NASCAR-BGN: McLaughlin Powers His Way to 5th Straight Top-Ten Finish
2 June 1998DOVER, DE-If you were to look up the word momentum in the dictionary today, you might find a picture of Mike McLaughlin and his Goulds Pumps Racing Team. Together they have recorded 5 straight top-ten finishes in the Busch Grand National Series. Saturday's MBNA Platinum 200 became the fifth straight race, when McLaughlin drove his way to a 5th place finish. The strong run of races, coupled with an accident on Saturday by the second place driver in the point standings, Matt Kenseth, has allowed McLaughlin to build a 113 point lead in the Series Championship race.
McLaughlin, a former winner at Dover, started the weekend off on a high note by qualifying his #34 Goulds Pumps Chevrolet in the 6th position on Friday. Following qualifying, his veteran pit crew worked hard during the final practice to make the car stable and fast for the 200-mile race on Saturday. With its unique concrete surface, the track can be very demanding on the race car drivers.
As McLaughlin climbed into his Goulds Pumps Chevrolet for the start of the race Saturday, temperatures were approaching 95 degrees. McLaughlin knew it would be a demanding day, but he was ready for the challenge. McLaughlin began to move forward from the drop of the green flag. Quickly he settled into the top-five, a position he would hold for most of the day. The first half of the race was run caution free. As teams were deciding when to pit for tires and fuel, the Goulds Pumps team stayed on the track long enough to move into the lead for laps 103 and 104 and gain 5 bonus points before pitting.
The Goulds Pumps Team pulled off a super stop and returned McLaughlin to the race. Action continued until lap 136 when Kenseth wrecked in turn one. Following another round of pit stops, McLaughlin was ready for the final charge to the front. McLaughlin fought hard, but had to settle for 5th place as the checkered flag waved over the field.
"We had another great race car, the whole Goulds Pumps team has done a wonderful job all year giving me top race cars," McLaughlin said. "We are being real consistent right now and that is what you look for as a race car driver, hopefully we can keep the streak going in Richmond."
Dale Earnhardt Jr., held off Bobby Hillin to win his second race of the season.
The Busch Series now moves to Richmond International Raceway for action this Friday night at 7:30pm EDT. ESPN and MRN will provide live coverage of the event. McLaughlin spent time testing at Richmond last week in preparation for battle on the tough short track.