By Jason Dempsey
When he set out to race his very first full season in the NMRA’s Coyote Modified class with his JPC Racing-backed 2013 Boss 302 Mustang, Maryland’s Jeff Polivka had just a couple of goals.
Since he’s won three races so far this season – two over point’s leader Joe Guertin and one over Johnny Lightning – and qualified at the top of the ladder at the last race in Illinois, he’s overachieved two-thirds of his goal so far. Although he hasn’t set a record with his 76 mm turbocharged combination just yet, he feels it’s well within his reach at the upcoming Nitto Tire NMRA All-Ford World Finals happening September 29-October 2 at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He credits crew chief Eric Holliday and the support he receives from the rest of the JPC Racing crew for his success with the car.
“With where we were from March to where we are now, we’re definitely going to win the championship,” he says. “We’ve put in a lot of work and a lot of time this year. That’s not a knock on Joe – he’s worked hard also – but I think we’re going to come out on top in this tough battle.”
Polivka feels he currently has an edge, as any time he’s been up against Guertin in eliminations this year; he’s been the winning racer.
But Guertin has eked out the slimmest of margins over Polivka, topping the sheet leading into the last race with a 25-point lead. Although Polivka has won three races – and Guertin just one – he earned three number-one qualifier spots over the first five races of the year.
Guertin, to his credit, has had a solid season with his ProCharger-boosted Florida-based notchback, carding three runner-up finishes, one win, and the aforementioned top qualifier slots to pad his point total.
“It’s less than one round between us. The first person who makes a mistake will give up the championship,” says Guertin. “If we do it right and both make it to the final round, it’s going to be what the fans in the stands are looking for – the winner of the race is going to win the championship.”
Guertin is cool as a cucumber; he has no intentions of trying to determine all of the possible points scenarios lest he psych himself out. The plan? Load up, head to Kentucky, run his race, and head back to Florida with the class championship.
“We’re both going to do our best to go one round farther than the other, because it’s going to come down to that in the end,” he says. “You’re going to watch me win the championship in Bowling Green.”