Helliwell on Wheels
Wayne Helliwell, Jr. Gets Long-Awaited NHMS Win
Wayne Helliwell Jr. held off a hard-charging Patrick Laperle on a late restart before a seven-car crash on the backstretch brought out the final caution of the American-Canadian Tour Bond Auto Parts ACT Invitational. Deemed too dark to continue, Helliwell was determined the champion with six laps to go in the 50-lap invite-only shootout.
"This is unbelievable. I knew we had a good car in practice, but not that good," said Helliwell (Dover, N.H.), who led 20 of the 44 completed laps. "It was getting pretty hairy and tough to see out there and hard to hit your marks, so I'm glad the officials decided to call it. I think it just would have been too dangerous on that restart."
Laperle (St-Denis, Quebec) was trying to be the first Canadian driver to win the invitational event, which began in 2009. The Quebecer finished second, while three-time Invitational winner Eddie MacDonald (Rowley, Mass.) finished third. Joey Polewarczyk of Hudson, N.H., finished fourth.
"I wish I could have had a few more laps to go after Wayne," said Laperle, who started 25th. "He had a really fast car. We raced hard. It was a lot of fun, it's too bad we couldn't finish, but it was just too hard to see. "
"The car handled really good," said MacDonald, who started in 17th. "The guys did a good job getting it ready from where it was in practice. I'm really happy to get a third-place finish for this team."
Helliwell continued an odd tradition of a winning driver featuring the No. 7. Ray Parent (Tiverton, R.I.) won the 2009 Invitational in the No. 17RI, MacDonald won in the No. 17MA in 2009, 2011, and 2013, and Polewarczyk won the 2010 title in the No. 97NH car.
"That was a great battle," said Helliwell, who has now won at every track he's raced at in the state of New Hampshire. "Track position was really good, and when I needed to get to the bottom the hole opened up for me to get through. Once I got out front the car was really strong. I couldn't have asked for a better race."