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07132017 mcdonaldtsrWords Phil Hutchison/Photos David Smith

Mark McDonald had a damn fine weekend at the Fallen Patriots Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, IL winning the JEGS Allstars portion of Top Sportsman during Saturday’s action and then doubling up on Sunday taking the NHRA national event in his potent ’67 Mustang. The double put McDonald in a rare club that only 28 other drivers have accomplished at the event.

Just making the JEGS Allstars shootout was a monumental task for the Boonville, IN, driver as he didn’t qualify for the event until the last available race to claim JEGS points. “At the end of the 2016 season we were behind leader Mick Snyder by two rounds and as the points carry over to 2017 we need to go rounds,” McDonald said. “The Indy Lucas division opener was postponed because of rain so consequently we didn’t get any points. Now we only have Norwalk to get points. And the weather forecast for Norwalk was terrible and I am telling my wife Deidre as we pull out of the driveway ‘We’re going to go up here and the event is going to get rained out and we will not get any Allstars points.’

“But we get up there, qualify and they started racing,” he added. “Mick and I both won first round but he lost in the second and I was still in. Then it rained. They announced they were going to finish the race on Monday so we get up in the morning, get the car ready and we are towing to the staging lanes and I check who we have to race and it’s Curt Fredrich who is one of the premier Top Sportsman racers. He’s a tough draw. We ended up getting around Curt but lost in the semis but got enough points to qualify for the JEGS race.”

McDonald made quick work of the eight-car field at the JEGS race as he puts it, “The first guy hogged the stripe and broke out; the second guy couldn’t make it to the starting line and oiled the track and the third guy goes 0.020 red.”

Between the JEGS race and Friday’s action, two full rounds of Top Sportsman at the NHRA national event were run so going into Sunday’s finals, Mark had won five straight rounds at Chicago.  “Come Sunday morning my wife tells me this race is so spread out over three days there are four first rounds,” McDonald continued. “It was tough getting into a rhythm. I got up at 5:30 Sunday to get the car ready and my time slip was stamped 9:15 AM. Some racers aren’t even up then. We were waking the Stock drivers up.”

“After getting by Curt Fredrich at the Lucas race in Norwalk to get into the JEGS race, we faced him in round three at Chicago and again, he was a tenacious racer. Curt got a 0.001 light and fortunately I was close enough he didn’t have enough room to cut me in at the finish line so he broke out and I went around him.

“Every pass I made down the racetrack during the national event I had the same number in the delay box, and it was the right number,” McDonald adds. “It was just a focus problem with me and once I got back to getting my focus it all worked out.

“In the finals against Todd Ewing, he was 0.015 on the tree and I was 0.005 and by the time I got to the eighth-mile I had control of the race,” McDonald said. “All I got to do is not screw it up at the finish line and I win the race. I started squeezing the brake pedal between the eighth-mile and the thousand-foot mark to get rid of a little ET and by the time I got to the traps I had scrubbed off ten MPH off my normal speed.”

McDonald turned on the win light with a 6.677 on a 6.65 dial to Ewing’s losing 6.833 on a 6.80 dial.

Charlie Evans owns the winning car and the drive train is supplied by McDonald. “We bought the car wrecked from a guy in Atlanta. It was a twin turbocharged Pro Mod that only had six passes on it before it got wrecked. The car, originally a 2005 Ford Escort, was heavily rebuilt by Dragstersforsale.com just to illustrate how well we can build and repair cars. Pretty big swing going from an Escort to a Mustang.”

The Ford is powered by a 598-cubic inch motor built by Philip Oakley from Oakley Engine Performance and the paint was applied by Justin Smith.

McDonald would like to thank VP Racing Fuels, Lucas Oil, MT Tires, NGK, K&N Filters, ATM Innovations, Simpson Race Products, Coolshirt Systems, Modern Supply, Racepak, Diamond Pistons, Trend Performance Products, Abruzzi Transmissions, Quick Fuel, NOS Systems, Braille Battery and Brodix for their support.

In addition, McDonald would like to recognize for their support, his wife Deidre, JB Strassweg his partner at Dragstersforsale.com and his wife Torrie along with McDonald’s son Michael and daughter-in-law Lacey who are expecting a McDonald grandchild soon. McDonald would also like to thank his brother-in-law Mark Saab who flew out to Chicago to see him race.

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