RPW Column: Max McLaughlin Breaks Through For First Orange County Modified Win

Column By: MIKE TRAVERSE / RPW – MIDDLETOWN, NY – He’s run well at OCFS all season, being at or near the top of the United Rentals DIRTcar Big Block Modified point standings. But he was still waiting on grabbing that first win.

Well, the wait is now over. Max McLaughlin is an OCFS Modified feature winner, outracing Matt Sheppard and Mike Gular.

Tanner VanDoren and Gular led the field to the drop of the green flag with Gular getting the lead. Third starting McLaughlin raced side by side with Dillon Steuer for a few laps until Max took the position on lap 5. While Gular was out front, Sheppard was moving up from his 12th starting spot, moving up to 7th when the caution flew on lap 8.

The restart saw Steuer move to 2nd and McLaughlin to 3rd. The caution was out quickly on lap 10. McLaughlin moved into 2nd on the restart. After a couple of side-by-side laps with Gular, McLaughlin took the lead on lap 14. Sheppard was still working his way forward, taking 4th from Anthony Perrego on lap 17. Sheppard was running well in the high groove and made the pass of Gular for 2nd on lap 19.

With McLaughlin running the bottom and Sheppard up top, the 9S was slowly gaining on Max. With the laps winding down, Sheppard got close in lapped traffic. But McLaughlin was too good on this night and Max took the win by .711 seconds over Sheppard. Gular finished 3rd with Perrego 4th and Steuer 5th. Tyler Boniface was 6th, VanDoren 7th, Danny Creeden 8th, Billy VanInwegen 9yj and Brian Calabrese 10th.

This race determined the OCFS Elite 8 that will carry on towards the $30,000 OCFS point title. The drivers advancing are McLaughlin, Sheppard, Perrego,  Gular, Boniface, Danny Creeden, Steuer and Billy VanInwegen, VanDoren, Jimmy Horton, Matt Janiak and Chris Shultz were eliminated.

In the H.O. Penn 358 Small Block Modified feature, Steuer made a late race pass for the lead and raced on to an impressive win over Perrego and Pat Reiser.

Reiser, from the pole, led the first 20 laps of this one with Jimmy Spellmon close behind. While Reiser and Spellmon were pacing the race, Steuer from 11th and Perrego from 16th were moving up. As lapped traffic started to become a factor,  Steuer made the pass of Reiser on lap 20. With 2 to go, Perrego moved into 2nd past Reiser, but Steuer was long gone. At the finish, it was Steuer, 3.1 seconds ahead of Perrego. Reiser finished 3rd with Spellmon 4th and Creeden 5th. Daniel Morgiewicz Jr. was 6th, Chris Stevens 7th, Charles Loiodice 8th, Bobby Flood 9th and Craig Mitchell 10th.

Drew Boniface survived a great race with Jared LaBagh to win his 2nd Arkel Motors Sportsman feature of the year.

The 11th starting Boniface took the lead on lap 9 and for a while, put some distance on him and LaBagh. A late race restart got LaBagh back into contention, but Boniface was extremely fast and was able to grab the win by a scant .192 seconds over LaBagh. Cody Higbie gained some points back this week with a 3rd place finish while point leader Mike Sabia finished 4th. The remainder of the top 10 was Travis Green 5th, Tyler Peet 6th, Dominic Roselli 7th, Tyler Banks 8th, Anthony Falanga 9th and Grant Hilfiger 10th.

Racing returns to OCFS on Thursday, with the running of the 103rd Anniversary Race. Pro Stocks will also be racing.

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