Eddie MacDonald battled his way from deep in the field in both the K&N Pro Series East and American Canadian Tour events on Saturday as part of the big NASCAR Cup weekend at the Magic Mile. The three time winner fought an ill-handling car in the G-Oil 100 at the beginning of the race to post an impressive eighth place finish as the checkered flag flew. The Grimm Construction/ Hancock Electric Pontiac took the green flag in the 26th position due to the luck of the draw in the Bond Auto Parts ACT Invitational only to have the exciting run end in disappointment.
MacDonald started the 11th race in the K&N series in the 18th position with MacDonald saying, “It really was a surprise we didn’t qualify better. The car handled good but we just didn’t get it done to start where we wanted to be. But Rollie and I thought we would be okay for race, but obviously we had some problems right away.”
When the green flag waved the #71 was bouncing off the track in the turns then sliding up the track. “I had to drive in low in the turns to take the bounce out of it,” said the Rowley, Mass. driver. “It wasn’t doing that in practice the day before so to do it then was really strange. Rollie said it, and it’s true, that the track can change from day to day and that is probably happened. That might explain our poor qualifying run too. We knew we had to do something or we would be going a lap down soon.”
The team got just the break it needed when the caution flag waved on lap 20. Crew chief Rollie LaChance called the car into the pits for wedge, track bar, and shock adjustments. The car returned to the pits for more work so as not to go a lap down then returned to the track in the 34th position. “We desperately needed to make that stop and the car was better immediately. We also knew we had the mandatory halfway break so we could make further adjustments and get new right side tires.”
When the yellow waved on lap 48 for a wreck, MacDonald ran in 21st position. The crew went to work making more adjustments and bolting on two new right side Goodyear tires. “The changes helped a lot but we needed more because we were still tight in and through the center. The bounce was gone but wit was still touching. Rollie and the crew did a great job getting the car where it needed to be and I appreciate all the hard work.”
When the second half of the race resumed on lap 50, The Grimm Construction Chevy moved steadily through the pack to ride in the 16th position by lap 76 and into 14th by lap 91. A multi-car pile up on the backstretch with only eight laps remaining left the #71 with left side quarter panel damage when one of the spinning cars just caught the left side. The panel rubbed on the tire causing it to smoke badly. “Our spotter and crew looked at it and thought we could make it to the end without it blowing out and fortunately the thing held but it was smoking quite a bit.”
The red flag covered the track until clean up was completed to set the stage for a five lap shootout to the checkers. MacDonald started in 11th and was able to gain three more positions to finish eighth in what could only be described as a “Smoking Hot Finish.”
“You always want a better finish but after the problems that we had to fall back as far as we did, getting an eighth place run was pretty good. The team worked hard so now we have to go back to the shop tonight and start getting the car ready for our race at Dover this coming Friday night. We have some damage to repair but we will be ready. I want to thank all of our fans for coming out to support us. It really means a lot to the entire crew,” said MacDonald.
As soon as MacDonald got out of the East car, he was strapping himself into the ACT Late Model for the Bond Auto Parts 50 lap event. The two-time winner of the ACT Invitational was considered a heavy favorite to win despite drawing the 26th starting position in the 42 car field.
The Grimm construction/ Hancock Electric Pontiac wasted little time moving through the field, wowing the huge crowd with inside and outside three wide passing. The first caution flag waved on lap 11 with the #17 gaining 15 positions to ride in 11th place. Another yellow on lap 15 found MacDonald in eighth place after a spectacular three-wide pass on the inside in turn one.
“The car really ran great and I could go anywhere with it. I knew I had plenty of time to get to the front but we were going so good I just kept passing cars,” said Eddie Mac. On the 20th circuit, MacDonald stormed into second place behind leader and eventual winner Ray Parent. “I thought I would just ride for a while and save the tires. The other 17 was fast but I was just keeping pace. I knew we were in good shape or at least I thought we were.”
A spin on lap 26 brought out the caution and then the inexplicable happened as MacDonald restarted on the outside of Parent. “By the time we entered turn one the rear right tire just lost pressure and I almost wrecked it. By the time we got to the pits, we were already two laps down so we just pulled it into the garage to finish 39th. There was a huge hole in the center of the tire. I don’t know how or when it happened since I didn’t feel anything. It is disappointing because we had such a great car and it would have been fun racing Parent for the win. We will be racing Freddie Peterson’s Late Model at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburg, N.Y. in a couple of weeks and we are looking forward to that race.”