* MacDonald's First Start Of 2007 Brings Surprise Winner To Stafford Victory Lane * Reigning Series Champion, Olsen Places Second; Rises To Second In 2007 Point Race * Kobyluck Follows Virginia Win With Third Place In Stafford's ...
* MacDonald's First Start Of 2007 Brings Surprise Winner To Stafford Victory Lane
* Reigning Series Champion, Olsen Places Second; Rises To Second In 2007 Point Race
* Kobyluck Follows Virginia Win With Third Place In Stafford's 150
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 11, 2007) - Hard work in race car preparation through the night into race day morning brought an unlikely winner to victory lane in the NASCAR Busch East Series TSI Harley Davidson 150 at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway Friday night.
Eddie MacDonald (No. 48 New England Mechanical Overlay Chevrolet), 26, a construction worker from Rowley, Mass., won the 75-mile, 150-lap event, in his first series start of 2007, and his first start since September 2006. The upset win was the third of his NASCAR Busch East Series career, but his first since October 2005 at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway.
Despite all the work in preparation by the car owner/crew chief Larry Lachance and team, the car was imperfect on arrival, so the adjusting continued throughout the day's practice sessions right up to qualifying time.
"The car was tight from the time we unloaded it," MacDonald said. "We kept freeing it up and freeing it up and we changed everything on it before qualifying. We made the right changes and it ended up working out perfectly in the race."
MacDonald qualified fifth-fastest in the 30-car field, and took the lead from the previous week's race winner, Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Casino Chevrolet, South Boston, Va., June 2), five laps before the halfway point in the event, and maintained a lead that resulted in a 1.263-second margin of victory at the finish. Defending series champion Mike Olsen (No. 61 Little Trees Chevrolet) slipped passed Kobyluck with three laps remaining to take second. Kobyluck placed third followed by Marc Davis (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Driven Chevrolet) and Bryon Chew (No. 99 Buzz Chew/HuntinTheWorld.com Chevrolet).
"This is a really tough track and I've struggled since Day One here until I got hooked up with Larry Lachance," MacDonald said of the Stafford track and Lachance, with whom he teamed three years ago. "Ever since I've come here with him we've had top-five finishes and top-five qualifying runs. The success is really because of him giving me a car that I can actually drive and get through the corners. The whole crew just works so hard on it, too."
MacDonald was already looking forward to the next of his five-to-seven-race NASCAR Busch East Series schedule for 2007. His next entry is for the June 29 event at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N.H.
"Larry and I are racing one of our own cars this year. As long as it's staying in one piece and we keep it together, that's our plan," MacDonald said. "We were real worried coming into the race tonight. We just wanted to finish in the top-10 and leave with the car in one piece so we can take it to Loudon. We just finished putting the car together this morning, and we wanted to start working on our geometry and set-up for Loudon, and now we have lots of momentum going there.
"We've run pretty decent at Loudon. We've had real fast cars and always seem to have something stupid happen. We've been down on horsepower the last few years there. Now, with this new (series optional, lower cost) spec engine, we're equal with everyone else, instead of being down.
"I really couldn't ask for anything else," he continued. "The spec motor is really good for the series, and it's more cost effective."
MacDonald and Lachance are running a limited schedule of NASCAR Busch East Series events this year, and they're racing with one car on short tracks such as Stafford and superspeedways such as New Hampshire and Dover. Changing a race car's set-up configuration can be a lot of work. With expert knowledge and a team effort, one-car teams can be competitive, as the MacDonald/Lachance team has demonstrated. Peyton Sellers and his family-owned No. 83 Strutmasters.com Chevrolet team are competing on the full series schedule with just one car, and left Stafford fourth in series points and have finished as high as second.
In the TSI Harley Davidson 150, Budweiser Pole Award winner Sean Caisse (No. 44 Casella Waste Systems Chevrolet) led the first 30 laps of the event before giving way to Kobyluck. Kobyluck and Sellers, who finished one-two in the previous week's race in South Boston, Va., then battled for the lead with Sellers leading one lap of the race, on lap 38. Both Caisse and Sellers encountered problems in the event and were not a factor in the outcome of the race. MacDonald took the lead from Kobyluck on lap 70, and led the rest of the way.
"I'm not disappointed because at that point (in the race), that was the best we were going to do," said Kobyluck. "I'm happy to get another top five. I'm just disappointed because the car was so much better earlier than it was at the end. I don't know if it was something that broke or if the tires just went so bad that you couldn't drive it. We'll have to check it out and see.
"I had almost a straightaway lead on the rest of the field, and the car wasn't changing at all. I thought the car was going to be golden until the end and we were just going to check out there. I guess that's why they say it's never over until it's over," Kobyluck said.
Olsen's runner-up finish was his season's best.
"Matt just slid up and I was able to drive right by him," he said. "I thought I had something for Eddie (MacDonald), but the more laps I ran, it seemed to drop off. I had a carburetor problem. After I ran so many laps, it would start to flutter off the turn. Once I got straight it would go away, but it slowed us down in the corners."
"We had a good points day," Olsen said. "I was happy with a second after the week we had. Harry (Norcross) and the guys worked really hard all week to get the car fixed after South Boston. Obviously, I would like to win, but I was happy to see it go green without another restart because that leads to another chance for something to happen. We had a second-place car tonight and that's where we finished."
Davis matched his best finish of fourth posted in the Virginia event a week earlier. Chew's fifth-place finish was his third top five of the season.
Jesus Hernandez (No. 4 Allstate Chevrolet) finished sixth, followed by Mike Johnson (No. 96 Johnson Lumber Company Ford), Chase Austin (No. 66 HomeLife Communities Dodge) with his best finish yet in eighth, John Salemi (No. 63 John Salemi Racing LLC Chevrolet) with his second top-10 finish of the season in ninth, and John Freeman (No. 2 Family Dollar/Freeman's Stereo Chevrolet) who posted third top-10 finish of the season in tenth.
Despite a spin that resulted in an 11th-place finish, Joey Logano (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Driven Chevrolet) retained the series point lead by 40 points over Olsen. Rogelio Lopez (No. 03 Lucas Oil/Telmex Chevrolet) finished outside the top-10 for the first time this year in 17th and fell to third in points. Sellers held fourth in the standings followed by Bryon Chew.