There was no touching Max McLaughlin at Watkins Glen International (WGI) on Friday evening, as he broke through for his first-career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) victory in dominant fashion. McLaughlin made a clean sweep of the day at “The Glen” after pacing practice, earning the pole, and leading all 34 laps on Friday evening en route to victory. The triumph for “Mad Max” adds to the McLaughlin family heritage in the Northeast, as his father Mike scored one of his six NASCAR Xfinity Series wins at WGI in 1997.
McLaughlin’s dominant day began by posting the quickest lap in practice by whopping 0.727 seconds. He followed that up by wheeling the No. 1 Mohawk Northeast Toyota Camry to his second pole position of the season. Once the green flag waved, McLaughlin immediately threw the keys on the counter and checked out. He extended his lead to seven seconds in the first five laps and led at the halfway caution on lap 23.
Crew chief Robert Huffman armed McLaughlin with four fresh tires for the race’s second half. McLaughlin briefly lost the top spot on the restart into Turn 1 but regained the race lead less than a lap later. Over the final nine circuits, McLaughlin continued to put on a clinic and drove away to over an 11-second lead before the final caution waved on lap 33. During the caution, lightning and rain forced a red flag and ultimately ended the event after 34 of 41 scheduled laps.
McLaughlin’s first career win comes in just his eighth NKNPSE start, tenth career asphalt start and his first appearance on a road course. The victory moved McLaughlin up to fourth in the championship standings, 27 points out of the lead.
Max McLaughlin Quote:
“It was awesome. We qualified on the pole, and not really sure if I had to save tires yet. I’d never run a road race before, so that was kind of new to me. But that thing was so good, I really just hit my marks. I ran the heck out of it and really never gave up. We gained on them in a couple locations on the track and I made sure I hit those right. I know Tanner Gray was pretty good after that stop. I had to step it up a little bit. I think we got up to a comfortable lead and the rain came. I had a great time, man. This car was flawless to drive. Hattori Racing Enterprises, Shige Hattori, they do so much for me. It’s a pleasure to drive this Mohawk Toyota Camry.”
Shige Hattori Quote:
"I am so proud of Max. He has done a really good job this year, and did a great job to win. It's hard to learn to drive a different type of racecar like he has this season, but he's been doing a great job. He's been close the last few races, so I'm so proud of the whole team to get a this win."