-by Justin St. Louis
Bryan Kruczek set the sport of short track racing back 50 years last Friday night.
The Newmarket, N.H., driver is a leading weekly Late Model competitor at Lee USA Speedway, and is a part-time competitor with the American-Canadian Tour, most recently racing at Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine last month. Last August Kruczek was invited to test at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the inaugural ACT Invitational, and although he did not participate in the race, he was surprisingly fast at the Loudon mile.
On paper, Bryan Kruczek has proven himself a solid competitor for several years, both at and away from Lee USA Speedway. But what he did last week is simply inexcusable.
Four ACT teams that do not compete regularly at Lee USA Speedway took part in the track's Friday night NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model program: Joey Polewarczyk, John Donahue, Glen Luce, and rookie Dave Farrington, Jr. Thirteen other teams were racing in the division that night including A.J. Begin, Wayne Helliwell, Jr., J.R. Baril, Jimmy Linardy and Miles Chipman, each one a name familiar to ACT fans.
Coming to the final lap of their qualifying heat race, Polewarczyk sat in third place as Kruczek -- who came from the rear after being penalized by Lee USA officials for a three-wide maneuver that caused a wreck in the opening laps of the race -- drilled Polewarczyk's rear bumper at the start/finish line. As Polewarczyk attempted to correct his car as it slid out of control toward the infield, Kruczek hit him again, this time hard enough to lift Polewarczyk's rear tires off the track.
With his front tires turned to the right while still attempting to make the first save, Polewarczyk's car immediately shot across the track and nearly head-on into the frontstretch wall, destroying the chassis and many bolt-on parts. Polewarczyk was not hurt in the crash, but strained a leg muscle from "standing on the brake pedal" with both feet as his car careened into the wall.
But far worse than the damage done to Polewarczyk's car was the fact that Kruczek intended to cause the crash, justifying his actions with an "us-against-them" attitude reminiscent of racing's earliest, most rambunctious days. When Polewarczyk confronted him in the pit area for an explanation, Kruczek essentially told Polewarczyk he wasn't welcome at Lee USA.
"I love racing at Lee and I've never had a problem with any of the drivers when I've raced there," Polewarczyk said. "But when I asked [Kruczek] why he wrecked me, he pointed at himself and said, 'I'm running for points, you ACT boys stick to your own turf.' I was shocked. I don't want to sound like a whiner, but that wreck was totally unnecessary and I'm lucky I wasn't hurt. We had an in-car camera, and the replays are scary to watch."
Polewarczyk said that his car's chassis was bent from the front clip to the center section, and that it needed to visit a fabricator for repairs before it could return to a raceable condition. Polewarczyk, Donahue, and Luce were at Lee USA to test their Ford crate engines after having them rebuilt at Butler-MacMaster in Maine.
Donahue said he "didn't trust" any of the drivers after Polewarczyk's crash and stayed out of the way for the rest of the evening, and according to another report, Farrington's team was also involved in a shouting match after the feature event later in the evening.
With the ACT rulebook expanding over the last decade to include Late Model divisions at nearly a dozen weekly tracks in the region, ACT Late Model Tour competitors have been encouraged to support weekly events, just as weekly competitors have been invited to race with ACT at other venues. Kruczek's participation in ACT over the past half-dozen years is a prime example of the rulebook working succesfully in both directions.
But his antics need to stop now. It appears that both Lee USA and ACT are doing their part in making sure that the Kruczek-Polewarczyk incident is a one-time-only happening.
"It was an unnecessary wreck," said Lee USA Speedway General Manager Bob Watson. "Bryan races here on a weekly basis, and I like the kid, he's a good little shoe, but sometimes he gets in a little over his head."
Watson said that Kruczek was involved in a racing incident in May 2009 that warranted a probationary period lasting through the season. "It seems like almost on a yearly basis we have to sit down and have a chat with him, and he was beautiful for the rest of the season last year," said Watson. "But we can't overlook this."
Watson said that Lee USA Speedway has suspended Kruczek from competition for two weeks and has again placed him on probation throught he 2010 season.
"We hope this is an isolated incident at Lee," said ACT President Tom Curley. "ACT encourages race teams to compete throughout the season, when the opportunity exists, at all tracks that are part of the ACT rules package." Curley said. "We have enjoyed much success with various teams joining the tour regulars at our events over the years [and] there are also many positive examples of ACT teams racing at other tracks besides the scheduled ACT events. We will continue to encourage that participation for what we perceive as good for fans, race teams, and promoters."
Kruczek's suspension means that he will not compete at Lee USA Speedway when the ACT Late Model Tour arrives on June 11. It's probably a safe bet that he won't be invited to race at NHMS this September, either.
AROUND THE REGION:
Time to take a look at the top Vermonters from the past weekend...
Airborne Speedway (Plattsburgh, N.Y.): Dwight Jarvis of Ascutney was third in the Modified Racing Series 100-lap event on Saturday night. Brandon's Don Scarborough finished fourth in the Modified feature, and Swanton's Kevin Boutin was third in the Renegades.
Albany-Saratoga Speedway (Malta, N.Y.): Mike Bruno of Bomoseen was eighth in the Modified feature on Friday night with Brandon's Don Scarborough ninth.
Bear Ridge Speedway (Bradford): Rookie Dan Douville of Concord, N.H., won his first SCoNE 360 Sprint Car feature on Saturday over Robby Bodwell of Sanford, Me., and rookie Chris Donnelly of Orford, N.H. Fairlee's Adam Pierson won the Sportsman Modified race over Brian Whittemore of Florence and Travis Shinn of Groton, N.H., Topsham's Josh Harrington won the Sportsman Coupe feature over East Corinth drivers Gene Pierson and Melvin Pierson. Newbury's Jeremy Hodge took his second Limited Late Model win over Will Hull of East Montpelier and T.C. Forward of Lyme, N.H., and Josh Sunn of White River Junction stayed perfect through three features in the Fast Four division, winning over Kevin Harran of St. Johnsbury and Andy Johnson of Wilder. Bradford's Tom Placey won the Hornet race over Wilder's David West, Jr., and Steve Sheldon of St. Johnsbury Center, while Melissa King of Corinth beat St. Johnsbury's Misty Bell and Dawn Woodward of Corinth in the Hornet Queen race.
Big Daddy's Speedway (Rumney, N.H.): Josh Sunn of White River Junction was the Mini Stock winner on Sunday over St. Johnsbury's Kevin Harran.
Canaan Dirt Speedway (Canaan, N.H.): Rookie Dan Eastman of Thetford Center was third in the Sportsman Modifed feature on Friday, and Josh Sunn of White River Junction was third in Mini Stock feature. Mike Stender of South Strafford beat Tunbridge's Baxter Doty to win the Bandit feature.
Canaan Fair Speedway (Canaan, N.H.): Mendon's Chris Wilk won Saturday's Pro Stock feature, with South Royalton's Kevin Menard sixth. Hartland's Bruce Jaycox was third in the Super Street feature, and Jamie Hodgdon of Ascutney was fifth in the Pure Stocks. Thetford's Chris McKinstry won the Northeast Mini Stock Tour feature.
Devil's Bowl Speedway (West Haven): Don Scarborough of Brandon won the Modified Tri-Track Series opener on Sunday over Patrick Dupree of Saranac Lake, N.Y., and Ketih Flach of Ravena, N.Y. Don Miller of Wells won the Sportsman feature over Paul Dunham of Indian Lake, N.Y., and Chris Johnson of Malta, N.Y. Dave Emigh of Ballston Spa, N.Y. beat Milton's Cody Benoit to win the Renegade feature, with Jon Miller of Malta, N.Y., third. Milton's Chad Brown beat Brent Warren of Salisbury and Nathan Woodworth of Essex Junction to win the Bomber Warrior race. Andy Smith of South Glens Falls, N.Y., won the Duke Stock race.
Lee USA Speedway (Lee, N.H.): Graniteville's John Donahue was ninth in the Late Model feature on Friday night.
Modified Racing Series: On Saturday at Airborne Speedway, Ascutney driver Dwight Jarvis finished third, with his rookie nephew Joey Jarvis 23rd. On Sunday at Thunder Road, Joey Jarvis finished seventh with Dwight Jarvis ninth. Les Hinckley of Windsor Locks, Conn., won at Airborne, and Steve Masse of Bellingham, Mass., won at Thunder Road.
Monadnock Speedway (Winchester, N.H.): Putney's Dana Shepard was tenth in the Super Street feature on Saturday, and Joe Rogers of Ludlow finished seventh in the Mini Stocks.
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Shelburne's Kevin Lepage finished 37th at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday.
PASS South Super Late Models: Steven Legendre of Danville finished 14th in Saturday's event at Concord Motorsports Park. Rookie Andy Loden of Stanley, N.C., was the winner.
Riverside Speedway (Groveton, N.H.): Dan Sidney of St. Johnsbury was the Outlaw Sportsman runner-up on Saturday with Davey Ofsuryk of Newport Center fifth. Rookie Johanna Christman of Cabot was fifth in the Super Stock race. Brett Rowell of Concord was the Street Stock runner-up with Aaron Smith of Orleans third. Howard Switser of West Burke won the Dwarf Car race. Waterford's Lorin Vear won the Cyclone race.
Sprint Cars of New England: Lacey Hanson of Orwell was seventh in Saturday's event at Bear Ridge Speedway. Rookie Dan Douville of Concord, N.H., was the winner.
Thunder Road Int'l Speedbowl (Barre): Steve Masse of Bellingham, Mass., won the Modified Racing Series event on Sunday over Ron Goodenough of Swanzey, N.H., and Ken Barry of Preston, Conn. Dave Pembroke of Middlesex won the 100-lap Late Model event over John Donahue of Graniteville and Hyde Park's Eric Williams. Brendan Moodie of North Wolcott won the Tiger Sportsman feature over Tom Therrien of Hinesburg and Ricky Roberts of Washington. Travis Hull of Graniteville took his first Street Stock win over Williamstown's Mike MacAskill and Dan Lathrop of Hyde Park. Ken Christman of Cabot won the Junkyard Warrior race over Josh Erwin of Waterbury and Brock Parrott of Williamstown.
Twin State Speedway (Claremont, N.H.): Rutland's Dallas Trombley was the Late Model runner-up on Friday night. Chris Wilk of Mendon was the Super Street winner. Jacksonville's Kaitlin Stone won the Strictly Stock feature with Pittsford's Kyle Davis third.
White Mountain Motorsports Park (North Woodstock, N.H.): Dwayne Lanphear was sixth in the Late Model feature on Saturday. Jason Corliss of Danville was the Super Sportsman runner-up with Tucker Williams of Hyde Park third. Stevie Parker of Lyndonville was seventh in the Strictly Stock feature, and Ernie Snider of Orange won the Strictly Stock Mini race.
Friday, June 4
Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. -- 6:45pm (Spring Championships)
Canaan Dirt Speedway, Canaan, N.H. -- 7:00pm (SCoNE 360 Sprint Cars)
Twin State Speedway, Claremont, N.H. -- 7:30pm (Regular Event)
Saturday, June 5
Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y. -- 5:00pm (Regular Event)
Bear Ridge Speedway, Bradford -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
Canaan Fair Speedway, Canaan, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
Monadnock Speedway, Winchester, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
Riverside Speedway, Groveton, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
White Mountain Motorsports Park, North Woodstock, N.H. -- 5:00 (ACT Tiger Sportsman Series)
Sunday, June 6
Big Daddy's Speedbowl, Rumney, N.H. -- 4:00pm (Granite State Mini Sprints)
Devil's Bowl Speedway, West Haven -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
ACT Tiger Sportsman Series: Sat., June 5 -- White Mountain Motorsports Park, No. Woodstock, N.H. (5:00pm)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Fri., June 4 -- Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas (SPEED/8:30pm)
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Sat., June 5 -- Nashville Superspeedway, Nashville, Tenn. (ESPN/7:30pm)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Sun., June 6 -- Pocono Speedway, Long Pond, Pa. (TNT/1:00pm)
Pro All Stars Series: Fri., June 4 -- Ace Speedway, Altamahaw, N.C. (7:45pm)
Série ACT-Castrol Edge: Sat., June 5 -- Autodrome Chaudiere, Vallee-Jct., Qué. (6:00pm)
Sprint Cars of New England: Fri., June 4 -- Canaan Dirt Speedway, Canaan, N.H. (7:00pm)