NASCAR-BGN: Mclaughlin's Hopes for Victory Spoiled By Crash
27 April 1999TALLADEGA, AL - Goulds Pumps NASCAR Busch Series driver Mike McLaughlin has built up a reputation of being one of the fastest drivers in the series over the past few years. With his horsepower being supplied by Ron Hutter and his race car body being hung by Charlie Bruenholzl, McLaughlin has qualified in the top ten for the last ten restrictor plate races. Saturday's Touchstone Energy 300 was no different for McLaughlin as he qualified in the sixth position and displayed his power early, leading 14 of the first 41 laps.
On the drop of the green flag, McLaughlin hit the gas and grabbed the lead on lap 24 of 113. McLaughlin had a rocket ship underneath him and with a little luck, he knew he could win the race. The first bit of luck came for McLaughlin on lap 53, just two laps before he was scheduled to make a fuel stop. McLaughlin was the only car to stay on the track on lap 28 when his competitors pitted under caution. His fuel tank was nearing empty, when Adam Petty brought out a timely caution for McLaughlin. During the caution, McLaughlin and the rest of the field made pit stops. McLaughlin lost ground in the pits when Kevin Grubb blocked McLaughlin in his pit by not pulling all the way into his pit stall.
The few extra seconds on pit road proved costly for McLaughlin as he restarted the race in 16th instead of in the top-five. On lap 68, McLaughlin's luck ran out, as he was collected in a 20-car pileup, causing extensive damage to the Goulds Pumps Chevrolet. Following 6 laps of repairs behind pit wall, McLaughlin returned to action. Fortunately most of the other 20 cars in the accident were damaged beyond repair and McLaughlin managed to salvage a 21st place finish.
"This was a real disappointing day for our team," McLaughlin said. Once again, we had a car capable of winning a restrictor plate race and we got caught up in a big wreck. I have to hand it to my team for giving me a great car, one day we are going to win one of these things."
Despite the accident, McLaughlin remained in fourth place in the point standings.
Terry Labonte edged Joe Nemechek for the win in a photo finish. The NASCAR Busch Series will now head to California Speedway for the Auto Club 200 on Saturday at 2:00pm EDT. ABC and MRN will provide