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NASCAR BGN: McLaughlin Charges to a 3rd Place Finish in South Boston

28 July 1998

SOUTH BOSTON, VA - Over the last 100 laps here Saturday night, Goulds Pumps Chevrolet driver, Mike McLaughlin was like a freight train charging through the night. With a powerful engine from Ron Hutter underneath his hood, McLaughlin powered his way from the 18th starting spot to a 3rd place finish in the 300.

The feat was even more impressive due to NASCAR's decision to schedule planned pit stops for the third time this season. The South Boston Speedway is a small .400 mile short track that does not have enough space for all cars to pit safely. Therefore all cars were given 5 laps to pit at laps 100 and 200. This rule eliminates the use of pit stop strategy to gain track position and makes it even tougher for a driver starting back in 18th or worse to move to the front. McLaughlin was up for the challenge though, gaining 5 spots every 100 laps. At the 100 lap break, McLaughlin was in the 13th position, at lap 200 he had moved into the 8th spot and over the last 100 laps he gained another 5 positions, passing some real powerful cars to land in 3rd. Along the way over the last 100 laps, McLaughlin passed his two teammates, Todd Bodine and David Green. Bodine and Green hooked onto McLaughlin's train and finished 4th and 5th in the event. Tim Fedewa held off Randy Lajoie to win the race, his second victory of the season.

"We put ourselves in a tough position by qualifying 18th, but the Goulds Pumps Team made some awesome adjustments to the car at each break," McLaughlin said. "I would have loved to have had about 10 more laps to catch Fedewa, our car was really gaining momentum at the end."

McLaughlin also expressed his excitement of having his two teammates right behind him in 4th and 5th.

"Todd and David are great race car drivers and huge assets to Team 34 Racing," McLaughlin said. "I am hoping we can build on this and finish 1,2,3 at a race real soon."

With the finish and the 12th place finish by Dale Earnhardt and 13th place finish by Matt Kenseth, McLaughlin was able to cut Earnhardt's points lead to 51 points. The 3rd place finish was also the 3rd time in the last 4 races at South Boston that McLaughlin has recorded a top-three finish.

The Busch Grand National Series will head to Indianapolis Raceway Park for the Kroger 200 this Friday Night at 8:00pm EDT. MRN and ESPN will provide live coverage of the event.