Northern Points: Pro All Stars Series, American-Canadian Tour Seasons Start In Earnest This Weekend

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After the smiles faded from victory lane and the breeze that belted teams and fans relentlessly for hours finally subsided, there was a collective sigh of relief from a remote area in the back corner of the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park pit area on Sunday afternoon.

For the most part, barring a couple of minor scrapes and bruises, Pro All Stars Series teams had escaped the fast, high-banked .625-mile track unscathed. And they could begin focusing their attention on the meat of the PASS North Series schedule.

RacedayCT Northern Points Green 280“(Thompson) is fast, and I love it, but all a guy has to do is come down half a lane and he blocks your whole momentum and you’ve got to get back in line and start over,” said four-time PASS champion Ben Rowe, who finished fifth in the Icebreaker 75. “When you do wreck a race car, you wreck a race car bad here. Everybody fights for the same lane — and it’s not just us. We’ve got full bodies and we bounce off a little bit, but if you watch the SK (Modifieds) and the Tour Mods, they really wad some cars up.

“It’s fun here, but I’m glad it’s over.”

Rowe, of Turner, Maine, was comfortable with likening Thompson to the series’ version of Daytona — the big, unpredictable track that kicks off the season before teams ultimately head the next week to a place more indicative of the type of racing they will do all season long.

This Sunday, PASS returns to Oxford Plains Speedway, which has inarguably moved into the central role for Super Late Model teams. Not only does the track host four points races — nearly a quarter of the schedule — but it’s also the site of the prestigious Oxford 250. There’s little doubt that the Speedway Homes 150 will tell teams and fans how this season could play out.

A number of teams held their best cars out of competition at Thompson, saving them for Oxford. Defending Oxford 250 champion Glen Luce of Turner, Maine, debuted a brand new car at Thompson, but his Oxford 250-winning car sat at home ready for this weekend. After winning the 250, Luce went on to win the following weekend in Canada and finish third — after starting outside the top 25 — in the season finale at Oxford.

FIRST ACT: On the doubleheader card Sunday at Oxford is the American-Canadian Tour Husqvarna 100, the first race of the 2016 season for the Late Model series. Their original season opener, scheduled for Lee USA Speedway last weekend, was postponed by weather.

Wayne Helliwell Jr. of Dover, New Hampshire, is the reigning series champion. Helliwell won four times in 2015 en route to his third ACT title, and he posted two top five finishes at Oxford.

Helliwell finished second to Joey Polewarczyk Jr. of Hudson, New Hampshire, in the season opener at Oxford a year ago. Helliwell qualifed sixth for the 2015 Oxford 250 in his Super Late Model, leading a race-high 145 laps before finishing seventh.

Helliwell likely won’t have Polewarcyk to chase on Sunday, but he will be chasing a couple of Polewarczyk’s cars.

Ryan Olsen, son of two-time K&N Pro Series East (formerly the Busch North Series) champion Mike Olsen, of Haverhill, New Hampshire, will be driving for Joey Pole Racing in 2016. Polewarczyk will also have his hands on the No. 9x of Emily Packard, the East Montpelier, Vermont, driver who is competing part-time in ACT after finishing fourth in the standings a year ago.

“We had some really good runs (at Oxford), and I really enjoy racing there,” Packard said. “Last year was my first time there, so it was unknown as to how we would run.”

Polewarczyk’s influence should only help: the former Oxford 250 winner swept both ACT events at the track last season.

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