–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
GROVETON, N.H. – Eddie MacDonald may have entered Speedway 51 with some worry that his repaired car may not be exactly the same as it was prior to the final lap wreck at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
After Saturday night, he might think it’s even better.
The Rowley, Mass. driver dominated the second half of the Central Asphalt Paving Generation Next 151 and claimed his second ACT Late Model Tour win of the season.
“The car was really good tonight,” MacDonald said. “It was a lot of fun to drive.
“Just about every time we come here, (crew chief) Rollie (LaChance) and the guys give me a great car. Tonight, it was a really good car.”
MacDonald started the 151-lap feature event in the seventh spot and had made his way into the third spot by lap 25. The eventual race winner then rode in that spot until he moved around Brandon Atkins for the second spot on lap 65. MacDonald would then reel in race leader Nick Sweet and made the pass for the win on lap 77.
MacDonald would then run out to a sizeable advantage to claim the win by nearly a half track in the caution free race.
The win for MacDonald comes two weeks after a disappointing event for the Freddie and Shirley Peterson-owed team at Devil’s Bowl Speedway that saw him pilot a backup car to a 17th finish after their primary car was damaged in a last lap wreck at New London-Waterford Speedbowl that still saw the team finish in second.
“This was definitely good after our finish at Devil’s Bowl,” MacDonald said. “We really struggled there. To come back and get a win is just what we needed.
“This was kind of my baseline for the car. We usually run well here, so we figured if the car didn’t run good tonight, then we didn’t get the car back the right way. Tonight, hopefully it will help out and get us a little closer to (point leader) Nick (Sweet).”
Unofficially, MacDonald cuts 12 points out of Sweet’s lead and will sit at 21 points as the series exits the midway point of the season.
Scott Payea around Sweet shortly after the two-thirds mark of the race and finished second. For the veteran driver from Milton, Vt., it was his first ACT Late Late Model Tour start at Speedway 51.
Sweet held on to third as he faded in the late stages of the race. The Barre, Vt. driver worked his way from a fifth place starting spot to take the lead from Atkins on lap 19 and build up a comfortable lead until MacDonald reeled him in shortly after the halfway point.
Atkins, of AuSable Forks, N.Y. led the first 18 laps of the race from a pole position start and finished fourth. Three-time and defending ACT Late Model Tour champion Wayne Helliwell Jr. of Dover, N.H. completed the top-five finishers after he started on the outside pole position. Helliwell was the final car on the lead lap after MacDonald set a blistering pace in the second half of the event.
Jimmy Hebert made his first ACT Late Model Tour start since Airborne Park Speedway in May and finished sixth. Fall Brawl winner Bobby Therrien passed the most cars as he worked from a 14th place starting spot to finish seventh. Ryan Olsen posted a career best ACT Late Model Tour finish with an eighth place finish while Mike Ziter raced home in the ninth spot for his best finish of the season. Rich Dubeau posted his third straight top-ten finish as he completed the top-ten cars.
The ACT Late Model Tour will take a near month-long break before they make their return to Seekonk Speedway for the first time since 2007 on Saturday, June 16. The race will be the second event in the Southern New England Triple Crown.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – Central Asphalt Paving Generation Next 151
ACT Late Model Tour – Speedway 51, Groveton, N.H.
Saturday, June 18, 2016
(# — denotes rookie)
1. (7) Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass.
2. (4) Scott Payea, Milton, Vt.
3. (5) Nick Sweet, Barre, Vt.
4. (1) Brandon Atkins, AuSable Forks, N.Y.
5. (2) Wayne Helliwell Jr., Dover, N.H.
6. (3) Jimmy Hebert, Williamstown, Vt.
7. (14) Bobby Therrien, Hinesburg, Vt.
8. (9) # Ryan Olsen, North Haverhill, N.H.
9. (6) Mike Ziter, Williamstown, Vt.
10. (12) Rich Dubeau, Claremont, N.H.
11. (16) Kyle Welch, Newport, N.H.
12. (10) Brad Babb, Windham, Maine
13. (17) Corey Mason, Groveton, N.H.
14. (15) Dillon Moltz, Waterford, Conn.
15. (20) # Devin O’Connell, Madison, Conn.
16. (18) Shawn Swallow, Stark, N.H.
17. (21) Bryan Mason, Stark, N.H.
18. (19) Trampas Demers, South Burlington, Vt.
19. (8) Rowland Robinson Jr., Steuben, Maine
20. (24) Claude Leclerc, Lanoraie, Que.
21. (22) Mark Jenison, Warwick, R.I.
22. (11) Oren Remick, Warner, N.H.
23. (23) Mark Hudson, Norton, Mass.
24. (13) Mike Kenison, Lancaster, N.H.
Did Not Start: Doug Laleme, Bethlehem, N.H.
1 – Eddie MacDonald (#17) passes Nick Sweet (#40) for the lead on Saturday night at Speedway 51. MacDonald would go on to win the Central Asphalt Paving Generation Next 151. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)
2 – Eddie MacDonald celebrates his ACT Late Model Tour win with the Grimm family, the owners of his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East ride. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)