The K & N Pro Series East made its inaugural trip to Richmond International Raceway as part of the big NASCAR Cup weekend that featured the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown, the Nationwide Series, as well as the Sprint Cup. All 38 teams that entered for the K & N Blue Ox 100 took the green flag for 75
laps over the tree-quarter high-banked oval. MacDonald started 11th on the grid and was able to finish in the fourteenth position despite some first time obstacles.
“Obviously we wanted to have a better finish than we did but it was tough with a new car on a new track,” said the veteran driver before adding. “We just bought the car from Braun Racing in the Nationwide Series and we had to make a number of changes for it to be legal in our series, so we did not have time to test the car before bringing it to Richmond. Also, it was the first time we had ever even seen the track so those two things worked against us. I’m not trying to make excuses but the reality is it would have been really difficult to race those guys for a top five or ten finish. Most of those teams tested at Richmond and that makes a huge difference.”
MacDonald qualified the Grimm Construction Chevy in 11th position and that was after some tense moments in the garage. The K&N was scheduled for two practice sessions with a thirty minute break in between. However a rain storm passed over the track and officials decided to combine the two practices after a brief delay. The Grimm Racing Team had already committed to changing the gear and lost considerable practice time in the pits. As a result, MacDonald scored 23rd fastest of the 38 cars to participate in the abbreviated session.
“Missing out on that time really hurt us but we managed to pick up six tenths so we knew we were headed in the right direction,” said MacDonald before continuing. “Unfortunately we ran out of practice time before we had the opportunity to try what we wanted to do. We qualified well considering everything that happened and we wanted hold our position during the race, then take advantage when we could.”
MacDonald was running in the twelfth position when the rain began to fall on lap 22. After riding around under caution for seven laps, track officials brought the cars down pit road for what resulted in an hour and forty-eight minute delay. When racing resumed on lap 40, MacDonald lost a few positions when the handling in the turns became a problem.
“We were tight in the turns and we lost a number of positions with the car then so loose coming out, especially in turn two. You have so much speed going into turn one you really have to use the brakes and with the car not turning well it left us open for guys to pass on the bottom exiting the turn when I couldn’t hold it on the bottom. We were able to salvage a 14th place run and we learned quite a bit about the car and it came home in one piece. This was a tough race to concentrate on with all the death from the twisters. It was sad to realize that so many people lost their lives in these storms. The twisters were all around us and that is something the people from the Northeast don’t have to deal with. So it was tough for us to concentrate on a race knowing what was happening. Now we just have to go back to the shop and focus on getting ready for Iowa in a few weeks and try to turn things around.”
The K&N Pro Series East will compete in a combination race at Iowa on May 21 against the West drivers.