By: Dick Casey
Eddie MacDonald fought darkness and a wild field of drivers to post a seventh place finish in the American Canadian Tour Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday. In what can only be described as the most bizarre race ever staged at the Loudon, NH mile oval, the scheduled fifty lap event was mercilessly ended in darkness after completing just eighteen laps.
Eddie Mac posted the fourth fastest time in the morning practice and drew the 26thstarting position for the final race of the day at NHMS following the NASCAR trucks and Whelen modifieds. The Hancock Electric/EXIT Realty Chevy owned by Freddie Peterson won the event the last two Septembers and five championships overall with Eddie Mac confident another victory could be his.
“The car felt good in practice and I thought if we had some long green flag runs, I would be able to pick my way through the field and contend for the win at the end,” said the Rowley, Mass. veteran driver. “Unfortunately that never happened and it was just crazy out there. I was careful going through the field and I just don’t know what some guys were doing. We needed at least a ten lap run but we never came close to anything like that.”
Before the first lap was completed, three caution flags waved wasting 25 minutes with clean up and drivers not lining up properly. A nice crowd remained after the modified race to see the ACT feature but quickly left after the race was plagued with early cautions and delays. Ten yellow flags and two red flags stretched the time to two hours and as darkness enveloped the track, officials finally called an end to the spectacle after only eighteen laps were completed and three attempts to start the race failed. Perhaps the structure of the race should be evaluated if the ACT cars return to NHMS. Typically, slower cars are started in the front while the fastest cars start in the rear of the field. It appears that the leaders are not equipped to handle the high speed, demanding turns of the mile oval.
Despite the fiasco in front, Eddie Mac made his way through the grid carefully from the 26th starting position to the 17th position by lap seven. By lap 14, after a series of yellow flags and red flag, Eddie Mac rode in the eighth spot and into seventh on lap 18, Eddie Mac’s luck ran out in missing the carnage all around as a car careened into the right front and flattened the tire. As the caution waved at the completion of the 18th lap, Eddie Mac pitted then returned to the track as darkness loomed over the oval. Officials hoped to get to lap 26 to make it an official race but a long red flag followed by three failed attempts to restart forced officials to end the melee. Eddie Mac was awarded seventh as officials decided to make the race official.
“It was just an awful mess and I feel sorry for the fans and all the time, effort, and money that went into this race,” said a disappointed driver. “I don’t know what was going on up front but guys were running three and sometimes four wide in the turns and you just cannot do that here. Plus guys would not line up so that added to the time wasted. It is usually a great race but tonight it was just a disaster.”
“Our team owes a great deal to our car owner Freddie Peterson and our K&N owner Rob Grimm for all the support. Great thanks to our long time sponsor Kenny and Scott Thompson from Hancock Electric. Derek Beatrice from Beatrice Associates EXIT Realty and Annie Mac Home Mortgages are great sponsors and we thank them. Of course, Rollie and I depend on our dedicated crew and they do a fantastic job. Thanks go to all our fans that turned out today.”
Eddie Mac will compete in the final NASCAR K&N race of the season on Friday, September 29 at Dover International Speedway. He will also drive the late model and super late model at both the DAV Classic at Seekonk on October 6&7, and also at Thompson’s World Series of Racing on Oct. 13&14.