I blew it on that (last) restart, but I guess I redeemed myself — and redeemed myself for two weeks ago at Oxford.”

At Oxford, Babb had tangled with Joey Polewarczyk while racing for the lead in the closing laps. Babb felt like he had been wronged, and he vowed to make up for it on his home turf at Beech Ridge — the very same track where he, his father, Bobby Babb, and his grandfather, Robert Babb have all been crowned champions.

He made a daring move to pull down in front of Polewarzyk as the field was sorting itself out following the initial green flag on Saturday, but he never saw the reigning ACT champion again. He drove from his sixth starting spot to second in the running order by lap 27, and he took the lead away from polesitter Travis Stearns on a lap 61 restart.

Babb’s lead ballooned to more than eight car-lengths over the middle stages of the event, but he thought his sure victory was lost — despite leading a race-high 86 laps — when Helliwell motored past on a lap 142 restart.

“I was just better on the top. When I was alone, I could run the bottom better, but in traffic I had to be on the outside. I just couldn’t pinch (the car) down enough around the bottom,” Babb said. “I was thinking at that point, ‘Let’s just try to hold Eddie off.’ I knew I was going to try to do everything I could to get back by Wayne, but I was going to race him clean and with respect. When I caught him, I really didn’t know if I was going to have enough to go around him on the outside, but when I got there he gave me the lane and I kept picking away at it.”

Even Helliwell wasn’t so sure that Babb’s shot at victory had evaporated.

“I was definitely not confident, because I knew we were tight in the center,” Helliwell said. “I really had to slow myself down to try and keep it on the bottom. I thought Brad was the same kind of tight we were — and he knows this place a whole heck of a lot better than I do. He got rolling around on the top, and I wasn’t going to use him up or try and take something we didn’t deserve.”

Settling back in, Babb drove around Helliwell on the outside on lap 148, taking over the lead by the time the duo pulled off into turn three.

“When I got back outside of him, I couldn’t believe I could drive back around him like that,” Babb said.

MacDonald, after qualifying through the consolation rounds and starting 22nd, had a front row seat for the battle up front — but not enough to get there and be a part of it himself.

“The goal was to get to the top 10 before halfway, and we were there,” MacDonald said. “Without too many yellows, it made it tough to keep going. I think everyone had burned up their tires tonight, and we definitely did coming from the back. It was a good race to watch between those guys.”

The ACT championship battle took an strange twist when Polewarczyk, who was running second at the time, was caught up in contact between two lapped cars with 10 laps remaining. He had to pit under caution to repair damage to his right front and returned to salvage an eighth place finish.

Unofficially, it represented a 15-point swing atop the standings, with Helliwell emerging with an eight-point lead. Halliwell and Polewarczyk each have four wins this season.

But the night belonged to Babb, the only driver not named Helliwell or Polewarczyk to win an ACT race this season. Babb also won at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vt., in May.

“It’s huge — and not just to beat (Helliwell and Polewarczyk), but I had to drive around Wayne to do it,” said Babb, whose only other full-time ACT season came in 2010, when he posted just one top-five finish in 12 races. “It wasn’t like we just had a big lead and held on, so that makes it even more sweet to be out here (in Victory Lane).”

Stearns ended up finishing fourth, with Rowland Robinson of Steuben, Maine rounding out the top five. Dave Farrington, Jeff White, Polewarczyk, Jimmy Hebert and Kyle Welch completed the top 10.

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