PHOTO: John Donahue’s battered No. 26 National Guard Ford sits on pit road at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, awaiting parts borrowed from Ray Parent’s No. 17 Amtrol car. With the spare door, Donahue drove from 11th to win his last-chance qualifier. (VMM photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson

LOUDON, N.H. — Eddie MacDonald raced his way to the pole position for Saturday’s ACT All Star Challenge at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway after winning his heat race. MacDonald, of Rowley, Mass., started from the 15th position, thus earning himself a “+14” handicap under ACT’s plus/minus handicapping system.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series regular and winner of the inaugural ACT Invitational, MacDonald made quick work in his heat, taking the lead before halfway in the 20 lap heat races, and was only shadowed by Series ACT Castrol defending champion Karl Allard as they checkers flew.

“Today’s gone really well,” said MacDonald. “We would have like to been a little quicker. We thought it was going to be pretty tough in the heat race, but luckily had a few good breaks and were able to get up to the front and take the win.”

Joey Laquerre appeared to have set up a high number early on with his “+11” after finishing sixth in his heat. As a result, the 68 year-old Laquerre will start on the outside pole.

“I had a lot of good breaks in the [heat] race,” said Laquerre. “A couple I made myself, but I was lucky.

Laquerre was involved in a crash during the test and tune day last Tuesday. His team spent the last week putting the car back together, trying to get it as good as it was during the test.

“[The wreck] pretty much wiped the whole side off. The rear axle came right out of the car. It was a lot of work. T.J. Brackett spent a lot of time putting it back together, him and Seth Holbrook. I didn’t do anything. The cars going good. Honestly, it’s not going as good as it was Tuesday, but we’ll get it. It’ll come.”

Wayne Helliwell, Jr., of Dover, N.H., will start third after qualifying through his last chance qualifying race, carrying his “+10” handicap from the heat. Austin Theriault, of Fort Kent, Me., and Donald Theetge, of Boischatel, Que., start fourth and fifth, respectively, after racing to “+9” handicaps in their heat races.

Brian Hoar, Alex Labbe, Mark Lamberton, Tom Carey, Jr., and Donnie Lashua will round out the top ten starters.

Hoar and Aaron Fellows were the other heat winners during qualifying action. Fellows will start 17th.

John Donahue won the first last chance qualifier and will start 35th after being involved in a wreck during the third heat race. Donahue’s right side door was torn off, and featured Ray Parent’s backup door during the last chance qualifier after numerous teams worked to get Donahue’s car ready for the last chance qualifier. Patrick Laperle won the second last chance qualifier and will start 29th.

While the first segment may be smooth sailing for the drivers starting up front, Eddie MacDonald made a prediction for the second segment after the field is inverted.

“You can drive these cars in so deep,” explained MacDonald about how the Late Model cars drive at New Hampshire. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s going to be a great race tomorrow, especially when they invert the field after the first segment. It’s going to be crazy for the 50 [lap segment].”

STARTING LINEUP — ACT All-Star Challenge
American-Canadian Tour — New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, N.H.
Saturday, August 13, 2011

(# – denotes rookie)

1. Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass.
2. Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier, Vt.
3. Wayne Helliwell, Dover, N.H.
4. Austin Theriault, Fort Kent, Me.
5. Donald Theetge, Boischatel, Que.
6. Brian Hoar, Williston, Vt.
7. Alex Labbe, St-Albert, Que.
8. Mark Lamberton, Mooers Forks, N.Y.
9. Tom Carey, Jr., New Salem, Mass.
10. Donnie Lashua, Canaan, N.H.
11. Jean-Francois Dery, Quebec, Que.
12. Mike Bruno, Castleton, Vt.
13. Brad Babb, Windham, Me.
14. Ricky Rolfe, Albany Township, Me.
15. Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, N.H.
16. David Michaud, Ste-Annes, Que.
17. Aaron Fellows, Croydon, N.H.
18. Karl Allard, Ste-Felicien, Que.
19. Jeffrey Labrecque, Jr., Rochester, N.H.
20. Randy Potter, Groveton, N.H.
21. # Ben Ashline, Pittston, Me.
22. Shawn Martin, Turner, Me.
23. Jacob McGrath, North Claredon, Vt.
24. Brad Leighton, Center Harbor, N.H.
25. Scott Payea, Milton, Vt.
26. Dany Trepanier, St-Edouard, Que.
27. Ray Parent, Tiverton, R.I.
28. Jamie Aube, North Ferrisburgh, Vt.
29. Patrick Laperle, St-Denis, Que.
30. Mike Stefanik, Coventry, R.I.
31. Nick Sweet, Barre, Vt.
32. # Pete Yetman, Peru, Mass.
33. Jamie Fisher, Shelburne, Vt.
34. Justin Holtom, Dunrobin, Ont.
35. John Donahue, Graniteville, Vt.
36. Mike Kenison, Lancaster, N.H.
37. Scott Luce, Strong, Me.
38. Glen Luce, Turner, Me.
39. # Dave Farrington, Jr., Jay, Me.
40. Dennis Spencer, Jr., Oxford, Me.
41. Patrick Hamel, St-Croix, Que.
42. Marc-Andre Cliche, Vallee-Jonction, Que.
43. Brent Dragon, Milton, Vt.
44. # Rowland Robinson, Jr., Birch Harbor, Me.