LOUDON — Seventeen-year-old Jesse Little of Sherrill’s Ford, N.C., and local favorite Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Mass., had themselves a “look-what-I-found” 1-2 finish in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Granite State 100 Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Little, son of former Sprint Cup driver Chad Little, and MacDonald were well positioned to pick up the pieces when Brandon Jones tried to squeeze under leader Nick Drake exiting Turn 3 on the final lap and instead sent both cars careening into the wall in a cloud of smoke.
“I knew something like that could happen and I’ll be damned if I didn’t end up here in victory lane,” Little said. “The last couple of laps I was in defense mode trying to keep Eddie from getting by me. I saw that the 33 car (Jones) was going to go for it and I didn’t think he was going to make it.”
“It’s my Mom’s birthday, so it’s something I’m never going to forget,” Little said. “It’s truly amazing.”
The win was Little’s second on the K&N Pro Series East circuit.
Drake took the lead on lap 90 — two laps before the race was red-flagged for a hard wreck in Turn 1. Jones was alongside him on the front row on the restart and the duo got away better than front row occupants on two earlier restarts. There were eight cautions in all, including a competition yellow at the halfway mark for minor adjustments.
Jones started seventh on the grid, two spots ahead of MacDonald. At the halfway mark, Jones was running fifth and MacDonald was biding his time in 11th.
Ben Rhodes, 17, of Louisville, Ky., started on the pole and led 15 of the first 25 laps before he was overtaken by Gray Gaulding. Gaulding held the lead until lap 79 when a deflated right front tire did him in.
The sparks flew when the green came back out on lap 83. Rhodes started slowly and got scrubbed by Cale Conley, who had risen from 30th to third. The scramble sprang Drake, Jones and Little, who gained ground through Turns 1 and 2.
Further back, MacDonald in the Grimm Construction/ National MS Society No. 71, took advantage of the bounce-around and with a four-wide move, got up within striking distance of the leaders.
Conley finished third, two car lengths ahead of Jay Beasley and Chad Finley. Positions 6-10 went Ronnie Bassett Jr., who started 26th, Austin Hill, Gaulding, Brodie Kostecki and 15-year-old Kaz Grala of Westborough, Mass.
John Salemi of Nashua started 29th in the Envirotek USA No. 63 and finished 20th.
Starting position in parentheses
1. Jesse Little (2) Sherrill’s Ford, N.C.
2. Eddie MacDonald (9) Rowley, Mass.
3. Cale Conley (30) Vienna, W.Va.
4. Jay Beasley (20) Las Vegas
5. Chad Finley (3) DeWitt, Mich.
6. Ronnie Bassett Jr. (26) Winston-Salem, N.C.
7. Austin Hill (13) Winston, Ga.
8. Gray Gaulding (5) Colonial Heights, Va.
9. Brodie Kostecki (19) Perth, Australia
10. Kaz Grala (28) Westborough, Mass.
11. Kyle Benjamin (11) Easley, S.C.
12. Matt Tifft (14) Hinckley, Ohio
13 Trey Hutchens (22) Lexington, N.C.
14. Kenzie Ruston (24) El Reno, Okla.
15. David Garbo (25) Stonington, Conn.
16. Cameron Hayley (8) Calgary Alberta
17. Anderson Bowen (27) Suwanee, Ga.
18. Giles Thornton (31) Whitefish, Mont.
19. Jeremy Burns (16) Simpsonville, S.C.
20. John Salemi (29) Nashua