Eddie McDonald Wins Pittlite 125 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Bristol Motor Speedway

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Eddie MacDonald prepares for his qualifying run in the NASCAR K& Pro Series East.

Eddie MacDonald prepares for his qualifying run in the NASCAR K& Pro Series East.

The veteran took the rookie to school in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Eddie McDonald took the lead from rookie Ben Rhodes with two laps to go to win the PittLite 125 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.

After 54 starts, Eddit MacDonald celebrates his first series win.

After 54 starts, Eddit MacDonald celebrates his first series win.

McDonald won his first K&N Pro Series East race in nearly five years. Rhodes fell short of his first K&N Pro Series East win in his first 10 starts.

Rhodes won the pole and led 130 laps before a green-white-checker flag finish set up a duel with McDonald.

McDonald took the lead on lap 131 and held onto the lead over the final two laps of the race. “We had a really great car today right from the drop of the green,” said McDonald, the driver of the No. 71 Grimm Construction/National Multiple Sclerosis Society Chevrolet. “It was a little tight at the beginning, but at the end it was perfect. I started pushing a little bit with 15 or 20 (laps) to go and got up there which gave me the thought that on another restart we might be able to win this thing.”

Eddie MacDonald celebrates winning the PittLite 125 by taking a victory lap.

Eddie MacDonald celebrates winning the PittLite 125 by taking a victory lap.

Gray Gaulding passed Rhodes in the final laps to finish second. It matched his best K&N Pro Series East finish of his career.

“We started pretty decent, but my Krispy Kreme Chevrolet was just too tight at the end,” said Gaullding, the driver from Colonial Heights, Va. “It was a great day overall. It’s good to come in here and finish second at Bristol, but it just leaves (me) wondering if there was something more I could have done.”

Rhodes crossed the finish line in third place.

“The car was really good all day until the end when it got banged up,” said the driver from Louisville, Ky. “It’s just too bad we couldn’t get the win, but we’ll head to Greenville and try to get a win there.”

McDonald snapped a 53-race winless streak. The last time he won a K&N Pro Series East race was in September of 2009 at New Hampshire International Speedway. It was the seventh K&N Pro Series East win of his career.

“I feel awful for getting into Ben there,” said MacDonald. “I drove it in there a ton and the rear end snapped around on me. With the drought we’ve had we wanted to get the win really bad.”

TThe drivers are ready to go at the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The drivers are ready to go at the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Brennan Newberry was fourth, followed by Austin Hill in fifth.

Daniel Suarez entered the race at Bristol as the leader in the K&N Pro Series East standings. His car got a flat tire early in the race and he had to pit. He never recovered from the early pit stop and finished in 26th place.

Suarez won the first two races of the K&N Pro Series East season.

With his second-place finish, Gaulding took over the lead in the K&N Pro Series East standings after three races. He is four points ahead of Suarez. Gaulding is also the youngest driver, at 16 years, 1 month and five days, to lead the K&N Pro Series East standings.

The next race in the K&N Pro Series East is the Kevin Whitaker 150 at Greenville Pickens Speedway in South Carolina on March 22.


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