The debut of the new #71 Grimm Racing Chevy in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Visit Hampton Va. 175 at Langley Speedway showed great promise until transmission trouble struck on a lap 52 restart. The 23 car field was set by points when rain wiped out qualifying on the .4 of a mile oval with Eddie MacDonald starting seventh then riding comfortably in the fifth position before problems arose. The Grimm Construction/National Multiple Sclerosis Society entry finished in ninth place after a green/white/checker extended the race to 177 laps.
“The new car was great and I really thought I had something to contend with for the win,” said the disappointed driver after the race. “Everyone worked so hard to get this car ready and it felt super during practice on Friday and then during our two practices on Saturday. The car had a lot of forward bite and really turned well in the corners so we were very optimistic for a top finish.”
When the green flag waved MacDonald quickly settled into fifth place as the field ran single file in the early going with Eddie Mac saying. “The car was driving pretty well and I was just taking care of the tires since they had to last the whole race. It cut the center well and the only bad thing, if you could call it that, was a little snug driving off turn two. Overall though, I was very happy with the car.”
On a lap 42 restart, MacDonald raced the #00 of Cole Custer door-to-door for seven exciting laps before Custer fell back in line. The second of twelve caution flags (for sixty-two laps) flew on lap 52 and that is when trouble struck with Eddie Mac saying, “We were coming to the green flag and I was running fifth but when I shifted into second gear the gears just started grinding and I was lucky not to get dumped. I knew second was gone so I had to try to restart in third gear and that didn’t work out too well. I couldn’t get going on the restarts and that hurt our chances plus the car was getting really tight.”
MacDonald managed to hold onto eighth place for the next three restarts but the fourth yellow on lap 86 and restart on lap 91 sent the #71 spinning down the front stretch. “The car wouldn’t go quick enough in third gear and someone ran into me and sent me around. I don’t know who it was but I really can’t blame whoever it was. We decided to pit to try to loosen the car up so we made a track bar adjustment. We had to restart 15th but the adjustment helped the car and we pitted two more times and it kept getting better but it is so hard to pass anybody, it was pretty frustrating. If we didn’t make the adjustments, we would have lost more positions so we had to do it.”
On the lap 155 restart, Eddie Mac ran in the 11th position and into eighth by lap 162 but a caution on lap 169 set up the G/W/C finish that cost #71 a position. “We had to start on the outside and with no second gear; there was no way to hold off the #99 so we settled for ninth. It wasn’t as good as we hoped but it was a good point’s day (sixth in the standings) and the car didn’t get too torn up. I was very happy with the new car and think we can have some great finishes with it. This car was built specifically for our series and is a lot of fun to drive. We should have it ready to go for the next race in Ohio.”
Speed will televise the Visit Hampton Va. 175 on Thursday, June 27th at 3pm. The eighth of the scheduled fifteen races for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will take the green flag in the NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Columbus Motor Speedway on Saturday, July 13.