By James Pouliot
---- — Rowley native Eddie MacDonald finished 35th of 43 drivers Sunday in the Camping World RV Sales 301 race, part of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Racers lined up at 1 p.m. for the 301-lap race, about three hours and 300 miles total.
This is MacDonald’s first time driving in the Sprint Cup, NASCAR’s top stock car racing series. Merely participating is a notable accomplishment for any driver, but the occasion was especially important for him as it marked his completion of all five of NASCAR’s top series.
“This is what I always dreamed of: being able to run in the Sprint Cup Race and drive racecars for a living,” MacDonald said. “That’s definitely what you look for as a race fan and a racer for my whole life...It meant the world for me to be able to do that and have my whole family here.”
Macdonald’s team of 15 mechanics, strategists and support staff ran the race with a simple plan.
“Our goal was just to stay up there, stay out of trouble and run as many laps as we can,” MacDonald said, “keep up with the guys and try to get a spot here and there where we could, just to try to keep marching to the front….Thankfully, we were able to stay out of trouble and get a fair finish.”
According to MacDonald, the New Hampshire Motor Speedway is among the shorter and flatter tracks of the series. With less banking around the turns, drivers have trouble speeding through them and maintaining speed on the other side. MacDonald has notched up six wins on the Speedway and called it one of his favorite tracks.
Sprint Cup cars are unique in that their high weight, relatively simple aerodynamics and powerful engines make for extremely high speeds—200-plus miles per hour—with poor handling. This is especially important as the the race continues: when the track’s surface gets hotter and accumulates rubber, car wheels lose traction and begin to slip around the corners, MacDonald said.
“The big focus is just to drive the car as hard and consistent as I can,” he said, “then relay back to the crew what the car’s doing so that they can tune on the car and make some adjustments to make it more comfortable to drive and faster, so that we can try to keep up with the track.”
MacDonald added that he is grateful to Michael Alden of Blue Vase Marketing and Archie St. Helaire of Go FAS Racing, who partnered to place him into the Sprint Cup.