PORT ROYAL, Pa. – Max McLaughlin got a little bit of redemption at Port Royal Speedway on Friday night by winning his qualifying heat for Saturday’s Speed Showcase 200.
McLaughlin, who started sixth in his 20-lap heat, wasted no time getting to the front. There was a quick caution in the Short Track Super Series-sanctioned event, which slated the driver of the Sweeteners Plus No. 32c third in the lineup.
Two laps later, he motored around Ryan Godown on the bottom to pick up the lead and never looked back. In doing so, McLaughlin locked himself into the top-10 redraw.
“We are really good,” McLaughlin said. “We just have to figure out how to make it turn a little better and I think we’ll be right where we need to be.”
While running second to Matt Sheppard Thursday night, McLaughlin jumped the cushion in turn three and put the No. 32c in the wall, which led to a flat right-rear tire and relegated him to a disappointing 17th-place finish.
“Last night I screwed these guys,” McLaughlin said of his mistake. “I over drove it a little bit and put it in the wall trying to chase Matt down for the win.”
McLaughlin, who has raced for Hattori Racing Enterprises in the ARCA Menards Series East this season, has multiple races under his belt in which the distance is similar to what Saturday’s feature will be.
While that is different compared to most in the dirt world, the long-distance experience might prove to be an advantage for the young gun.
“I think it helps,” he said. “The NASCAR cars are a lot hotter and wear more on your body. When I come back, it’s a lot easier on my body than what it used to be, so it helps.”
McLaughlin might have made himself one of the odds-on favorites for the $53,000 payday Saturday night in the Sweeteners Plus car, which was made famous in Northeast dirt circles by another well-known racer – dirt modified and late model star Tim McCreadie.
But McLaughlin isn’t focused on what anyone else thinks at this point. His eyes are staying right out the windshield.
“We just want to win; it’s a lot of money on the line,” he noted with a smile.