OXFORD — When Eddie MacDonald took the lead just a third of the way into the race Saturday night, it was easy to assume the race was over before it really got started.

MacDonald cruised off to win the ACT Late Model Tour Oxford 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway, but it wasn’t as simple as the final margin of victory would indicate. The two-time Oxford 250 winner from Rowley, Massachusetts, had to get track position early, navigate lapped traffic in the middle stages of the race and got away from the building carnage behind him on late restarts.

Completing the two-race season sweep at Oxford with his fifth career ACT win at the track — and seventh Late Model win, including consecutive Oxford 250s in 2009 and 2010 — might have looked easy, but it wasn’t.

Jimmy Hebert of Williamstown, Vermont, finished second by nearly two seconds with Evan Hallstrom of Northfield, Vermont, third.

“I was worried about Jimmy coming there, he was pretty quick,” said MacDonald, who has 11 career ACT wins. “I’m not sure what happened with him at the end, but he’s had a fast car the last couple of weeks.”

MacDonald was the only driver in the field pulling double duty this weekend. He’s entered in Sunday’s 45th annual Clark’s Scrap Metals Oxford 250.

“We’ve had a lot of good runs here, so it’s great to get another win at Oxford,” MacDonald said. “(My crew) worked hard all day to get this car good.”

It’s likely nobody had a more eventful night than ACT point leader Scott Payea. Payea, of Milton, Vermont, was racing in third when he got into the back of second-place Chip Grenier on lap 51. Grenier spun, and Payea was sent to the rear for his role in the incident.

Payea stormed back through the 24-car field and was all the way to eighth by the halfway point and fourth by lap 100. But his night took another sour turn when he and Corey Mason tangled in turn three on lap 126 and he was back to the rear again with worn out tires and a crumpled front bumper.

Payea was credited with 10th.

Only one additional lap was completed before Peyton Lanphear when spinning across the frontstretch into the field, collecting more than half a dozen cars in the incident.

At the front, MacDonald kept skittering away with great restarts, clearing Hebert time and again into turn one to build an advantage Hebert couldn’t close.

“We were a little too aggressive in the front end,” Hebert said. “On the restarts, I knew I was in trouble. The really long runs really beat up the tires, and by the time the caution came we didn’t have anything for (MacDonald).”

MacDonald made the most of his night in the first 25 laps after starting 10th, one spot behind Hebert and one spot ahead of Payea.

The three lead drivers in the ACT standings spent plenty of time playing cat-and-mouse — dodging inside and outside of one another in traffic — as they climbed their way into the top five.

After testing the outside lane ahead of everybody else, MacDonald had himself in position to follow Grenier into third on lap 36.

And when Payea and Grenier had their problems, it put MacDonald to the outside of Hallstrom on a lap 52 restart.

MacDonald used the outside lane to clear Hallstrom completely just two laps later and he never relinquished the lead from there.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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