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NASCAR BGN: Richmond Plays No Favorites with McLaughlin

15 September 1998

RICHMOND-In what seems like a ritual in racing, The Richmond International Raceway stepped up and threw a roadblock in front of Mike McLaughlin. McLaughlin, driver of the Goulds Pumps Chevrolet, seems to have a monkey on his back when it comes to the famed short-track located in Richmond, Virginia. Friday night was no exception, as McLaughlin fell victim to a multi-car accident on lap 2 of the Autolite Platinum 250. The damage sent McLaughlin behind the wall, where his team performed repair work and returned him to the track where he drove to a 28th place finish.

The weekend started out on a tough note as McLaughlin struggled to a 34th place starting spot in qualifying. McLaughlin's biggest worry about starting in the back came true, as an accident occurred about 20 spots in front of him, blocking the racetrack, sending him head on into 3 different cars. The accident busted the radiator on the #34 Goulds Pumps machine.

"I knew the first part of the race could be scary for us with so many cars racing hard right together," McLaughlin said. "I was just hoping to make it to the first pit stop, because I knew our car was faster than what we qualified, unfortunately, we never had a chance."

Dale Earnhardt Jr., dominated the race and claimed the checkered flag over Jeff Burton and Jimmy Spencer. The race was filled with accidents throughout the night.

The two Richmond Busch Grand National races this year proved to be very damaging to the Goulds Pumps Racing team. A 34th place finish earlier in June combined with Friday nights 28th place finish earned McLaughlin 140 points in the Busch Grand National points race. Points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr., earned 365 points in the two races. McLaughlin now stands 276 points behind Earnhardt in third place.

The Busch Grand National Series now heads to a place that brings back great memories for McLaughlin, Dover Downs International Speedway. McLaughlin earned his first Busch win at the 1 mile track in 1995.

"We are really focused for Dover, I believe it could be a lot of fun," McLaughlin said. "We have a great race car and I want to win the pole and the race."

The MBNA 200 takes the green flag at 1:10pm EDT. The Nashville Network and Motor Racing Network