NEWBURYPORT – Though he won’t ever brag about it, Rowley native Eddie MacDonald can now say he’s beaten Jimmie Johnson in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
MacDonald placed 35th out of 43 drivers at this past Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a respectable showing for the veteran racer considering that he was competing against the best racers in the country.
Though he felt he could have done better, MacDonald said the weekend was a great experience altogether, and it was made better by the fact that he got to race in front of his family and friends in New England.
“It was great to have the whole New England support at the track, it was nice to hear them all cheering me on when they had the driver intros,” he said.
The Sprint Cup is NASCAR’s highest level of stock car racing, and for most drivers, getting the chance to compete is a major accomplishment. While MacDonald has been racing professionally for nearly two decades, Sunday marked his first foray into NASCAR’s top series, and though he recognized that his chances of winning were slim, he said his goal was to compete for the most laps he could and be there at the end.
To help maximize his chances, MacDonald’s crew chief employed a strategy where they would let the race leaders pit and then try to pick up a couple of spots later if a yellow caution flag came out. Had the plan come together, MacDonald would have gained a lot of ground, but unfortunately the caution never came, likely costing the team a few spots.
“If it worked out we would have been able to finish a lot higher, and in the end we may have lost a few spots we could have had,” MacDonald said. “But all in all it was a great experience and I learned a lot out there.”