NASCAR BGN: McLaughlin Keeps his Title of Road Racing King; Finishes Second
30 June 1998WATKINS GLEN, NY - Mike McLaughlin, the road racer? If one didn't know better, they might bet that McLaughlin was a road racer by trade instead of a top NASCAR driver. For the fourth straight year, McLaughlin, driver of the Goulds Pumps Chevrolet recorded a top-five finish in the Lysol 200 at Watkins Glen International. McLaughlin finished second to true road racer Ron Fellows here Sunday afternoon.
McLaughlin and his veteran Goulds Pumps Racing Team brought the same car here that won last season's race and almost pulled off a stunning victory at his home track. The car had sat idle in the Team 34 Racing Shops since last season and with a few adjustments was ready for action again this year. The car was fast from the start of practice and McLaughlin recorded the third fastest time during time trials. McLaughlin and the team were ready for action now.
Following a visit to the Goulds Pumps Hospitality tent, McLaughlin made final preparations for the battle. McLaughlin escaped near disaster on the first lap as pole sitter, Boris Said, spun out of control in front of the 43-car field. After regrouping, McLaughlin quickly worked his way back to the third position. As it became obvious Ron Fellows had the dominant car and the road racing talent to go along with it, the teams scrambled to find a pit strategy to place their cars in front of Fellows.
McLaughlin's veteran crew made two quick pit stops during the race and settled in for the final laps. All that was left was for "Magic Shoes" to work his magic and bring home a strong finish. Over the last 15 laps, McLaughlin found his rhythm and worked his way from 5th to 2nd when the checkered flag fell to signal the end of the day. He couldn't catch winner Fellows, but McLaughlin cut Matt Kenseth's Busch Grand National points lead to 20 points.
"We had a great race car once again today," an exhausted McLaughlin said. "It's truly amazing what our racing team has been able to accomplish here the last few years. Our car wasn't quite light enough in the right places to win the race, but I'm real excited to finish in second to such a great road racer like Ron Fellows."
The race capped off an exciting week in which McLaughlin made 7 different autograph appearances around his hometown area of Waterloo, NY and Watkins Glen. McLaughlin signed over 4,700 autographs throughout the week. On Thursday, McLaughlin also had the opportunity to fly in an F-16 Fighter jet with the 174th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard.
McLaughlin and the Goulds Pumps Racing Team will head to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for racing action this Sunday at 1:00pm Eastern. The Nashville Network and Motor Racing Network will provide live coverage.