Next month, Eddie MacDonald will seek to defend his victory in one of the biggest short track asphalt races in the country - The TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME). Merely entering the event as its latest winner places him as one of the pre-race favorites this time around, but MacDonald and his Rollie Lachance-led race team haven't just rested on their title of “2009 winners”. They've been tinkering with the car and running it at Oxford as their schedule running the full NASCAR K&N Pro Series East slate permits.
So far, those field trips to Oxford this year have been just as fruitful as last year's 250. Last month, MacDonald went to Oxford for one of two pre-250 ACT Late Model events and won. On Saturday night, MacDonald returned for the other race - and won that as well.
While Oxford and MacDonald apparently get along very well these days, that wasn't always the case. In 2005, he ran a NASCAR Busch North Series race there and was credited with a 21st-place finish after an early wreck. In 2007, he showed up for his first Late Model race at the track, an ACT show, and ended up packing up before the green flag even flew. Now, barely three years later, he's lost track of how many races he's won there.
“Four? Yeah, maybe….I think that it is four,” said MacDonald.
While at first glance, that statement might sound a bit arrogant, it really isn't. MacDonald actually takes very little credit for any of those victories. Instead, he claims the secret to his success is having Lachance, who lives just a fairly short ride down the road from the track, as his crew chief.
“We've won because Rollie's got a good set-up and I just get to drive with it,” said MacDonald. “We figured out something pretty much from day one that we came here. Even though we didn't make the first race we ever came to, but that's because we got spun out. So we've got a good baseline set-up and the car really reacts well here. We seem to do really well on flat tracks no matter what car we are running, so that seems to help out too.”
MacDonald followed in the tire tracks of defending ACT champion Brian Hoar early at Oxford. By around the 50-lap mark, MacDonald was into the second position. On lap 102 restart is when MacDonald moved into the top spot. After that, it was just a case of holding on while a number of front-runners, including Hoar and race runner-up Ricky Rolfe, were all sliding around with used-up racecars riding on used-up tires.
“We used everything up and probably raced a little bit too hard early in the race,” said MacDonald. “We weren't sure how things would go. The last few ACT races here have only had one or two yellows. So in those races, you need to stay within reach of the front pack. You can't save a whole lot because a lot of guys are going hard. So tonight we did that and used everything up. We got the value out of these tires.”
Next up at Oxford for MacDonald is the TD Bank 250 - which is set for July 18th. MacDonald will now have some extra momentum going into that event.
“It's just awesome to come out of here with another win. It's what we needed. We came here to get ready for the 250 and I don't think there is any better way to do that than to come out with a win.”
Now MacDonald is just hoping that he hasn't used up all of his winning ways at Oxford quite yet this season.
“I almost hate that we got two wins before the 250,” said MacDonald. “I hope things continue because I want to win the big ones too.”