“The Outlaw” did what he does best Sunday afternoon in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Massachusetts used the mixture of a perfect strategy and a fast race car to win the inaugural $10,000-to-win NAPA Blue & Gold 250 at White Mountain Motorsports Park.
Unlike many of the other contenders, MacDonald waited until a Lap 155 caution to visit pit road for a four-tire pit stop. That strategy netted him tires that were over 30 laps fresher than his competitor’s tires.
With fresh tires and a fast car, MacDonald charged towards the front and darted to the inside of Scott Payea to take the lead for the first time on Lap 193. From there, MacDonald put his No. 17 on cruise control before parking it in victory lane next to the $10,000 check and a big trophy.
“That’s awesome. We definitely needed that,” MacDonald told Speed51.com. “We haven’t quite had the year we were hoping for this year but this definitely helps out. The guys did an awesome job and (crew chief) Rollie (Lachance) made some great calls.
“I wasn’t sure what the right call was but luckily there wasn’t a lot of traffic out there and the car was really good right back to the green. It worked out perfect. I was a little worried because Scott was pretty fast on those restarts, but it’s definitely awesome to be able to get a win here.”
Although the final 50 laps appeared to be a cake walk for MacDonald, his day at the North Woodstock, New Hampshire race track was not.
After qualifying into the race through his consolation race, MacDonald was disqualified in post-qualifying technical inspection for being too light over the scales. That forced MacDonald to start last in the B-Main feature, where he would need to gain four positions in 15 laps in order to qualify for the event.
He did exactly that and a little bit more, finishing third and earning himself the 25th starting spot for the main event.
“We contemplated whether we should stick with it or not just because it’s tough to come from the back, but everything worked out and the guys did an awesome job,” MacDonald said.
Jimmy Hebert, a two-time American-Canadian Tour winner this season, battled within the top-five for much of the race and made his way by Scott Payea on a late restart to claim the runner-up position.
“Even if we could have caught him it would have been tough to get by him,” Hebert admitted. “He had about 40 laps fresher tires than us. We thought we had a good strategy. We inherited like tenth place when we came out of the pits. There was a big wreck and he pitted about 40 laps after us and he was in sixth or seventh when he came out, right on my back bumper. I knew that was going to sting us, but we held everybody else off so that shows where our car is at.”
Payea was able to pull right up to Hebert’s back bumper late in the race but was forced to settle for a third-place result.
Like MacDonald, Payea and the RPM Motorsports team also battled adversity early in the day when they were disqualified for a width infraction following a qualifying heat race.
“We battled back because this team is just so awesome,” Payea said. “They gave me an awesome race car. We drove it to the front and we got the lead there and then we got beat by fresher tires at the end. It was just a lot of fun.”
Following a runner-up finish in the PASS North race on Saturday night, Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. finished fourth. Recent Labor Day Classic 200 winner Jason Corliss completed the top five.
Despite unusually high temperatures for the middle of September, the verdict on the inaugural NAPA 250 appeared to be a positive one at the end of the weekend.
“It was a blast,” Hebert said after the race. “I think later in the year would be nice, although it should be colder right now. It’s great to see events like this. The more events they put out like this, the more it’s going to draw people to this division. That’s what it needs right now to attract more quality cars.”
The next big event for ACT-type Late Models in the Northeast will be the 56th Annual Vermont Milk Bowl at Thunder Road International Speedbowl on September 28-30.
-Story by Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor - Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com