Twelve months ago, Eddie MacDonald failed to qualify for the prestigious Milk Bowl Late Model event at Vermont’s Thunder Road International Speedbowl.
Earlier this week, MacDonald didn’t even think he’d be racing in this year’s edition of the Milk Bowl.
With poor Milk Bowl results in the past and a scheduling conflict on his plate, MacDonald eventually made the decision to give the Milk Bowl one more shot. That decision proved quite profitable for the Rowley, Massachusetts driver.
MacDonald won the first 50-lap segment Sunday, finished fifth in the second and eighth in the final to give him a combined three-segment score of 14, which earned 34-year-old the $10,000 victory and the chance to kiss the track’s trophy queen, a local dairy cow, in victory lane.
“We weren’t really sure (if we were going to come to the Milk Bowl),” MacDonald told Speed51.com powered by JEGS after the race. “We kept going back and forth because we really wanted to run Lee, our home track, and we’ve really struggled so bad here in the past.”
MacDonald had previously planned to compete in the Lee USA Speedway (NH) Oktoberfest Late Model race Sunday, but when last week’s Milk Bowl at Thunder Road was postponed to the same day, MacDonald was left with a difficult choice. Considering MacDonald missed the Milk Bowl in 2013 and the fact that his family owns and operates Lee, MacDonald’s decision to return to Thunder Road was even tougher.
In the end, MacDonald was pleased with his choice.
“You like a challenge, but coming from last year to this year is just great,” said MacDonald. “Freddie Peterson, the car owner, he really loves his place and talked us into coming. I’m glad he did now. Rollie LaChance (crew chief) did a great job. He’s always wanted to win this one, so all three of us were really going after it and it paid off.”
MacDonald added the Milk Bowl to an impressive resume in American-Canadian Tour events that already included two Oxford 250 wins and three ACT Invitational victories at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. To do so, he had to keep Derrick O’Donnell and John Donahue within sight. O’Donnell, the 2014 Thunder Road track champion, was three points behind MacDonald and Donahue was five back.
While the three overall leaders ran with one another most of the final segment, MacDonald did his job by finishing fifth and earned his first career win at Thunder Road.
“I was driving really hard, but I was also trying to keep it really smooth because the tires were pretty worn out,” said MacDonald of his third segment strategy. “Just hanging on trying to not spin them and let John (Donahue) get up underneath it. He was right there a couple times, so I just wanted to make sure we stayed ahead of him. That was the whole plan.”
After such disappointment in the past at Thunder Road, MacDonald’s excitement about winning his first Milk Bowl was tempered a bit when he realized he had to give a celebratory kiss to the cow in victory lane. While some drivers in the past have gone in with different strategies for the kiss, MacDonald kept it to a mere peck on the cow’s nose.
“I’m not a big of the kissing the cow thing but it’s pretty cool.”
O’Donnell , Donahue, Scott Dragon and Cody Blake had the third through fifth-highest overall three-segment scores to be credited with those positions behind MacDonald.
Besides MacDonald from the first segment, other segment wins went to Jimmy Hebert in the second and Brad Babb, subbing for longtime track regular Joey Laquerre, in the third.
– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director. Photo credit: Speed51.com