Max McLaughlin boasts one of the most diverse schedules for short track racing in 2020, as the 20-year-old racer will pilot at least five different racing machines this year.
Keith Kunz and McLaughlin will partner for select Midget races during the 2020 campaign, as first reported by Sprint Car & Midget Magazine on Wednesday. That adds to an already busy schedule featuring cars on both dirt and pavement, with and without fenders.
“I’ve always said if you’re able to win and run good in multiple race cars, it’s going to make you a better race car driver overall,” McLaughlin told Speed51. “I’m a firm believer that any seat time is valuable.”
McLaughlin’s primary racing duty will be competing in 13 ARCA Menards Series events with Hattori Racing Enterprises. Last year, McLaughlin finished fifth in ARCA Menards Series East standings with a win at Watkins Glen International to his credit.
Along with the new Midget opportunity with Keith Kunz Motorsports, McLaughlin will also play in the dirt with both a Big-Block Modified and an Outlaw Kart. The Midget will not be the only first-time racing opportunity for McLaughlin, as he will also make his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debut on March 21 at South Boston Speedway.
“We’re going to run the Keith Kunz midget stuff for five to seven or however many races we can get together,” said McLaughlin, outlining his plans. “We’re going to run 13 ARCA races with Hattori, a handful of races with Gary Putnam in the Modified. I’m going to be back with Heinke-Baldwin Racing in the Big-Block Modified.
“There’s a lot of cool stuff in the works. I also have the Outlaw Kart stuff, so I’m going to be driving five different types of cars this year. I think it’s going to be a really cool season.”
McLaughlin has always had an interest in competing in Midget racing, although that opportunity hasn’t been present until now. He is particularly excited to join forces with the highly successful Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports program.
“I’ve always had a lot of interest in midgets. I’ve always said I wanted to drive a midget and even told my mom years ago that it would be cool to drive for Keith one day.
“You see the drivers that come through that pipeline. The success that comes after that, it’s a really cool opportunity to be a part of that organization.”
McLaughlin is also eager to make his Tour Modified debut later this month. McLaughlin tested the Gary Putnam-prepared machine at Martinsville Speedway in January, and came away impressed with both the car and Putnam’s expertise.
“Gary Putnam is one of the smartest guys, not only in Modified racing but racing in general,” said McLaughlin. “He’s over at Ganassi, he’s a big part of their organization over there. I didn’t know Gary that well before the test, but man, he is really sharp.
“All the adjustments and everything I gave feedback-wise, the next time out the car was better and better every time. Seeing him know exactly what to do for what I was feeling was really good. I’m really excited for that, and going to South Boston this month.”
When the schedule allows, McLaughlin also looks forward to competing in an Outlaw Kart at Millbridge Speedway. McLaughlin finished third last weekend in the Appalachian Indoor Showdown in Wytheville, Virginia, and has shown plenty of strength in recent years in the machines.
“I think Harold [Wiggins] is a really cool guy, and he’s going to let me run that thing whenever both of our schedules allow. We’ll be making some starts in that as well. We ran third this past weekend at the Indoor Show. He’s a really cool guy and I enjoy making those races, really an R&D effort for Phantom Racing Chassis. We’ve come a long way with it to setting the track record at Millbridge and winning the TRD Showdown last year.”
While the schedule is already jam-packed for McLaughlin, he won’t turn down the chance to compete in even more races during the year. There are no plans for him to climb into a different vehicle such as a Super Late Model at this point, but he didn’t rule out the possibility if an offer presented itself.
“The Super Late Model is a really fun car to drive. I don’t really have the funding to bring to any race teams, so I just do the best with every opportunity that’s available. If someone came to me to run a Super Late Model, I’d be all for it. I love to race those cars. I think they’re super cool.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo