Racing in NASCAR’s top development series, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, 34-year-old Eddie MacDonald is a man racing against boys (and girls.)
On a regular basis, MacDonald is one of maybe a handful of drivers in the field over the age of 25. Perceived as one of the few veterans of the series, the seven-time feature winner regularly goes up against the sport's rising stars such as Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Brett Moffitt.
So when MacDonald pulled off the feat of winning at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) one year ago, it caught the attention of many. Not only did he win, he did so by beating eventual champion and then-17-year-old Ben Rhodes on a late race restart. He only led two laps that race, but one of those two was the most important lap: the final one.
As the series now heads back to Bristol for the first time since his win on March 15, 2014, MacDonald is preparing to make his first start of the 2015 season. The race at Bristol is one that “The Outlaw” has had circled on his calendar since last season.
He may be one of only four drivers on the entry list over the age of 25, but MacDonald is out to prove again that older is better in "Thunder Valley."
“Bristol, especially where we won last year, was on our radar and we wanted to do that race,” MacDonald told Speed51.com powered by JEGS as he packed his bags for Bristol on Tuesday morning. “We tried to make sure that everything was prepared the best we could. It was a little easier just because we have such good notes from last year’s race. We’ve got a few ideas to try and hopefully we can go down there and have a good run.”
MacDonald’s win at Bristol couldn’t have come at a better time for his Grimm Racing team last season. Competing against some of the larger teams on the K&N East circuit with ties to the big leagues of NASCAR, he felt as though his team was losing ground and falling behind some of the top teams in the technology department.
With a new car, new setup and some new technology on his side, MacDonald’s win at Bristol proved to the short track racing world that a low-buck, single-car team could still get the job done.
“It being Bristol in itself was just a great accomplishment just to be able to win there in front of everyone, all of the Cup teams and Xfinity teams,” said MacDonald. “I have a lot of friends in those two series and it was good to be able to win there. It definitely came at a great time for our team. We had struggled for a few years and kind of fell behind on some of the technology and stuff, so to be able to come back and get a win on the big stage like Bristol was great for the whole team.”
MacDonald’s experiences racing at Bristol haven’t always been pleasant, but he’s improved in all three of his K&N East starts at the track. He finished 28th after being involved in an accident in 2012 and finished seventh in 2013 before coming out on top last season. Despite his mixed results, MacDonald says that Bristol is a track that he’s always looked forward to visiting.
“I’ve always loved going to Bristol. I think everyone that is involved in racing wants to race at Bristol and win there,” MacDonald said. “The first time we went there we destroyed a car, so it wasn’t quite my favorite track at the time but to be able to go back and win it last year made up for it. We went there last year with a newer car, newer setup and it paid off. It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks now.”
This year, MacDonald will return with that same exact No. 71 machine that he pulled into victory lane with at Bristol just over one year ago.
“It’s pretty much the same everything and hopefully the same results.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com