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NASCAR BGN: McLaughlin Sets Sights on Visiting Victory Lane in South Boston

23 July 1998

SOUTH BOSTON, VA - The South Boston Speedway has been a very comfortable place to be for Goulds Pumps Chevrolet driver Mike McLaughlin the past few years. Sure the temperature may reach into the 90's at race time, but McLaughlin has managed to stay cool enough inside his Team 34 race cars to record finishes of 2nd, 2nd, and 8th the past three years. With a smooth handling race car and the support of his veteran racing team, McLaughlin should again be a contender to visit victory lane at the tricky .400 mile oval.

McLaughlin will also be looking to regain some of the points he lost in a collision started by lapped traffic at California Speedway. McLaughlin entered the race in first place in the Busch Grand National Points race and exited in 3rd place, some 82 points behind Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"I have always managed to run well at South Boston, hopefully that trend will continue this year," McLaughlin said. "It is going to be real key for us to qualify up front, with mandatory pit stop rules this race."

The short South Boston Speedway reminds McLaughlin of the short tracks he cut his teeth on racing modifieds in the Northeast. It was during these years that McLaughlin earned the nickname, "Magic Shoes." McLaughlin learned long ago of the importance of good footwork on the gas and brake pedals on the short tracks.

"On tracks like South Boston, you have to be extra careful to take care of your equipment," McLaughlin said. "A driver can get to racing to hard with the wrong person and end up with a damaged race car and a 30th place finish. In this championship race we can not afford a mistake like that."

McLaughlin will rely on his veteran Goulds Pumps pit crew, led by crew chief, Gary Cogswell and chassis specialist Steve "Big Guy" Helwig to prepare another strong race car for the South Boston race. So far this season, McLaughlin has had strong race cars at every race track and expects the same for the 300.

"The racing team deserves a big pat on the back for their efforts this racing season," McLaughlin said. "We have communicated real well and the cars have always been there for me during the race. These guys are doing a super job."

Keep an eye out for the #34 Goulds Pumps Chevrolet in the 300 Saturday night. "Magic Shoes" will be trying hard to claim his first victory at South Boston Speedway. With a little bit of racing luck and another strong race car 1998 may be the year for Mike in South Boston.