NASCAR-BGN: McLaughlin Heads to Gateway
15 October 1998After battling incredible heat in last year's inaugural Gateway race, Goulds Pumps Chevrolet driver, Mike McLaughlin is looking forward to a nice, casual, fall afternoon drive around the Gateway International Raceway. McLaughlin, a Waterloo, NY native, and the 41 other drivers entered in last year's Gateway 300 were met with 100-degree temperatures when the Busch Grand National Series made its first ever visit to the 1.25 mile oval. McLaughlin, relied on his dedication to physical fitness to overcome the heat and race to a 5th place finish.
"The racing conditions were tough, but that's the kind of day where all my training pays off," McLaughlin said. "I was able to stay fresh when others were making mistakes and suffering from the heat, we survived and had a solid top-five finish."
With this year's race scheduled for October 17th, McLaughlin is counting on a beautiful fall afternoon and has set his sights on Victory Lane and his third win of the season. With McLaughlin locked into a points race battle all season, Gateway will be an important race in deciding the final standings. A victory would go a long way in helping McLaughlin gain points on Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth. McLaughlin knows his Team 34 Race Team will be ready for battle. Team owners Frank Cicci, Jeff and Scott Welliver have assembled a top-notch team for McLaughlin.
"We have one goal in mind for this year's Gateway race, and that is to win the race," McLaughlin said. "This race team has given me great race cars every race this season and I know the Goulds Pumps Chevrolet we have for Gateway will be ready for battle."
McLaughlin has visited Victory Lane 5 times in his Busch Grand National career. Beginning with his first Busch Series win in 1995 at Dover, McLaughlin has added wins at Loudon (1996), Watkins Glen (1996), Nashville (1998) and Charlotte (1998). McLaughlin hopes to make it 6 wins by claiming the checkered flag at Gateway International Raceway. If McLaughlin can't win the race he will be pulling for one of his teammates to bring the victory back to Team 34 Racing. Todd Bodine and David Green joined Team 34 Racing earlier this year. The three make up the most formidable Busch Grand National Team in history. Green, the 1994 Busch Grand National champion, will be making his first Gateway start after spending the 1997 and part of 1998 season in The Winston Cup Series. Bodine will be making his second Gateway start. Between the three of them, McLaughlin feels good about Team 34's chances at victory.
"Of course, I hope to be the one to win the race, but if I am not able to, I have two great teammates that will be tough to beat at Gateway," McLaughlin said. "Todd and David are great race car drivers, having those guys as teammates gives me a few different ideas to try out on the track."
McLaughlin and his Team 34 teammates will head west from Charlotte, NC looking for a victory in the Gateway 300. With the help of his veteran race team and the advice of his two teammates, Goulds Pumps driver Mike McLaughlin will be one of the favorites to be celebrating in Victory Lane Saturday afternoon. Keep and eye on the white and blue #34 Goulds Pumps Chevrolet, it might just be sitting in Victory Lane at day's end.