CONCORD, N.C.: Paige Polyak doesn’t care that she doesn’t have an unlimited budget or dirt-track cred of the World of Outlaws stars.
She isn’t intimidated. Running against the best in a high-profile event like the Can-Am World Finals is her passion.
That, and a little bit of speed, showed through Friday night at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. Polyak won the opening heat race, holding off Sheldon Haudenschild to make the first Dash, where she finished fifth and will start ninth in the A-Main.
“This means a lot,” Polyak, 24, said. “We’ve had an up-and-down season with blowing a motor early. We built our confidence for next year, and hopefully, we run well in the A-Main tomorrow.
“We always look forward to coming down here. I love the racetrack. It’s fast, and you keep up your momentum. Every car is pretty stout, but we never doubt coming here. I just love it and want to come back.”
Afternoon showers delayed the start of Friday’s program. Officials couldn’t start the Modified, Late Model, or Sprint Car main events before the midnight curfew, which postponed the events to Saturday afternoon.
Pit gates open at 10 a.m. Saturday, with the grandstand opening at 1 p.m. Hot laps are slated to go off at 1:30 with the rest of the Friday program to follow. The opening ceremonies for the Saturday program are scheduled for 4:45 p.m.
Polyak started on the pole and got the jump on Sheldon Haudenschild at the start. She held a slight lead over Haudeschild for the first four laps before opening up a 10 car-length advantage by Lap 6.
Things got dicey in the closing laps when Polyak got over the cushion in Turns 3 and 4. Haudenschild closed but couldn’t make the pass and settled for second.
“It was really critical to get the jump on Sheldon to get a clean entry into Turn 1,” Polyak said. “If I do that, I should be able to pull away a little bit.
“Then, I messed up there on the cushion. I drove in a little too hard and got antsy, but I got lucky that it worked out.”
Tim Shaffer, Ian Madsen, Aaron Reutzel, Spencer Bayston, and David Gravel also won heat races. Shaffer and Reutzel won the dashes and will start on the front row of Saturday’s afternoon main event.