RPW Column: HBR Teammates Max McLaughlin & Jimmy Phelps Have Great Shots To Win Speed Showcase Saturday
Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – PORT ROYAL, PA – Every team wants to be good from the moment they unload off the trailer.
For HBR teammates Max McLaughlin and Jimmy Phelps, that’s exactly what happened Friday night at Port Royal Speedway.
Each had good machines from the moment they hit the track and it showed with both drivers finding their way to victory lane in their respective 20-lap qualifier for Saturday night’s Short Track Super Series $50,000-to-win Speed Showcase.
McLaughlin was a man on a mission in his heat race, grabbing the lead before the lap counter turn to two and was never seriously challenged the rest of the way to pick up the $750 victory.
“We’ve got a really good car right now,” McLaughlin said. “We’ll just have to see if it last for 75 laps come Saturday night but we definitely need to tighten it up a bit.”
How were track conditions during Max’s 20-lapper?
“There’s still quite a bit of brown out there right now,” he said. “If it’s going to hold that moisture tomorrow too, it’d be good.”
Now that he’s in the redraw, how important is a good starting position to McLaughlin for Saturday night’s main event?
“It’s definitely a lot more important now with 75 laps than it would be with 200,” he said. “Especially when you have a lot of good guys in the redraw too, starting up front means a lot.”
Who does McLaughlin see as some of his main competition?
“(Anthony) Perrego looked real good,” he said. “Tyler Dippel looked real good and Mike Mahaney jus put on a clinic out there. There’s going to be some tough competition. Right now, we’re a little on the free side but we’ll see what we’ve got come tomorrow.”
As for Jimmy Phelps, this weekend marks his maiden voyage to the Speed Palace and so far so good. He was able to capture the victory in the final 20-lap qualifier and is real happy with his Bicknell heading into Saturday.
“We came down here and really weren’t sure what to expect,” Phelps said. “We’ve never been here and this place is amazing. I’ve really got to thank my guys. I think we worked more on getting me comfortable than anything and they’ve put a really fast car under me.”
How does Phelps think the track will change as it comes time for the 75-lap main event? Will a good starting position be the ticket to victory lane?
“It looks like once this thing widens out, you’ll have to have a good car,” he said. “I don’t think a good draw’s going to be enough. We’ve got to have a car that can run all over once it shines up a little bit.”
Does the HBR team have a game plan to get the 98H to the front?
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing and read the track right,” he said. “We’ve got some tire choices so we’ve got to make some more decisions there but I’m looking forward to Saturday. I think it’s going to be a hell of a race.”
Qualifying Race No. 2 Finish (20 laps): MAX McLAUGHLIN, Brandon Grosso, Mat Williamson, Mike Gular, Louden Reimert, Sam Martz Jr., Keith Flach, Peter Britten, Joseph Watson, Ron Myers, Sean Weiss, Chris Curtis
Qualifying Race No. 5 Finish (20 laps): JIMMY PHELPS, Larry Wight, Alex Yankowski, Ronnie Johnson, Demetrios Drellos, Rocky Warner, Cale Ross, John Willman, Bob McGannon, Joe Judge, Cole Youse, Ryan Watt