RPW Column: Martinsville Thursday, Georgetown Friday; Quite The Busy 24+ Hours For Max McLaughlin

Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – MARTINSVILLE, VA – Max McLaughlin loves to race, but is this a little extreme?

Thursday night, McLaughlin raced the Gary Putnam #77 NASCAR Modified on the historic Martinsville Speedway in the series’ 2022 finale.  He started 20th in the 200-lap event and looked to be the fastest car on the speedway as the final laps were running down.

Unfortunately, with ten laps remaining, troubles set it while under caution with Max sitting in the fourth position as his car ran out of fuel.

He would end up finishing 26th on the night.

“We had a really good car and put ourselves in position to win,” McLaughlin said.  “We just ran out of gas.”

Team car to McLaughlin, Cory LaJoie, went on to score the victory, which Max was happy about, but left him wondering “what if.”

“It was cool to see Cory win but we just passed him a couple laps before the caution,” he said.  “I feel like we had a car to win but it just wasn’t meant to be.  Now, it’s on to Delaware.”

You could see the dejection in McLaughlin after the race but he was grateful for the opportunity to run the event.

“It’s definitely a bummer but I can’t thank Gary Putnam, Curb Records and everybody for the opportunity,” he said.  “We’re going to drive to Delaware tonight and hopefully go get a win there.”

Say what?  You heard that correctly.  As the race ended, McLaughlin’s night was, for all intents and purposes, just beginning.

The second-generation driver then began the nearly seven-hour ride to Georgetown Speedway so he can compete in two nights of action with the Short Track Super Series in their Elite Series Mid-Atlantic Championship.

“This is going to be a lot of racing, a lot of traveling, and a lot of driving,” he said.  “I drove down by myself on Wednesday so I could sleep here and only have a two-hour drive today (Thursday) from my Dad’s shop.”

That’s when the fun begins.  How does the trip look for Max?

“We don’t know where we’re going really,” he said.  “Me and my buddy Junior may just stop somewhere on the way or just drive the whole way through.  We’ll see.  We’re going to put some miles on the car this weekend for sure.”

Everyone knows Max loves to race, but why would he make such a daunting trip over the span of 24 hours?  The reason?  He’s in the hunt, even if just mathematically, for the Short Track Super Series’ inaugural Elite Series championship.

However, more importantly, he wants the trophy.

“We’re going to try and get the best finish we can at Georgetown,” he said.  “We could technically still win the championship, but Matt (Sheppard) would have to fall out of the race on like lap one.  Usually, he doesn’t do that though.”

Now McLaughlin will change his focus from asphalt to dirt as he chases after yet another win behind the wheel of the HBR #8.

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