|New Hampshire Int'l Speedway - July 14th|
Team Responds to
NASCAR Ruling following the July 14th NHIS Race
After NASCAR handed down its decision to indefinitely suspend Eddie MacDonald and Rollie LaChance from participating in the Busch East Series Grand National Division for violation of rule 12-4-A and section 12-4-L, the team feels an obligation to its supporters and sponsors, and not its critics, to address the situation.
During the post-race inspection after the New England 125 at New Hampshire International Speedway, NASCAR disqualified the #48 race team, negating its fifth place finish, for an unapproved change to the engine, namely the location of the exhaust ports. After placing the template on the head, NASCAR stated the change was in violation of rule 20c-5.6.1-I. At that point, officials wanted to confiscate the heads, which would only be returned if they passed further inspection.
The team, at that point, refused tech for two reasons. 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. MacDonald and LaChance formed MacDonald Motorsports just days before the start of the season when a situation developed beyond their control when they lost their major sponsor. The team has scrambled to get sponsors and has operated on a race-to-race basis since that time. Although, both driver and crew chief wanted to cooperate with NASCAR, they could not.
"We borrowed that motor with the promise we would return it in the shape we got it. 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," said LaChance.
After the race MacDonald stated, "We had no knowledge that anything was wrong with the motor. 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. With everything we have been through this season, this is really tough to take. 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."
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."
LaChance also stated that he never tried to refit the template to know if there were any tolerance. LaChance also stressed that this race was the first time the motor in question has been used. For all the previous races this season, their Butler-MacMaster powerplant was run and the team is very proud of its performance.
Lachance was quick to add, "Despite the many hurdles, this team has run well, although the finishes may not show it. Go on the web to check our practice and qualifying times (www.eastseries.com) 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."
"I understand NASCAR's reasoning for this very severe penalty. 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," reasoned LaChance.
While the team hopes to be back racing soon, LaChance admits, "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."
NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH EAST SERIES
TIME OF RACE: 1 hour, 32 minutes, 11
Media Contact: Jennifer MacDonald - firstname.lastname@example.org