OXFORD —  In his brief TD Banknorth 250 career, Eddie MacDonald has made a habit of setting the pace.

Sometimes, that has done him more harm than good at Oxford Plains Speedway, but not Sunday night.

MacDonald picked up his first 250 title, holding off Patrick Laperle with the aggressive, but smart racing that has made him a champion in Loudon and several other NASCAR Camping World Series East stops.

In his 250 debut in 2007, MacDonald was leading his eighth lap when he took his Chevy into pit row under caution. Race officials held his car for a one-lap penalty because he had passed the pace car on pit row. MacDonald argued that the pace car was on the track, but to no avail. Not only did he have to start in the back, he lost another lap later after being taken out from behind. Remarkably, he rallied to finish 23rd.

Sunday night, MacDonald lost the lead for the last time when he pitted under caution on lap 129. This time, he made sure his Monte Carlo gave the pace car an indisputable cushion.

“We actually weren’t going to come in, but then after (Laperle) pulled in there, we decided to turn it on in,” MacDonald said. “I took it a little extra easy making sure where the pace car was.”

MacDonald led last year’s 250 for nearly half the race. Then eventual champion, Kevin Harvick, passed him on lap 133.

This time, MacDonald was determined to dominate the last half of the race. He restarted outside of the top 10, then wrested control for the third and final time from Brian Hoar in lap 168.

The lead lengthened to as many as three car lengths over the next 50-plus laps, but MacDonald had run into trouble

Laperle motored to within about 1½-car lengths from underneath.

“When he was up high, I thought maybe I had a shot,” said Laperle, a Quebec native. 

“We practiced most of today on the bottom, and it seemed like everyone was up high,” MacDonald said. “I was thinking if everyone was running up high in the race, I could go down bottom and get by them, but they ended up running high, too.”

MacDonald took the low line to hold him off and eventually pulled away to five car lengths with six laps to go . His crew chief and the car’s co-owner, Rollie Lachance of New Gloucester, kept tabs on Laperle for him.

“Rollie was spotting for me and let me know where Patrick was running, and I was trying to run where he was running if it was working a little better and just pull away a little bit,” MacDonald said. “I didn’t want to run too hard with a bunch of laps left.”

“It’s been a long time coming for Rollie,” he said. “We didn’t get the finish we wanted the first two years, but it all made it worth it with this one.”

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