Race winner makes thrilling three-wide pass on late race restart to take second straight win
–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
LOUDON, N.H. – Eddie MacDonald faced some major hurdles for the eighth annual Bond Auto Parts ACT Invitational.
No driver has ever won from a starting spot worse than 27th. He started 31st. He has never won an ACT Invitational in an even numbered year. It is the year 2016. No driver has ever moved more than 29 spots from their starting spot. He would need to move 30.
MacDonald achieved all those to earn his fifth win in the non-point counting race during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It was his second straight win in the event, too.
“I can’t thank my guys enough for giving me a great car,” MacDonald said. “Luckily for cautions as that was really the only chance we had to contend for the win. Other than that, Jimmy (Hebert) was going to run away from it.”
“We got a couple of breaks and then they just kept coming. It was definitely good to have a few chances on the restart and luckily my car was good on the restarts.”
The winning move for the Rowley, Mass. driver came on a lap 45 restart that saw MacDonald go from third to first as he jumped to the inside of leader Jimmy Hebert and second place Bobby Therrien into turn one.
“I knew that (the restart) was my only chance,” MacDonald said. “Once (Hebert) got a couple of laps on us, he could run away with it. I knew I had to have a good restart.
“Luckily everything worked out perfect on that restart.”
MacDonald used an early race restart to make a daring four-wide move down the frontstretch that saw him gain nearly a half dozen spots.
“The restarts are the best time to gain spots,” MacDonald said. “It’s a lot of risk so you have to be careful to not overdo it. But, still move forward. Luckily we were able to make it stick.
“My car was really good high or low. We were able to make that pass and get by a few cars and that’s what we needed to do. We figured starting 31st that we would have to pass quite a bit of cars on restarts.”
After MacDonald’s quick march, he settled in through a long green flag portion from lap nine to 35 that saw him get to the fourth spot by lap 25, but made little forward movement after that. He rode in the fourth spot through lap 43 – including a caution flag on lap 35.
“We struggled coming through the field toward the end,” MacDonald said. “We got up to fifth and I wasn’t making as much ground as I would have hoped.”
The win for MacDonald was the ninth of his racing career at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with five American-Canadian Tour wins, three NASCAR East Series wins, and one Pro All Stars Series win.
Hebert, of Williamstown, Vt., settled for second after he led all but one lap during the first 45 laps of the race. Alex Labbe of St-Albert, Que., made a late race charge from sixth on the lap 45 restart to finish third. Dillon Moltz of Waterford, Conn. charge through the field early from a 26th place start to finish fourth while Therrien of Hinesburg, Vt. ran inside the top-five for the entire 50 laps and finished fifth.
Tom Carey III continued his father’s run of top-ten finishes with a sixth place result while Rowland Robinson Jr. challenged Jimmy Hebert for the lead early from a 15th place starting spot – including leading lap 10 – to finish seventh. Pitkat faded late but held on to finish eighth while Joey Polewarczyk Jr. also made a daring four-wide move similar to that of MacDonald’s to finish ninth. Ray Parent posted his first top-ten finish since his 2012 win in the Invitational with his tenth place finish.
VMM will have more from the Bond Auto Parts ACT Invitational soon.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – Bond Auto Parts ACT Invitational
New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, N.H.
Saturday, September 24, 2016
1. (31) Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass.
2. (2) Jimmy Hebert, Williamstown, Vt.
3. (30) Alex Labbe, St-Albert, Que.
4. (26) Dillon Moltz, Waterford, Conn.
5. (4) Bobby Therrien, Hinesburg, Vt.
6. (13) Tom Carey III, New Salem, Mass.
7. (15) Rowland Robinson Jr., Steuben, Maine
8. (12) Woody Pitkat, Stafford, Conn.
9. (28) Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Hudson, N.H.
10. (25) Ray Parent, Tiverton, R.I.
11. (24) Jean-Francois Dery, Quebec, Que.
12. (10) Josh Masterson, Bristol, Vt.
13. (11) Ray Christian III, Norwich, Conn.
14. (21) Dany Trepanier, St-Edouard, Que.
15. (18) Mike Ziter, Barre, Vt.
16. (3) John Donahue, Graniteville, Vt.
17. (39) Joel Monahan, Whatley, Mass.
18. (19) Adam Gray, Granby, Mass.
19. (1) Kyle Welch, Newport, N.H.
20 (5) Jeff Marshall, Guildhall, Vt.
21. (7) Tyler Cahoon, St. Johnsbury, Vt.
22. (40) Patrick Cliche, Levis, Que.
23. (20) Bucky Demers, Cornish, N.H.
24. (14) Matt Anderson, Franklin, N.H.
25. (33) Brian Tarbell, Springfield, Vt.
26. (34) Jean-Pierre Ouimet, Terrebonne, Que.
27. (38) Simon Roussin, Quebec, Que.
28. (37) Jimmy Linardy, Somerville, Mass.
29. (32) Ricky Roberts, Washington, Vt.
30. (36) Jim Zullo II, Claremont, N.H.
31. (9) Chris Riendeau, Ascutney, Vt.
32. (27) Jonathan Bouvrette, Blainville, Que.
33. (22) Brad Babb, Windham, Maine
34. (17) Aaron Fellows, Croydon, N.H.
35. (16) Brian Tagg, Oxford, Mass.
36. (35) Mark Jenison, Warwick, R.I.
37. (6) Ryan Olsen, North Haverhill, N.H.
38. (29) Nick Sweet, Barre, Vt.
39. (8) Quinny Welch, Lancaster, N.H.
40. (41) Donald Theetge, Boischatel, Que.
41. (23) Patrick Laperle, St-Denis, Que.
PHOTO: Eddie MacDonald celebrates his fifth Bond Auto Parts ACT Invitational win on Saturday evening at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)