When the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models arrived at Stafford Motor Speedway this weekend, Eddie MacDonald was one of only a few drivers with winning experience on the Connecticut half-mile.
That experience came fifteen years ago. But it proved relevant in the long haul.
“The Outlaw” drove to a convincing victory in Saturday’s PASS North preamble to Stafford’s 50th Spring Sizzler weekend, earning his fourth career PASS win on an afternoon where redemption resonated throughout the field.
Saturday’s PASS portion of the NAPA Auto Parts Duel was the first visit to Stafford for the Maine-based Super Late Model touring series since 2012. Connecticut legend Ted Christopher won the shortened affair.
MacDonald was not one of the three drivers from Saturday’s lineup—DJ Shaw, Johnny Clark and Ben Rowe—who were in the 2012 race. But that was no matter.
The Rowley, Mass. veteran was in control from the drop of the green. Starting on the front row, MacDonald jumped out to an early lead, with Joey Polewarczyk settling into the runner-up slot. Polewarczyk, still looking for his first win of the year after a strong start, was able to keep the rest of the field at bay early on, but “Joey Pole” had few answers for MacDonald.
With 50 laps complete, Gabe Brown led Ryan Kuhn past Polewarczyk, with Kuhn putting pressure on Brown for second. Kuhn, a Seekonk Speedway standout, slipped past Brown with nine laps to go.
But Kuhn’s bid for victory ended with a tire failure with three laps to go, giving Brown and Polewarczyk one last shot at “The Outlaw.”
MacDonald took off on the restart, sealing the deal at Stafford and adding to his big-track legacy.
Polewarczyk, who dominated the Granite State Pro Stock Series race at Stafford a year ago, battled back to second in the closing laps. Since joining forces with car owner Richard Moody, Polewarczyk has been on fire, with a lackluster performance at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last week the only weak point in the pairing so far.
Gabe Brown held on for third, a moral victory for the Dale Drew Racing team after last week’s NHMS catastrophe. After a heat-race wreck left the title hopeful on the sidelines for the feature, Brown and his crew thrashed all week to repair and rebody the wounded car. The young racer started out front and drove his white-and-black car to his best PASS result of 2022 so far.
PASS sophomore Jake Matheson was a strong fourth, maintaining his momentum and placing three New Hampshire racers in the top five. Ben Rowe, perhaps buoyed by the speed of his Richard Moody Racing teammate Polewarczyk, was fifth at the line.
Local favorite Cory Casagrande, who skipped NHMS after damaging a car in a tire test at Stafford, shook off his own early-season misfortunes to finish sixth in front of his hometown crowd. NHMS winner Austin MacDonald, after a quick turnaround for the Nova Scotia team, was seventh. Kate Re, mired in her own third-year slump, earned her first finish of the season with a hard-fought eighth-place run.
Reigning PASS North champion Johnny Clark spun on the final lap, finishing ninth. Title runner-up Dan Winter was tenth, one lap behind the leaders.
Thompson winner DJ Shaw, who finished second in PASS’ only prior visit to Stafford in 2012, was caught up in an early crash with Corey Bubar and Michael Scorzelli, finishing 18th after completing only 17 laps.
Even Eddie MacDonald’s finish came with a measure of redemption. Saturday’s victory snapped a winless streak dating back to the 2019 season. MacDonald won twice that year, once at NHMS in PASS competition and once at Thompson with the Granite State Pro Stock Series.
But in part-time schedules in 2020 and 2021, MacDonald could not find his way to victory lane. He came close, finishing second and third at Thompson and fourth at Seekonk in the summer, but a win was not in the cards. MacDonald struggled in his visit to Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway for this April’s PASS-sanctioned Easter Bunny 150s, but the big-track ace was back to form at Thompson and NHMS with top-five finishes.
One of the last New Englanders to compete regularly on the former NASCAR East Series, MacDonald earned one of his seven series wins at Stafford in 2007. Since then, MacDonald had only run two more East Series races at the track, plus last year’s GSPSS feature, in which he finished fourth.
Saturday afternoon, though, that was all the experience Eddie MacDonald needed.
Unofficial Results, PASS NAPA Auto Parts Duel 75 at Stafford Motor Speedway:
1. (17MA) Eddie MacDonald
2. (4NH) Joey Polewarczyk
3. (50) Gabe Brown
4. (52M) Jake Matheson
5. (4) Ben Rowe
6. (7CT) Cory Casagrande
7. (13) Austin MacDonald
8. (10) Kate Re
9. (54) Johnny Clark
10. (81) Dan Winter
11. (48) Derek Gluchacki
12. (21) Josh King
13. (88) Brandon Barker
14. (72) Ryan Kuhn
15. (29) Adam Gray
16. (94) Garrett Hall
17. (18S) Michael Scorzelli
18. (60) DJ Shaw
19. (12) Corey Bubar
DNS (24J) J.P. Josiasse