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NASCAR BGN: McLaughlin Heads to Charlotte With Points Lead

18 May 1998

CHARLOTTE, NC-Busch Grand National points leader Mike McLaughlin has been looking forward to the Carquest Auto Parts 300 for a long time. As with most drivers, there is a special feeling about racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the home of most of the Busch Grand National teams. All eyes in the motorsports world will be focused on Charlotte come Saturday afternoon and McLaughlin would love to be sitting in Victory Lane after 300 miles.

"I really love to race at Charlotte," McLaughlin said. "To be able to win the race this weekend would be the highlight of my career. There are lots of tracks I love to race at, but there is something special about Charlotte Motor Speedway."

Over the last 3 races, McLaughlin has been the most consistent driver on the series; recording finishes of 3rd, 7th and 3rd again. He has taken a 10-point lead over Matt Kenseth and hopes to add to his lead this weekend. McLaughlin knows what it will take to accomplish that goal.

"We are going to have to have a good handling race car and a consistent race from the whole team," McLaughlin said. "More so than any other track, the asphalt is very sensitive to temperature changes and the handling of the car can go away in a matter of laps. I have a ton of faith in the ability of my race team and I know they will give me a great race car."

With over 60 drivers expected to show up for qualifying, including many Winston Cup stars, the competition level will be at its highest level of the year. Qualifying up front will be even tougher this weekend when the Winston Cup stars entered will draw upon their many years of experience to guide them to the front of the Busch race. McLaughlin realizes the Winston Cup drivers will be tough competition, but he isn't about to back away from the challenge.

'Having Nemechek, Martin, Burton, Spencer, and all the other Winston Cup guys just makes it more exciting for me and the Goulds Pumps Racing Team," McLaughlin said. "It doesn't change our strategy, we will still prepare for the race just the same, but it definitely adds to the excitement level of everyone involved."

McLaughlin also has a lot of faith in the car he will take to battle on Saturday. The car is a proven commodity with 3 races under its belt already this season; Rockingham, Darlington and Texas.

"This is a really good race car we are going to race this weekend, it responds well to chassis adjustments and should do well for us on Saturday," McLaughlin said. "We are going to use the results of our Charlotte test a few weeks ago, make some changes and hit the track wide open on Thursday morning."

With the level of competition, nothing will come easy this weekend, but Mike McLaughlin knows he has the support of Goulds Pumps and a great racing team behind him. With a little bit of racing luck, he might just end up in Victory Lane on Saturday about 4:00pm. So if your sitting around the house on Saturday afternoon, turn the television on to WTBS, when you see the #34 Goulds Pumps Chevrolet on the screen, you can rest assured that a lot of hard work has gone into putting him in the position he is in.