Winning isn’t foreign to the McLaughlin family. “Magic Shoes” Mike McLaughlin did a lot of it in the Northeast on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, and now his 15-year-old son, Max, is doing a lot of it in the southern part of the United States on dirt.
The younger McLaughlin scored six wins at North Carolina’s Millbridge Speedway in 2014, and already has a win there in 2015 as well.
But it was still a big surprise when McLaughlin pulled into victory lane at Carolina Speedway (NC) behind the wheel of a UMP Modified this past Saturday, beating some of the best in the business like Kyle Strickler and Derrick Ramey.
Now McLaughlin is looking to do it again this upcoming Friday and Saturday at Friendship Speedway (NC) in the $10,000-to-win N.C. Modified Nationals live on 51 TV.
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“If we can get it done Saturday that would be huge,” McLaughlin told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “To get that kind of money for our race team would be such a big help. That would be awesome.”
McLaughlin said he already was feeling confident for the N.C. Modified Nationals even before getting the win last week, but now that he’s beaten a couple of guys considered to be top contenders for the $10,000 check his confidence level is through the roof.
“I honestly think we can do it,” he said. “We tested there last week and we were pretty fast. But now after (the win) I have a lot of confidence, and I believe that this Elite Chassis can get it done. The first thing we need to do is make a good qualifying lap. If that happens it kind of sets you up for a good night.”
Between his win at Carolina Speedway and his win at Millbridge, McLaughlin feels like he has momentum on his side. If all goes well at Millbridge on Wednesday night, McLaughlin could be looking for his fourth win in a row. And he’ll have to beat some top quality drivers once again, too.
“We’ll see what we can do,” he said. “There’s some big names heading down this week like Rico Abreu, Christopher Bell and I believe Kenny Wallace.”
While McLaughlin’s career is still in its early stages, he knows that a win on Saturday night at Friendship Speedway would be the biggest win of his career by far. It’s a win that many of the drivers he’ll be up against want badly. In order to get that win, McLaughlin will turn to two people for advice: his father and his car owner.
His car owner is Nick Hoffman, the 2012 Gator National champion at Volusia Speedway Park (FL), and the 2012 UMP National Championship race winner at Eldora Speedway (OH).
“None of this would be possible without Nick Hoffman,” McLaughlin said. “He’s been a great figure for everything. I travel with him to a lot of the big races in the summer. It’s his car that I’m running. It’s his backup car.”
His father is the 1988 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, and a 16-time race winner in the division. But that’s on asphalt.
“Magic Shoes” started his career on dirt, and won a track championship in 1980 in a big block Modified at New York’s Rolling Wheels Speedway. It’s that experience that Max leans on often.
“He actually started in big block Modifieds up north so he’s fairly familiar with these cars and he’s a huge help everywhere we go,” McLaughlin said. “He’s always keeping me up and keeping me confident when we have a bad day. Without him this wouldn’t be possible. He’s amazing.”
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-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Max McLaughlin Facebook