Eddie MacDonald and the Grimm Racing team rebounded from a blown motor in practice on Thursday for the K&N Pro Series East New England 125 at NHMS but could not overcome a late race penalty to finish in ninth place on Friday. The NEMO-New England Mechanical Overlay Chevy ran in the fourth position when a lap 78 caution gave MacDonald the opportunity to pit for four new tires and return to the track as the last car on the lead lap. When the green flag waved, MacDonald was penalized for an improper line-up forcing a drive- through penalty. The Grimm Construction Chevy returned to the track
in the 28th position one lap down. The #71 quickly passed the leader Brett Moffitt to get the lap back and began a charge to the front but ran out of laps.
A series of errors appear to have contributed to the penalty. The new scoreboard did not post the running order, the computer generated listing of positions was not working, and notice of position was not received by the team. Consequently MacDonald was penalized for passing four cars on the back stretch before the green flag was shown.
“We knew we had to start at the tail of the longest line but we did not get any information so I just started next to the #85,” said a very confused MacDonald after the race. “After changing the motor and fighting our way to the front then have the penalty called on us was really disappointing. I thought we were in the right spot so it was a real surprise when it
“The thing that was so frustrating was that I had no tools to tell Eddie where to start,” said crew chief Rollie LaChance. “Without the scoreboard and with the computer down, we did not know where to go. It was unfortunate because we definitely had a top five car and who knows what could have happened at the end.”
The weekend started on a sour note when a rod blew through the block halfway through the first practice while MacDonald was running twelfth. A decision was made not to attempt to replace the motor in time for qualifying but to focus of getting everything right for the race on Friday. The move proved to be the right one as MacDonald fought his way from his provisional 33rd place start on the grid and into fourth before the ill-fated penalty.
MacDonald was running 16th then pitted for fuel and fender repair on a lap 46 caution with the veteran racer saying, “The car was really good and we were in a good position running fifth and hoping to get another caution around lap 75 so we could take on the new tires. We got exactly what we wanted with the caution on lap 78 were ready to contend for the win. I know we had a top five car at least and it would have been fun to see what we could have done at the end but it was not to be. I don’t know if we could have challenged for the win but I think we could have had a shot. This team worked so hard to get us ready and I am really thankful for all the effort. It was a tough finish but what can you say other than we will get them next time.”
Even after the disappointing finish LaChance said, “I was really happy with the car. We did not get any laps on it but it ran great. I know we had something for them at the end. The crew worked great getting the new motor in and setting the car up to run so well.”
MacDonald did receive the “Move of the Race Award” for passing the most cars from his starting position. With the ninth place finish, the team moved up one spot to eighth in the points race.
The team will race next in the inaugural Jegs 150 at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway on Saturday, July 23. The NHMS race can be seen on Speed on August 4 at 6 p.m.