MacDONALD SUSPENDED INDEFINATELY FROM BUSCH EAST SERIES By Mike Twist
Popular Driver and His Crew Chief Respond to Accusations
Eddie MacDonald is one of the easiest going young racers in the county. But his 2006 season has been anything but that.
NASCAR has announced that MacDonald and his crew chief Rollie LaChance have been suspended indefinitely following a situation in technical inspection in last Friday’s NASCAR Busch East Series event at New Hampshire International Speedway. MacDonald crossed the finish line fifth in the event, but was disqualified after the post-race inspection process.
Late this week, NASCAR issued the following statement:
“NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series driver Eddie MacDonald has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR Grand National Division events, as the result of a rules infraction during post-race inspection on July 15 at New Hampshire International Speedway. MacDonald’s crew chief, Roland LaChance, has also been indefinitely suspended from Grand National Division events.
”MacDonald and LaChance violated section 12-4-A of the 2006 NASCAR Rule Book: actions detrimental to stock car racing, and section 12-4-L: failure to tear down the engine for inspection when requested to do so by NASCAR officials.”
2005 ended with a victory for Eddie MacDonald...
Reportedly, NASCAR found that a template used around the exhaust port areas of the manifold did not fit as required. The car was judged to have not met the rulebook and at that point, the #48 team of MacDonald accepted their disqualification and would not allow the inspection process to continue, which could result in the seizure of any non-conforming parts.
“The team, at that point, refused tech for two reasons,” said a statement released from the team on Friday morning. “One, the engine was borrowed and, second, the team could not financially afford to reimburse the owner for the cost of the heads if taken…Although, both driver and crew chief wanted to cooperate with NASCAR, they could not.
“The engine's history dates back to a top running team in the series that is no longer competing in the Busch East Series. The engine was purchased when the team ceased operation. After the disqualification, LaChance contacted the engine builder and was told, "It could have been a tolerance issue and he had not had this problem before."
"We borrowed that motor with the promise we would return it in the shape we got it,” said LaChance. “I couldn't take the risk that the heads would be confiscated. Financially, we are not in a position to replace the heads if taken. So we refused tech and we were found to be in violation of rule L. I must say though, the motor issues at NHIS were not known to anyone on the team or the motor owner.”
"We had no knowledge that anything was wrong with the motor,” said MacDonald. “When you buy one from a reputable builder, you expect it to be legal. I really feel terrible about the whole thing. It did violate the rules but as far as we knew everything was fine.”
MacDonald had entered the event weekend at Loudon ranked ninth in the Busch East standings with a best finish this year of fifth at Holland Speedway (NY). The #48 team, which was formed less than 10 days before the tour’s season opener at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, has had anything but an easy season so far.
MacDonald and LaChance started the new team after their previous racing home, Triple Crown Racing, closed its doors due to legal problems encountered by car owner Jerry Morello. The trio had high hopes for 2006 after winning the final race of last season in October at Thompson Speedway.
The #48 team recruited a battery of local sponsors to help with the bills, borrowed a truck and trailer and patched together a crew of volunteers on short notice and qualified third for the Greenville race. Since then, the team has had a strong of bad luck which even included qualifying on the outside pole at Thompson and having an electrical problem right at the start of the race.
“With everything we have been through this season, this is really tough to take,” said MacDonald. “I want to thank our fans for their continued support and for our sponsors. New England Mechanical Overlay, Hancock Electric, Tri-State Roofing, Hanover Place Auto Body, and Greg Horrocks really stepped up when things were looking pretty bad for us money-wise.”
"Despite the many hurdles, this team has run well, although the finishes may not show it,” said LaChance. “Go on the web to check our practice and qualifying times and see what we have accomplished. Not bad for a team with no paid help. Even our run at NHIS had little to do with the motor. The car performed well because it was getting down and through the corner and the driver ran it there."
The New Hampshire race was the first time this season that the powerplant in question had been used by the MacDonald team.
What lies ahead next for MacDonald and his team is a question mark. The talented young racer appears to be on the outside looking in and while his crew chief accepts NASCAR’s position, the penalty is frustrating for all who are involved.
"I understand NASCAR's reasoning for this very severe penalty,” said LaChance. “You can't have someone deciding when or where they take tech, but unfortunately, as we have said, we were not financially in a position to comply. I just wish NASCAR would have considered rule K that states the violation could have been vacated if proven that the circumstances were beyond the competitor's control.
"We understand NASCAR had to make a decision to insure fairness to all competitors. That is their obligation. In hopes to put this situation to rest, there will be no appeal. If anyone has any questions, they may contact me.”
Speed51.com will continue to follow this story as it develops.
...but 2006 has been a year of bad luck and frustration for the young driver.