PHOTO: John Donahue is riding a hot streak to Oxford — one of his favorite tracks — this weekend. (Alan Ward photo)

–by Ricky St. Clair

OXFORD, Me. —Four starts, four podium finishes.

To consider ‘Irish’ John Donahue on a tear during the young 2011 season is an understatement.

The Graniteville driver is fresh off his second career victory in Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl’s Memorial Day Classic last Sunday. That, after collecting three consecutive podium finishes in the first three events on the American-Canadian Tour.

‘It’s a solid start to the 2011 campaign,’ Donahue said after finishing second in the ACT’s inaugural event at Devil’s Bowl Speedway two weeks ago. ‘You’ve got to have solid finishes to be competitive with [point leader Brian] Hoar. They’re on their game, and it seems like we’re starting to get on our game too.’

The 2010 ACT fourth-place point finisher credits his early success in 2011 through veteran patience he’s gained as a racecar driver.

‘I’m thinking more as a veteran driver. We’re starting to think more in terms of driving races in the long run as opposed to the short run,’ Donahue noted.

And don’t think Donahue and the No. 26 National Guard Ford team’s consistent effort will go away anytime soon. On Saturday, ACT heads to Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine, a track where Donahue has had success throughout his career in multiple divisions.

Donahue, who raced weekly at Oxford a decade ago, owns six career wins at the track including a 100-lap ACT-type Late Model win in 2007; he finished third in the TD Bank 250 two years ago.

‘I’m real excited to go back to Oxford. That’s one of my favorite tracks. I’ve had a lot of laps around there,’ an excited Donahue said. ‘I like the track, it’s really forgiving. You can run down low, in the middle, or the high grove. You can run where your car wants to run.’

Donahue and car owner Kendall Roberts decided to make the trip over to Oxford a week before the original date for this weekend’s Big Jab 150 (the race was pushed back by rain from May 15) for an open practice session at the 3/8-mile, semi-banked oval.

‘We could have gone down to Canaan’s big race they had for $5,000-to-win, but the car owner asked me if I wanted to go over there to test some stuff,’ Donahue said. ‘I’d rather test new stuff on a practice day where you can try it, and if it doesn’t work you can take it back in and make adjustments. It actually worked out for us.’