(Oxford ME) Well, at least part of his wish came true.
Before the qualifying races at Oxford Plains Speedway for the TD Banknorth 250 on Sunday afternoon (July 19th), Eddie MacDonald of Rowley told me, “It would be neat to have the two of us over there in victory lane when the day ends.”
Eddie (29) was referring to fellow racer Mike Johnson (42) from Salisbury.
But it wasn’t meant to be, as Mike had as much bad luck as Eddie had good luck.
Mike ended the day not qualifying for the TD Banknorth 250 despite three tries. “We had a bad transmission and could only get one practice in,” he said. Mike’s best chance was in his first qualifying attempt when he started in the pole position.
On the other hand, Eddie practiced, qualified and later ended up on victory lane as the winner of arguably the most important annual sporting event in Maine.
Eddie described the victory as, “the biggest win I’ve ever had.” He collected $25,000 for first place plus an additional $10,300 for keeping #17 in the lead for 103 laps.
During the race, the Triton graduate held the lead when he went in for a pit stop on Lap 129. He returned to action and thirty-eight laps later he had made up the time lost and was back in front and never trailed the rest of the way. A year ago, Eddie made a similar pit stop and got new tires only to find the car going slower after the tire change and had to settle for a frustrating 6th place finish.
Eddie was quick to praise his crew afterwards particularly for the work they did during nearly six hours of practice. “I’d come in about every few practice laps for adjustments including tire changes.” The frequent stops were partly for practice for the race itself and partly to make sure the car, and specifically the tires, were right unlike the previous year.
You put a tightly spaced field of 41 race cars on a small track (three eighth of a mile) for 250 laps and the likelihood of situations leading to cautions is great. In this one, there were ten cautions. The last caution, on Lap 212, was the closest Eddie came to being knocked out of the race entirely. Right in front of the crowded grandstand a driver spun around right into Eddie’s path but Eddie was able to swerve and avoid contact and drive on from there to the win when racing resumed.
Eddie laughed when he told me that he had “cautions” on his mind as the race wound down. “I figured that there would be a caution at twenty, ten, and even on the last lap. I was praying that the caution flag didn’t come out and luckily it didn’t.”
Mike and Eddie are part of the Camping World East Tour. Ahead for them are scheduled races in New York and Connecticut followed by a September 18th race at nearby (1 ½ hours) Loudon, New Hampshire.
Eddie won twice at Loudon in 2008.
Well-known driver Rusty Wallace was the grand marshal at Oxford while Kenny Wallace and his nephew Steven also took part. The threesome drew plenty of attention from the crowd.
However, when the race was over it was Rowley’s Eddie MacDonald drawing the biggest cheers of the day. He summarized the way things went best when he said, “Everything worked just the way we needed it to.”
( This story appeared in The Town Common on July 29, 2009. )