Eddie MacDonald knew what if felt like to visit victory lane in a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race, but before Saturday’s win in the PittLite 125 at Bristol Motor Speedway he had gone 53 races without a win in the series. The series veteran and short track star used a little late-race magic in the closing laps of Saturday’s event to win his first K&N Pro Series East event since winning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September of 2009.
“It’s pretty cool,” Macdonald said about his win. “We were getting pretty discouraged as a whole team. We know we’re capable of it, but we were just missing a few things.”
For a driver who had been successful in the series in the past with six wins during his career, that period of time without a win began to wear MacDonald and his team out. It became frustrating and was no longer fun for the Rowley, Mass. driver and his team.
“The most frustrating part is that when we’re not running good we’re working twice as hard trying to get better,” MacDonald said. “We spent endless hours at the shop trying to figure out, talking to people and trying to figure out how to get better. Then you go the track and can’t pull it off like down in Florida.”
The time in the shop doubled, the amount of calls to people searching for answers doubled, and when the end results didn’t reward their efforts, MacDonald wondered about his future racing in the series.
“We had two terrible finishes in Florida and we figured it was going to put us in such a big hole,” said MacDonald. “Then we kind of looked at it where if we had another mediocre run here (at Bristol), then it’d be so tough to even make anything out of it. We’re having a hard time finding crew help because it’s a lot of travel for someone up North. From having trouble finding a crew to not really running that great, we figured why are we going to kill ourselves to run mediocre?”
Could “The Outlaw," the veteran short track driver with a lower budget keep up with the big boys of NASCAR? Could he hold off the flock of motivated young guns searching for a career in the higher-levels of NASCAR?
MacDonald answered those questions with exclamation points on Saturday. The 33-year-old driver now looks towards the remainder of the 2014 season and hopes the momentum from his win at Bristol will translate into more success down the road.
“I think hopefully we’ll turn this around,” MacDonald said. “We’ll have to see what the rest of the year brings us schedule-wise. We don’t know exactly what we’ll do. To be able to get a win is just great, the whole team needed this.”
MacDonald, who is the only regular driver remaining from the old Busch North Series, knew it was going to be harder and harder to win these events as the years went on. Knowing that, MacDonald and long-time Crew Chief Rollie Lachance built a new car during the 2013 season to bring to select events.
That car ended up finishing second at Iowa Speedway in 2013 and was leading at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September before a flat tire caused heavy damage to his Grimm Racing No. 71. Over the winter, the team repaired that car and on Saturday the “new car” made its way to victory lane at Bristol.
“The new car definitely makes all the difference,” MacDonald said. “We were running some pretty old stuff, so to be able to update the fleet a little bit and to get a win is great.”
Following the win at Bristol, MacDonald planned to talk things over with his Russ Grimm-owned team to figure out their plans for the remainder of the season.
Whether MacDonald and his team chooses to continue running the full K&N East season, or if they decide to pick and choose events, “The Outlaw” has proven that he is back and is once again a force to be reckoned with on race day.