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Austin MacDonald Conquers NHMS in PASS Northeast Classic

The young racer from Nova Scotia rebounded from a hard crash at Thompson to take his first career PASS North trophy.

Austin MacDonald celebrates his first PASS North win in New Hampshire Motor Speedway's victory lane following Sunday's Northeast Classic. (STS/Jeff Brown)

When the Pro All Stars Series shows up at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, picking MacDonald to win is a safe bet.

But Austin MacDonald managed to make that choice just a bit more confusing.

The Canadian teenager earned his first career PASS North Super Late Model win Sunday afternoon, dominating the series’ feature portion of the second annual Northeast Classic.

MacDonald’s biggest rival throughout the 50-lap feature was the driver who shares his surname, Massachusetts native Eddie MacDonald. “The Outlaw” has eleven wins in 51 starts at the Loudon, N.H. speedway in a variety of divisions, including the first two PASS events held at the track.

Austin MacDonald was dominant at NHMS, leading 38 of 50 laps en route to victory. (STS/Jeff Brown)

But Austin was the MacDonald who showed the way early, taking the point over Brandon Barker and Joe Pastore in the early laps. Eddie MacDonald climbed to second as the race approached halfway, with Barker sliding back to fourth by the lap-30 competition caution.

“The Outlaw” powered past Austin MacDonald on the restart, showing the way for eleven laps before Austin drove back to the lead.

Separate spins for Jeff White and Evan Beaulieu bunched up the field with only a few circuits remaining. And while Eddie MacDonald poked his nose into the lead for a lap, the Pictou, N.S. racer quickly distanced himself from the second-place battle, coasting home to the win.

Eddie MacDonald slips past Brandon Barker early in the Northeast Classic, but “The Outlaw” would slide back to fifth at the finish. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Barker made gains on the final restart to come home second, his best effort in PASS competition. Pastore, a regular winner at the now-shuttered Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Maine, was fast all day and finished third for a career-best of his own.

Justin Larsen, a North East Mini Stock Tour winner at NHMS in 2014, opened his second year in a Super Late Model with a strong fourth-place finish. Eddie MacDonald slipped to fifth at the checkered flag.

JR Robinson, one of last year’s full-time PASS racers, finished sixth in his first start of the year, with New Hampshire’s Jake Matheson crossing the line seventh. Anthony Constantino was eighth at the checkers. Evan Hallstrom and Garrett Hall rounded out the top ten.

Most teams stayed the extra day in New Hampshire after a damp forecast for Saturday forced the races to be bumped one day to Easter Sunday. Reigning champion Johnny Clark was not at the track Sunday, but his bid for an eighth championship may not be over yet, given some of the struggles of his title challengers.

Joe Pastore, Jr. battles Brandon Barker on the last lap, but came up just short of the second-place finish. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Gabe Brown, returning to PASS full-time after a year away in 2021, met an early end to his afternoon when he was wrecked on a restart in the third heat. Ben Rowe and Joey Polewarczyk struggled at the back of the pack, finishing 20th and 21st. Thompson winner DJ Shaw dropped out of his heat race early with mechanical trouble, but patiently raced his way to an 11th-place finish.

Derek Griffith was not in the title hunt, but his season’s hopes took a big hit Sunday. Griffith was caught up in Gabe Brown’s heat-race crash, but soldiered on with body damage. Two laps later, Tyler Tomassi made an evasive move beneath Griffith and spun into Griffith’s path. Both cars slammed into the turn-one concrete, with Griffith rolling over and coming to a rest on all four tires. Griffith was uninjured, but his car was destroyed, leaving his short track plans up in the air.

Plenty of drivers found racing at the “Magic Mile” to be a curse, but Austin MacDonald seems to have the larger tracks under his spell. MacDonald finished fourth in his first PASS start at NHMS in 2019. Border restrictions kept MacDonald and grandfather Rollie’s King Racing operation in Canada through most of 2020 and 2021, but MacDonald made his PASS return last August, finishing third at Oxford Plains Speedway and second at Thompson Speedway in October.

MacDonald celebrates his first win and the third PASS win for the King Racing #13 since last August. (STS/Jeff Brown)

MacDonald was fast at Thompson again two weeks ago, but a suspension failure left the team with a wrecked race car and the youngster’s only PASS finish outside the top ten so far.

By winning this weekend, MacDonald is the first Canadian driver to win a PASS North race since Cole Butcher in 2018, and the first Canadian to win a PASS North race in the United States since Lonnie Sommerville won at Beech Ridge in 2011.

MacDonald also builds on a string of success for the King Racing team dating back to last summer, when Cassius Clark wheeled a team car to two victories at Oxford, including his first Oxford 250 in August. Clark’s victories came in his first competitive races in almost a year.

With the young racer testing the waters of the CARS Pro Late Model Tour as well, it remains to be seen where MacDonald will race next.

But it’s quite clear where in the field to look for him.

Unofficial Results, PASS Northeast Classic 50 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
1. (13) Austin MacDonald
2. (88) Brandon Barker
3. (20P) Joe Pastore, Jr.
4. (18) Justin Larsen
5. (17MA) Eddie MacDonald
6. (20) JR Robinson
7. (52M) Jake Matheson
8. (14ME) Anthony Constantino
9. (1) Evan Hallstrom
10. (94) Garrett Hall
11. (60) DJ Shaw
12. (72) Ryan Kuhn
13. (29S) Trevor Sanborn
14. (78) Ivan Kaffel
15. (12) Dennis Spencer, Jr.
16. (7) Isaac Bevin
17. (81) Dan Winter
18. (18S) Michael Scorzelli
19. (39) Nick Lascuola
20. (4) Ben Rowe
21. (4NH) Joey Polewarczyk
22. (56) Evan Beaulieu
23. (50) Jeff White
24. (02) Brian Whalley
25. (24J) J.P. Josiasse
26. (21) Josh King
27. (12X) Corey Bubar
28. (21C) Shane Clark
29. (10) Kate Re
30. (9) Alan Tardiff
31. (14) Scott McDaniel

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Jeff Brown is a contributor to Short Track Scene. A native of New Hampshire and a long-time fan of New England racing, Brown provides a fan's perspective as he follows New England's regional Late Model touring series.

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