BRISTOL, Tenn. – Veteran Eddie MacDonald showed a little late-race mastery Saturday afternoon and brought home the winning trophy from Bristol Motor Speedway.
The 33-year-old driver from Rowley, Mass., took the lead during the green-white-checkered finish to the PittLite 125 and held off Gray Gaulding and Ben Rhodes to win the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at “The Last Great Colosseum.”
It’s MacDonald’s first win since September of 2009 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the seventh of his career.
The rookie Rhodes, 17, was looking for his first career win in his 10th start. He won the 21 Means 21 Pole Award in qualifying Thursday and led every lap Saturday up until the final restart. A late wreck set of the extended finish that pushed the race to 132 laps.
MacDonald qualified 13th and steadily worked his way to the front on the high-banked half-mile. He took second on Lap 120 and got past Rhodes for the lead heading into turn three on the penultimate lap. Gaulding also got past Rhodes at the finish to take second.
Brennan Newberry and Austin Hill rounded out the top five.
Patrick Staropoli finished sixth, followed by Dave Garbo Jr., Brandon Jones, Matt Tifft and Michael McGuire.
Daniel Suarez, who won the first two races of the season, pitted out of the top 10 late in the race for a flat tire and wound up 26th. His misfortune allowed Gaulding to take the points lead by four over Suarez and six over Rhodes.