Thirty six NASCAR K&N Pro Series East cars took the green flag in the Blue Ox 100 at Richmond International Raceway on Thursday with Eddie MacDonald in the unenviable 33rd starting position. When the checkered flag waved at the end of the 100 lap (75 miles) race the Grimm Construction Chevy scored an impressive fourth place finish.
“We needed that finish after the last couple of races,” said a very pleased driver. “We had a terrible qualifying attempt. The front of the car was hitting the track and it was smoking quite a bit. We had to start the race that way since the cars are impounded after qualifying.”
MacDonald’s time was only 33rd fastest and had to take a provisional spot to make the field with hopes the car would run well enough until the team could make adjustments during the first caution. Their wish came to be with the leader only 20 car length’s behind the #71 as the first caution flag waved on lap 46. Two critical moves were made in the pits that propelled MacDonald through the field for the remaining laps.
“The car was hitting the track and washing up the nose in the turns and that killed any speed we had,” said MacDonald. “Rollie (LaChance) asked permission from the NASCAR official to raise the hood to put in one round of wedge on each side and the request was granted. We knew that would lift the car enough to stop dragging on the surface and it worked perfectly. I could drive the car in the corners and had plenty of speed off the turns.”
The second critical move involved the hood pins. Richmond is only .75 of a mile so the pace car speed around the oval does not allow much time for under the hood adjustments. With the pace car leading the field out of turn four LaChance instructed the crew to replace only two hood pins knowing the official would order the #71 back to pit road to replace the rest of the pins. However, the move allowed MacDonald to get back on the track just ahead of the pace car and not go a lap down.
MacDonald was 23rd on the lap 53 restart and in 11th place after the lap 80 caution saying, “The adjustments definitely helped. It is tough to get around cars here but the car kept getting better the longer we ran. We decided to stay out during the caution and not tweak it anymore and that made all the difference. After the final caution, I was able to pass a number of cars to get to fourth. Rollie made a great call on the pit stop and the crew did a super job making the adjustments and getting me out before the pace car. If we went down a lap there it would have been a completely different outcome.”
A multi-car wreck on lap 88 brought out the red flag with the veteran driver saying,” I think it was the #07 just got me in the left rear but not enough to spin me. We definitely lucked out because a lot of cars behind me were right in the middle of it. You need a little luck and tonight we had it on our side. I knew the last five laps would be tough but we had the car for it.”
The green flag waved with only four laps to go with MacDonald in seventh place. The #71 quickly passed two cars on the restart and with only two laps to go passed the #11 car after a door to door battle to take the fourth spot and secure the team’s best finish this season. The run vaulted Eddie Mac back into fifth place in the point’s race.
.”Getting fourth place after the day we had is awesome” said Eddie Mac. “As I said, we really needed this. It is great for morale and I am pleased we did it with so many of the Grimm family and friends that made the trip down from Waymart, Pa. The support the team gets from “Grimm Nation” is fantastic. I know they are enjoying this as much as we are down here in the pits. Hopefully we can support them when we are part of the “MS Warriors” team in the May 5 National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Walk around Pocono Speedway.”
After a hectic few weeks, the team has a little time to catch its breath. The next K&N race will be on June 1 at the legendary Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston Salem, N.C. for the NASCAR Hall of Fame 150.