BARRE, Vt. – If you think sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway is frustrating, you should have tried driving at Thunder Road International Speedbowl on Sunday.
2010 track champion Nick Sweet and ACT Late Model Tour championship hopeful Joey Polewarczyk Jr. waged a race-long battle while bottled up in heavy lapped traffic, with Sweet emerging as the true "King of the Road" once again. Sweet took the lead for good on Lap 92 and never looked back in winning the Merchants Bank 150.
It was Sweet's second consecutive win in the event and came on the heels of his "King of the Road" season a year ago – the title affectionately planted on the track's Late Model champion.
"Not really," Sweet said of growing tired of racing in such tight quarters. "I grew up racing here. You've got to learn patience when you race here. You could race two guys who are three-tenths slower than you in front of you, and you just gotta ride. You've just got to prepare yourself for that.
"If you do that, you're going to get good results, just like we did today."
Sweet started in the eighth position, but he'd quickly slipped into the second spot by the time the race was 50 laps old. Meanwhile, Polewarczyk shot to the lead on Lap 4 and set sail – at times leading those chasing him by more than a full straightaway.
But that was when his No. 97 was blessed with open race track. The race went green for the final 141 laps following an early caution period – leaving precious little of that open track where Polewarczyk was so good.
Polewarczyk found himself behind three rows of would-be lapped traffic on Lap 70, and Sweet started cutting huge chunks out of his deficit while Polewarczyk tried navigating through.
"It's hard," Polewarczyk said. "I caught myself. Last time (at Lee USA Speedway), I found that I wasn't that patient when I was in the middle of traffic and I got myself into trouble. I had two cars two-by-two in front of me and I started trying to push the envelope.
"I talked to myself. 'Just calm down. He might have a better car, but let's try to make the best out of it.'"
Sweet had a better car than anybody by far.
When he faced the same predicament Polewarczyk had earlier in the day – coming up rows upon rows of traffic himself just 45 laps from the finish – he was a little more able to get through and restore some breathing room.
"I was trying to conserve when I got out to that early lead, and he was running me down," Polewarczyk said. "I started pushing it even more – but he just had a better car today."
Behind he and Polewarczyk, John Donahue finished third, with Patrick Laperle fourth and Brian Hoar in fifth. They were the only cars to finish on the lead lap.
It was Donahue's second Top-3 finish is as many races, unofficially giving him the early points lead after two events.