MacDonald, who had fresh rubber, and plenty of gas in his tank took the lead in the Heluva Good Fall 125 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the fourth and final time at lap 124. His two wins in two visits there make his domination of the 'Magic Mile' undeniable. Even the well-financed Cup teams couldn't touch him.
“I was getting worried about halfway through. We were getting really tight, but my crew chief Rollie LaChance had me come in and put some tires on. That worked out perfect. It was exciting towards the end. All the guys raced me clean and the car was really good on the outside in those last five or ten laps.”
MacDonald proved from the get-go that he was going to be a force to reckon with. He took the lead on the first circuit from his second row starting position and didn't gave it up to Peyton Sellers for only a single lap before coming down pit road for fuel at lap 18.
MacDonald returned to the track in the 12th spot for the restart at lap 22 and was back up front by lap 37. A long, green flag run developed that lasted more than 50 laps and MacDonald's Grimm Construction Chevrolet developed a tight condition. Brad Leighton was able to take advantage of MacDonald's car going away, and took the lead using lapped traffic on lap 77.
“Eddie (MacDonald) was pretty much done at that point. We were 2/10th's quicker on the watch. My car liked it down on the bottom, and it looked like I pinched him into lapped traffic, but in reality, I was going to go by anyway,” Leighton explained.
Leighton stayed out front for 44 laps - giving it away to Steve Park on lap 121 after he ran out of fuel and fell off the pace.
“We didn't really run out of gas, it just didn't pick it up. We've got gas in the tank,” said Leighton. “We were a few laps short. It's pretty frustrating, but the fact is these guys work hard and we were competitive. It looked like we were going to pull it off. I thought I had it in June and I thought we had it here today.”
Meanwhile, MacDonald was putting himself into position to win the race. He had pitted at lap 93 and took on fresh right side tires - a decision he said was crucial to the victory.
“That made all the difference. If we didn't take the tires we would have been a third place car at best. The car was just washing up so bad,” said MacDonald. “After the tires, we were able to get a car every other lap. I knew my car was getting worse so I knew the other guys had to be too. Everything worked out in our favor again.”
Park only led two laps before he had to change his mindset from winning to finishing.
“I gave it to him,” said Park about losing the lead. “Eddie had a fast car and he pitted for tires late. I was out of gas. We were trying to conserve fuel, but there wasn't much I could do. I tried to hang on for a good position while I was trying to conserve.”
Park finished second with point leader Matt Kobyluck took home a third place finish and extended his point lead to 192 over Austin Dillon, who finished fifth.
“I'm thrilled. To come out of New Hampshire twice in one season with third place finishes is like winning to us,” said Kobyluck. “We did what we needed to do points-wise and came out of here with the car in one piece. That's a good day.”
The entire top-three was comprised of independent teams - a point that was made over and over again throughout the weekend.
“We had three independent teams [do well] in qualifying and the finish,” said Park. “That's a credit to these teams and our team owners. They endure all the costs inflating this sport. It's getting expensive to run even in this series. We came with the best that we've got and now we're sitting up here.”
MacDonald's win also locks in the coveted New Hampshire Motor Speedway track championship for the driver.
NASCAR Camping World Series East-Heluva Good! Fall 125 Results
At New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Lap length: 1.058 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (3) Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass., Chevrolet, 125 laps, 93.097 mph, $15,050.
2. (2) Steve Park, East Northport, N.Y., Dodge, 125, $10,500.
3. (13) Matt Kobyluck, Uncasville, Conn., Chevrolet, 125, $9,100.
4. (17) Matt Hirschman, Northampton, PA, Dodge, 125, $7,500.
5. (15) Austin Dillon, Lewisville, N.C., Chevrolet, 125, $7,315.
6. (10) Joe Polewarczyk, Hudson, N.H., Chevrolet, 125, $5,800.
7. (26) Mike Olsen, North Haverhill, N.H., Chevrolet, 125, $7,300.
8. (8) Trevor Bayne, Knoxville, Tenn., Chevrolet, 125, $5,500.
9. (22) Bryon Chew, Mattituck, N.Y., Chevrolet, 125, $4,800.
10. (23) Jeff Anton, Russell, Mass., Chevrolet, 125, $5,100.
11. (20) Dustin Delaney, Mayfield, N.Y., Chevrolet, 125, $4,000.
12. (29) Max Dumarey, Gent, Belgium, Chevrolet, 124, $4,200.
13. (12) Craig Goess, Greenville, N.C., Toyota, 124, $3,500.
14. (9) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Mooresville, N.C., Chevrolet, 124, $3,876.
15. (7) Derek Thorn, Lakeport, Calif., Ford, 124, $3,100.
16. (16) Ricky Carmichael, Clearwater, Fla., Chevrolet, 123, $3,500.
17. (28) Alan Tardiff, Lyman, Me., Chevrolet, 123, $2,900.
18. (5) Marc Davis, Mitchelville, MD., Toyota, 123, $3,350.
19. (11) Jesus Hernandez, Fresno, Calif., Chevrolet, 123, $3,300.
20. (1) Peyton Sellers, Danville, VA., Chevrolet, 123, $4,796.
21. (36) James Pritchard, Wharton, N.J., Dodge, 123, $2,750.
22. (6) Brad Leighton, Center Harbor, N.H., Chevrolet, 122, $2,600.
23. (27) Ryan Duff, Hazard, Ky., Chevrolet, 122, $2,675.
24. (19) Jamie Hayes, Norlina, N.C., Chevrolet, 122, $3,159.
25. (33) Scott Bouley, Wolcott, Conn., Chevrolet, 122, $2,600.
26. (14) Jody Lavender, Hartsville, S.C., Chevrolet, 121, $3,100.
27. (32) Todd Peck, Glenville, PA., Chevrolet, 114, $2,600.
28. (25) Antonio Perez, Mexico City, Mex., Dodge, 93, accident, $2,600.
29. (4) Brian Ickler, San Diego, Calif., Chevrolet, 91, accident, $3,100.
30. (38) Ryan Black, Alta Loma, Calif., Ford, 72, brakes, $2,600.
31. (37) Jeremy Clark, Concord, NC, Chevrolet, 65, rear end, $2,600.
32. (35) Jonathan Smith, Beacon Falls, Conn., Dodge, 46, engine, 2,600.
33. (18) John Salemi, Nashua, N.H., Chevrolet, 45, vibration, $2,600.
34. (24) Alex Kennedy, Aztec, New Mexico, Chevrolet, 34, accident, $2,600.
35. (21) Mike Johnson, Salisbury, Mass., Ford, 31, accident, $2,600.
36. (30) Joe Masessa, Franklin Lakes, N.J., Chevrolet, 22, accident, $2,600.
37. (34) Jason Cochran, Marion, N.C., Chevrolet, 22, accident, $2,600.
38. (31) Laine Chase, Beverly, Mass., Chevrolet, 13, engine, $2,600.
Time of Race: 1 hour 25 minutes 14 seconds
Margin of Victory: .365 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: P.Sellers (126.437 mph, 30.124 seconds)
Caution Flags: 6 for 21 laps.
Lead Changes: 9 among 6 drivers.
Lap Leaders: E.MacDonald 1-12; P.Sellers 13; E.MacDonald 14-19; P.Sellers 20-24; M.Davis 25-27; T.Bayne 28-36; E.MacDonald 37-76; B.Leighton 77-120; S.Park 121-123; E.MacDonald 124-125.
Standings: 1. M.Kobyluck, 1810; 2. A.Dillon, 1618; 3. T.Bayne, 1585; 4. J.Hernandez, 1575; 5. M.Davis, 1508; 6. S.Park, 1482; 7. E.MacDonald, 1475; 8. R.Carmichael, 1460; 9. B.Ickler, 1447; 10. P.Sellers, 1433.