Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – PORT ROYAL, PA – For Max McLaughlin, a trip to victory lane in a crown jewel event is still extremely high on his bucket list and would love for it to come after 75 laps around Port Royal Speedway Saturday night.
If that happened, he’d win the Speed Showcase for the Short Track Super Series and take home a big $50,000 payday in the process.
“It would be pretty cool,” McLaughlin said. “It seems we’ve been close at DIRT Week a couple times. I thought we had a shot to win it last week and came up two spots short. It just seems like at these big races, Mat Williamson and Matt Sheppard just come alive at the end.”
Last Sunday night at the Oswego Speedway, McLaughlin led laps and his HBR team was in the hunt for the victory all race long but strategy just didn’t play in their favor.
Could that turn around this weekend at Port Royal?
“We’ve got the speed but just have to put the strategy together,” he said. “I think we’ve got a good shot this weekend for sure.”
How did things go for Max in Friday afternoon’s practice session at the Speed Palace?
“We were pretty good on the speed chart,” he said. “I’m just super, super tight and I think if we can free up a little bit on entry, I think we’re going to be really good. We went out in the last session and were top five on the speed chart and were pushing and it was very uncomfortable. To still have speed in the car, with it driving like that, gives us confidence going into the weekend.”
Does Max like racing at Port Royal?
“This place is awesome,” he said. “It’s one of the coolest race tracks that there is. Any time we get to come here, and we don’t race in the middle of the day, it puts on a pretty dang good show.”
“What does McLaughlin think about changing this fall Short Track Super Series race from 200 to 75 laps?
“I’m looking forward to it now that’s down to 75 laps,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of hard, intense racing. These guys are the best in the business so hopefully we put on a good race.”
Friday night will be qualifying races for the big feature on Saturday. Does McLaughlin have a gameplan heading into the heat race?
“Win it, just like any other race,” he said. “I think we’ve got a good car so we need to just free it up and make sure we’re good in traffic. Even in a 20-lapper, I think we’re going to get into lap traffic fairly quick and this place is just so fast. You’ve got to be good on the bottom, be good on the top and be able to go anywhere so hopefully it slicks off a bit because it’s fast right now.”