Column By: MICHELINA FRISS / DIRTCAR – CONCORD, NC – There’s power in knowing your objective. For Max McLaughlin, when it comes to the 2023 World of Outlaws World Finals, that objective is easy.
“We’re going for a win,” McLaughlin said. “We’ve been so close there so many times. Now that we have our package back together, we feel like we’re where we need to be to be competitive and beat those best guys. There’s no reason that we can’t go win there.”
Even with going through “the most stressful” season of his career, the Mooresville, NC driver hasn’t let it squelch his hunger for success. McLaughlin enters the season finale event with two top-five finishes and five top-10s. His most recent top-five finish was his second-place finish at the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 at Oswego Speedway on Oct. 9.
After a tremendous flip in his Small Block Modified during the DIRTcar 358 Modified Salute to the Troops 150, McLaughlin strapped into his Big Block Modified later that afternoon and rebounded with his career-best Super DIRT Week run during the ‘200’.
“We were good,” McLaughlin said. “We were just a little too tight on entry. That killed us all day. I felt like we had a good shot at the end there. I had a chance to make my move. I just got tight every time. Ultimately, it killed me. It is what it is, we’re just going to build on it and do better next year.”
The runner-up finish on the biggest stage of the season returned a sense of normalcy to the Heinke-Baldwin Racing driver and gave him a confidence boost going into the World of Outlaws World Finals, Nov. 1-4.
While the 23-year-old has yet to capture a win at the Concord, NC track, his previous finishes have given him something to build on. McLaughlin posted two-top five finishes at last year’s event, finishing fifth on night two and second to winner Williamson on the closing night.
“We were really good (at World Finals) last year,” McLaughlin said. “We just came up short. I feel like we are going to be really tough there this year. I think we have the complete package. I think our program is really good. Bob (Bruno) built a great motor and I think we have a good setup there to build off of from last year. I think we are going to be tough.”
The Super DIRTcar Series Big Blocks will take to the track for four nights of racing, starting Wednesday, Nov. 1, for the Low-E Insulating Qualifying night. Three consecutive nights of Features will follow, with $10,000 payouts on Thursday and Friday, followed by a $15,000 payout on Saturday night.
As McLaughlin rolls out on the track for the final three races of the season, he’ll lay it all on the line to not only take home a considerable payday, but to have his season’s storyline end on a positive note, showing the value in persevering through adversity. He’s also still within striking distance of a top-five finish in points – 75 points behind his teammate Jimmy Phelps.
“It would be awesome (to get a win),” McLaughlin said. “It would definitely make me feel better. It’s been probably the most stressful racing year of my life… It was a really tough mental year for me. To end the season with a win, it would be awesome for me and help me out a lot, for sure.”