MacDonald faces added challenge to defend Oxford 250 title

By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff
Posted July 22, 2011, at 8:08 p.m.

Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Mass. has won the last two TD Bank Oxford 250s at Oxford Plains Speedway.

But he will be facing an added obstacle in his attempt at a threepeat in the 38th annual 250 on Sunday night: a fly-in.

MacDonald is a regular on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East tour— he is currently sitting in eighth place in the points standings — and will be racing in the inaugural Jegs 150 at Columbus Motor Speedway in Ohio on Saturday night.

They will drive to Pittsburgh after the race and fly in to Oxford Sunday morning.

“We aren’t going to get a whole lot of rest. It will be a challenge to get there and to get some practice in on Sunday,” said the 31-year-old MacDonald. “I definitely hope we can. I’d like to feel out the car a little bit and see how much has changed (with the track as well as the car). We should be there by the second practice.”

There will be three practices on Sunday, starting at 8 a.m.

Racing will begin at 2 p.m. with a set of heat races. Starting positions for the heat races will be drawn. There will also be consolation races for the drivers who don’t finish in the top four in the heat races and a last-chance race for those who haven’t qualified after the consolation races.

All of them will last 20 laps.

The green flag for the 250 will drop at 6:30 p.m.

“I really wish I could be there for the whole weekend. Any time you fly in to a race, you always have a few things you have to sacrifice. We have a great group of guys and I’m sure they’ll have the car ready to go when we pull in,” said MacDonald.

MacDonald will be driving the same Pontiac with a Chevy engine that he piloted to the two 250 triumphs.

However, he hasn’t had a chance to race it this season because of rainouts.

“We shook it down a few weeks ago because it had been sitting since Loudon (New Hampshire Motor Speedway) last year,” explained MacDonald. “We had gotten it ready (to race) three different times but the races got rained out.”

He is having the car transported to the track. Part of his crew will be waiting at the track for him and the others will be flying in from Columbus with him.

He’ll race different cars in the K&N East race and the Oxford 250.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to pick up right where we left off last year. We’ve had a couple of good runs there. I’m excited about that,” said MacDonald. “The odds are definitely stacked against us. We need to do what we’ve done the past two years. We need to work hard when we get there.”

One ace up his sleeve will be crew chief Rollie Lachance, who is from nearby Auburn.

“Rollie will be making all the calls and he really has the track figured out,” said MacDonald. “He has always been able to get cars to go there.”

MacDonald and Lachance discovered a positive development in Columbus on Friday.

“We walked the track and, with the exception of a little flatter front stretch, it almost looks like Oxford,” said MacDonald.

There won’t be a shortage of viable contenders at the 250, according to MacDonald.

“There will be 10-20 cars that could win. It’s just a matter of who hits the right set-up, who gets the right draw (for the heat races), who makes the right pit stop and who makes the best adjustments during the race,” said MacDonald.

That list includes Sprint Cup driver Kyle Busch, who won his 100th career race between NASCAR’s top three divisions last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“He’ll definitely be fast. No matter what he drives, he’ll be fast,” said MacDonald.

“There are so many people who can win this race,” said Frenchville native Shawn Martin, who now lives in Turner. “There is so much talent out there now. I wouldn’t bet against (American-Canadian Tour points leader) Brian Hoar. And I definitely wouldn’t bet against Jeff Taylor. He has been in a league of his own on Saturday nights (at Oxford Plains). I’m sure he’ll be up there as will Eddie MacDonald. And Joey Polewarczyk has been running real well.

“It’s anybody’s race,” added Martin who also feels he has a chance “if the stars align and everything plays out in our favor.”

Martin said the track will absorb a series of different rubber from the different tires used by the Pro All-Stars Series Super Late Model North division and Modifieds on Saturday night and the tires on the Late Model cars on Sunday.

“They’ve also been spraying the track with traction adhesive,” said Martin. “It’s going to be fun. You’re going to have to search around a little bit (for the fastest groove).”

Albany Township’s Ricky Rolfe, who finished second in 2004, said he figures that “30 of the 80 cars have a good chance.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/07/22/sports/macdonald-faces-added-challenge-to-defend-oxford-250-title/ printed on September 23, 2014