PHOTO: Eddie MacDonald (right) and father Red MacDonald celebrate their second ACT Invitational win in three tries at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday. (Eric LaFleche/ photo)

–by Ricky St. Clair

LOUDON, N.H. — Eddie MacDonald had some unfinished business to take care of at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

One month ago, MacDonald had a potential victory slip away at the American-Canadian Tour All-Star Challenge at NHMS when he was forced to bow out with mechanical failures after leading a significant portion of the event.

On Saturday, though, MacDonald became the first repeat winner of the ACT Invitational by taking Saturday’s 50-lap feature event at the Magic Mile.

The Rowley, Mass., driver used two late-race restarts to set up a duel between himself and Nick Sweet. Wrecks on lap 41 for Jeff White and lap 45 for Pete Yetman punctuated the lead-swapping session between MacDonald and Sweet. Yetman, a rookie from Peru, Mass., led the opening 20 laps and was running in fifth place when a three-wide move by Brad Leighton to take away fifth place sent Yetman hard into the wall.

After the final restart, MacDonald managed to maneuver around race leader Sweet on the top side of the speedway on lap 46 to regain the top spot. The two swapped for the lead unofficially four times in the span of the final 11 laps. Sweet held the lead on the backstretch during the final lap, but MacDonald was able to pinch Sweet’s momentum off in turn four to win by a half-car length.

“Both of those restarts, I was trying to psych myself up to make sure I could drive it in there deep enough and not get too high in the marbles,” MacDonald said. “I definitely didn’t want to let another [win] get away. I felt like we had a pretty fast car in August. I just wanted to do whatever we could to try and get that win.”

MacDonald, also a three-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series East winner at New Hampshire, was apologetic to Sweet following the event for pinching him down the racetrack out of the final turn when the two drag-raced to the checkered flag.

“I can’t praise Nick Sweet enough,” MacDonald said. “He ran that thing hard. I had to drive it as hard as I could to try to keep with him. We really just got lucky at the end. I got a real good run off the corner.”

Barre, Vt., native Sweet was driving Eric Chase’s No. 40 Gary Clay Builders/Mansfield Heliflight Chevrolet for the Invitational. Sweet refused to accept MacDonald’s apology and reassured him to enjoy his victory.

“I think I would have done the same thing,” Sweet said. “He made that race track as narrow as you can make it. It was good racing. That’s what you have to do to win these races. I definitely got educated by him today. We went out there and I felt really comfortable. I drove right through the field with Eddie. It was a great race for the win. I just couldn’t quite capture that win. I guess everything comes in twos for me. Two years ago I was second to Eddie. This year we’re second again. I guess I’m getting real good at being the bridesmaid.”

MacDonald had no idea that Sweet was the wheelman behind the Chase No. 40.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t even know Nick was even in that car,” MacDonald said. “I have a lot of respect for Nick. I was trying to take his line away in turns one and three. I kind of felt really bad about doing that, but I wanted to win that race. I was going to whatever I had to do to win it.”

Oxford Plains Speedway regular Shawn Martin of Turner, Me., finished the 50-lap feature as the final podium finisher in third place. Martin passed Yetman at lap 21 led the next 11 laps of the event before surrendering to MacDonald.

Lancaster, N.H., driver Quinny Welch, who escaped a lap-1 tangle with polesitter Phil Scott, bounced back and recovered to finish fourth. Leighton drove from his 31st starting position to complete the unofficial top five.

Brian Hoar and Joey Polewarczyk Jr., dove from their 26th and 32nd starting spots, respectively, to claim sixth and seventh at the finish. Tom Carey Jr., Karl Allard, and Glen Luce completed the top ten.

The event saw seven different lead changes among four drivers. It was halted for three caution periods on laps 27, 41, and 45. The time of the race was 45 minutes and 36 seconds. MacDonald’s margin of victory over Sweet was 0.161 seconds.

American Canadian Tour — New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, N.H.
Saturday, September 24, 2011

(# – denotes rookie)

1. (25) Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass.
2. (27) Nick Sweet, Barre, Vt.
3. (6) Shawn Martin, Turner, Me.
4. (2) Quinny Welch, Lancaster, N.H.
5. (31) Brad Leighton, Center Harbor, N.H.
6. (26) Brian Hoar, Williston, Vt.
7. (32) Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, N.H.
8. (5) Tom Carey, Jr., New Salem, Mass.
9. (28) Karl Allard, Ste-Felicien, Que.
10. (11) Glen Luce, Turner, Me.
11. (24) Austin Theriault, Fort Kent, Me.
12. (3) Guy Caron, Lempster, N.H.
13. (33) Patrick Laperle, St-Denis, Que.
14. (22) Joey Laquerre, East Montpelier, Vt.
15. (23) Jeff Taylor, Farmington, Me.
16. (29) John Donahue, Graniteville, Vt.
17. (8) Scott Payea, Milton, Vt.
18. (12) Donald Theetge, Boischatel, Que.
19. (16) Jean-Francois Dery, Quebec, Que.
20. (30) Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Dover, N.H.
21. (15) Donnie Lashua, Canaan, N.H.
22. (13) Jamie Fisher, Shelburne, Vt.
23. (17) Ray Parent, Tiverton, R.I.
24. (9) Ricky Rolfe, Albany Township, Me.
25. (14) Aaron Fellows, Croydon, N.H.
26. (19) Jamie Aube, North Ferrisburgh, Vt.
27. (20) Dany Trepanier, St-Edouard, Que.
28. (10) Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton, Vt.
29. (38) Luke Hinkley, Claremont, N.H.
30. (39) T.J. Brackett, Buckfield, Me.
31. (42) # Dave Farrington, Jr., Jay, Me.
32. (36) Richard Staskowski, Hope Valley, R.I.
33. (43) # Ben Ashline, Pittston, Me.
34. (7) Dan McHattie, Cavan, Ont.
35. (35) Todd Davis, Claremont, N.H.
36. (37) Ben Lynch, Derry, N.H.
37. (18) Brent Dragon, Milton, Vt.
38. (1) Phil Scott, Middlesex, Vt.
39. (40) Mark Lamberton, Mooers Forks, N.Y.
40. (4) # Pete Yetman, Peru, Mass.
41. (34) Jeff White, Winthrop, Me.
42. (21) David Michaud, St-Annes, Que.
43. (41) Ryan Vanasse, Warwick, R.I.