Mad Max McLaughlin Newest Canandaigua Modified Legend

By TOM SKIBINSKI

CANANDAIGUA, NY – The torch was lit when Max McLaughlin made his regular-season debut at Land of Legends Raceway back in May. It came to pass two months later as the 2nd-generation transplant from Mooresville, N.C. matched his father Mike ‘Magic Shoes’ McLaughlin, dominating the 35-lap Pepsi Big-Block Modified main to register his first career victory at the hallowed Ontario County Fairgrounds half-miler.

“This place is so historic, I’ve wanted to win here more than any other place in the world because my dad got his first win here,” beamed the choked up winner after becoming the 101st Big-Block driver to score a feature win at Canandaigua. His father is forever etched in the LOLR recordbook, taking nine checkered flags in his patented CraZ8 car from 1979-81. “Its an emotional night, really means a lot.”

Open-wheel wins by Alysha Bay (Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint) and Tyler Vinson (New Legends Sportsman), along with a full-fender bender first from Marc Minutolo (Big Dog Country Street Stock) in the ‘Saturday Spectacular” presented by Pampered Parents and Red Osier Landmark Restaurant, continued to close the generation gap as all four fathers were stationed pitside during the memorable night.

“I think my dad competed in a couple demolition derbies a long time ago, but I guess I’m first in the family to actually race cars,” figured Dave Marcuccilli, following his division-best fourth triumph in the 25-lap Donath Motor Worx Sportsman finale. “My son is a pretty good video-gamer though, and might have played some racing games, but at 12 years-old he just comes out to watch a few races without much interest in getting behind the wheel … yet.”

McLaughlin has had a comfortable grip on the steering wheel for most of his life, piling up wins and point titles since entering the karting ranks at age 11. It didn’t hurt that he he grew up in a hotbed of NASCAR racing in North Carolina.

A Waterloo, N.Y. native, his father Mike, the 1988 NASCAR Modified National Champion in the #12 Sherwood Racing-Sherri Cup Chevrolet, brought him back up north to CNY in 2016 to race full-time chasing the Super DIRTcar Series while gaining valuable seat time on the local circuit. Canandaigua became his new Saturday night hangout when first-year promoter Paul Cole took control to start 2018.

“I’ve been telling people the biggest thing that has helped me the most this year is running Canandaigua,” noted McLaughlin, now 18, who at age 15 became the youngest driver ever to set fast time when he made his Heinke-Baldwin Racing (HBR) qualifying debut at the World Finals in Charlotte in Nov. 2015. In 2016 he signed on full-time with HBR —with teammates Jimmy Phelps, Peter Britten and Dave Blaney— and by season’s end was honored as DIRTcar Northeast’s Big-Block Modified Rookie of the Year.

“Its been a real slick race track, have to carry a lot of momentum and these (Big-Blocks) cars are so much about carrying momentum. The best in all of Modified racing has grown up here … Matt Sheppard has created a lot of his success here and my former teammate Peter (Britten) first broke out as a star while racing here. Its a place where you learn a lot, ‘Land of Legends’ fits it,” McLaughlin added.

Ironically, seasoned HBR chauffeur Phelps missed his first show of the season at LOLR on Saturday even as he trailed leader Sheppard by only four points in the standings. Also serving as Weedsport Speedway general manager for track owner Al Heinke since 2013, Phelps was forced to remain at The Port promoting a special American Flat Track Bike Series event on tap the same night.

‘Mad Max’ filed into eighth on the 22-car starting grid, improving two positions when the lone yellow flag flew on lap four for the #16K Bicknell car of Kaitlin Pashina parked on the frontstretch infield. McLaughlin charged into third on the ensuing restart then moved ahead of small-block powered leader Brian Sage on lap 11.

The final 32 laps clicked off caution-free with Max in his #6H Teo Pro Car cruising home for a convincing 13-second victory worth $2,000. Sage finished a solid second chased by Lance Dusett, veteran Alan Johnson, Erick Rudolph and Billy Dunn, while Sheppard salvaged a surpising 7th-place after starting 17th in a borrowed ride. Saturday’s run was arguably his best of the season at LOLR considering it came aboard Frenchman Jean-Francois Corriveau’s #96 Bicknell entry as ‘Super Matt’s’ own no. 9S BRP ride suffered a broken oil pump (dry sump) belt during warm-ups and was scratched for the night.

From not even racing, to winning. From walking out of the woods on Thursday to stepping into victory lane on Saturday. That was just as big a story-line in the aftermath of Bay’s story-book 20-lap 305 sprint car triumph at the Land of Legends.

Settling for runner-up laurels a straightaway behind the ‘hotter than pink’ winged machine, Darryl Ruggles may have summed up his daughter’s resiliency best. “Its hard to keep her away from racing.”

“She walked into the garage this morning and said ‘I’m not racing’ so I said ‘alright.’ 10 minutes later she’s sitting in the car sizing up her hand on the steering wheel. She asks ‘Is there a small steering wheel in the garage somewhere?’ and I say ‘ya, there’s one in my car’ and now she asks ‘can you get it for me?’ Then she starts trying to fit her hand around it and I said ‘That’s it, we’re done, she’s racing,’”

Come Saturday night’s A-Main, Bay sized up early leaders, defending points champion Jason Whipple (laps 1-3) and pole-sitter Dan Craun (4-5), then dug down deep and ducked under Craun rounding turns three and four to forge the final lead change. The caution-free affair lasted only seven minutes, long enough to appease her growing fan club and short enough to provide needed rest for her ailing wrist.

Finishing behind Bay and Ruggles were Tyler Cartier, Whipple and early season winner Brandyn Griffin.

“The car was actually set up perfect, could drive it with one hand,” smiled Bay, 24, raising her right arm to reveal an appropriately colored —and custom-molded to fit around the steering wheel— pink cast covering a broken wrist. In Thursday’s ESS 360 sprint car mishap, the female flash from nearby Gorham experienced a broken left-front spindle on her father’s ‘safety yellow’ re-numbered 48A Willmes Enterprises/Eagle mount, first losing the L-F wheel on the front chute then brakes and steering in the process before sending it over the turns 1-2 embankment and into the trees. She divulged afterwards that she did in fact use only one finger on her right hand to stablize the steering on Saturday.

“(Thursday) is all old news, we move on from here,” down-played Bay, now with seven career 305 wins, two in 2018, at LOLR yet still trails dad Darryl on the mid-season points chart. “Started third tonight, that’s pretty high up, and everything seemed just to work in my favor after that. Have to thank Danny Willmes for providing the car and Mike Mastin for the motor, and everybody that has given so much of their time to make this team successful.”

One of the most successful racers so far this season has been three-time reigning Sportsman points king Marcuccilli. The Montezuma motorman scored a rare trifecta in Saturday’s Spectacular, copping his qualifying heat and nosing out Loren Lincoln in the special Pampered Parents dash-for-cash before adding career feature win no. 25 at the fairgrounds.

“What a race car we had tonight,” declared Marcuccilli, 41, after scoring his second consecutive win, this one by nearly a straightaway over points runner-up Matt Guererri. “The (officials) kinda challenged me tonight, putting me back four spots on that one restart. Luckily, we had a good enough car to work our way back up through. The car was really good in the black but I was still nervous after that dash, didn’t think we were all that good. We ended up not changing a thing, came back out and was still good.”

Contact in turn two between Anthony Kimble and Jeff Lawrence resulted in Lawrence looping his mount and the first of two caution periods slowing the action on lap seven. Lincoln paced the 20-car field from the opening lap before Marcuccilli put his #M1 Page Trucking-All Star Contractors/Bicknell car into high gear.

Scored 11th on the lap seven restart, Marcuccilli bolted into the top-five by lap 10 then disposed of third-place runner Kane Bristol two circuits later. Marcuccilli moved past Guererri for second on lap 13 and just as he swept around leader Lincoln exiting turn two the next time around, the second yellow flag waved for the slowing car of Steve Gray.

Marcuccilli mirrored his move on the lap 14 restart to regain the top spot, using the high line to his advantage and showing no signs of coasting to the checkers. Guererri followed Marcuccilli through the same hole to overtake Lincoln on lap 15 but was unable to threaten for the lead as the laps dwindled. At the line it was Marcuccilli ahead of Matt Guererri with brother Nick Guererri stealing third from Ricky Newton on the final lap. Paul Guererri completed the final front-five.

“Have to thank Pampered Parents for sponsoring that dash, was a fun event and its pretty cool to pick up some extra cash,” Marcuccilli added. “We’ve been rolling pretty good lately, a lot of messing around and experimenting. We hit on something about a month ago and we’re gonna just keep on riding it.”

Minutolo seemed to find a litle something extra in the 15-lap Big Dog Street Stock finale, yet still needed a stellar effort through the final turn of the final lap to end Josh Pangrazio’s two-race win streak.

“I saw the lap cars and knew they were going to be down there (inside lane). And I saw Scott (chief flagger) trying to tell them to hold their line and for the most part they did,” stated Minutolo, 26, attempting to describe all that transpired during the final quarter-mile, with his no. 25B Tradition Automotive Group-Big Mike’s Auto/Chevrolet Camaro crossing the finish line almost sideways to stave off Pangrazio’s late-race bid.

“Bundy (Ron Metcalf) gave me a little door (contact) there in turns three and four, that made it a little more exciting. Just tried to keep my composure. Ran the top during the beginning of the race so I figured, hey, just gotta do what I did earlier because I obviously can’t run through (lapped cars). And then I see Josh out there and I’m like ‘Oh crap, here we go again.’ I crowded him a little bit but that’s part of the game. He held his thumb up out the window so thumbs-up from him is thumbs-up for me, so we’re good.”

“Thanks to all you guys out there (pointing to the grandstand), I come here to put on a show. Don’t really care what happens with the rest,” added Minutolo, the second-generation driver from Newark who’s father Mike Minutolo Sr. logged 33 stock car wins at Canandaigua from 1998-2013. Marc now owns 55 career checkered flags after his thrilling third victory of the ’18 campaign.

All-time Canandaigua full-fender feature winner Mike Welch out-dragged front row partner Jason Doty to take the early lead and retained the point until fourth-starting Minutolo rode the outside line around him on lap four. Pangrazio began sixth and grabbed second from Welch on lap five before tracking down ‘Mr. Smooth’ just in time for the last lap shootout.

Points leader Adam DePuy watched the drama unfold from his third-place perch while Jason Quigley and Parker Smith filled out the top-five at the stripe.

Following in the tire tracks of his father Rich, as well as his grandfather Ralph, Tyler Vinson increased his New Legends Sportsman division points lead after recording his first-ever win in Canandaigua’s entry-level open-wheel class. Vinson slid under Sam Hoxie on lap two and stayed out front the remaining distance to secure victory.

“Feels great even though this class is mostly for learning, its still awesome to be here,” beamed Vinson, 22, after finding the winner’s circle with the no. 93 Jocoy’s Collision/Bicknell ride; the same car his father Rich ran in the opening three Sportsman races before a scheduled shoulder operation in late July curtailed any further effort. “Its a great class, everybody should get into it before they jump into the big show.”

“Have to thank my dad, he’s the biggest supporter. I’ve learned so much from him over the years … keep calm under pressure, don’t let other drivers get in your head and just run your own race. Wouldn’t be here without him,” said Vinson, the only New Legends driver to make every show despite towing in from Sanborn.

Elmira’s Chris Daugherty, father of Big-Block wheelman Jeff, finished a fine second in his track debut while Nick Cooper, Dwight Nichols and Hoxie filled out the field in the non-stop 10-lapper.

LEGEND LEDGER:

Speedway action continues July 14 at Land of Legends Raceway with Family Autograph Night highlighting the ‘Saturday Spectacular’ presented by Cargill Products and Main Energy and packed with Pepsi Big-Block Modfied, Donath Motor Worx Sportsman, Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint, Big Dog Country Street Stock and New Legends Sportsman racing. This highly-anticipated fun-filled night provides a unique one-on-one setting for race teams and fans as cars from all classes park on the homestretch accompanied by the stars that drive them, offering autographs and photo shoots and often times hero cards and free candy to those who venture trackside.

Congratulations are once again extended to the Dutch Hoag and Glenn Donnelly families after their memorable inductions into the Land of Legends Raceway Wall of Fame during the past two months. The next WoF ceremony will be held on Sat., July 21 with the third honoree recognized as one of the most popular drivers ever to compete on the fairgrounds, along the way piling up numerous feature wins and point championships at Canandaigua as well as around the entire Northeastern DIRT circuit.

Continue to follow the point standings and breaking news online by visiting www.LandOfLegendsRaceway.com. Advance sale tickets are also available for purchase online throughout the upcoming months. Log into the website (LandOfLegendsRaceway.com), hit the red “Buy Tickets” button on the homepage, then make a selection from the list of dates & events highlighted.

Land of Legends Raceway is located at the Ontario County Fairgrounds, east of the city on Town Line Road (County Road 10), with easy access off either Exit 43 (Manchester, Route 21 South) or Exit 44 (Farmington, Route 332 South) of the New York State Thruway, just ½-hour southeast of Rochester.

Land of Legends Raceway Event Summary – July 7, 2018

Pampered Parents & Red Osier Landmark Restaurant present Saturday Spectacular

Pepsi Big-Block Modified

*Feature (35 laps): 1. 6h-Max McLaughlin($2,000), 2. 12-Brian Sage, 3. 77-Lance Dusett, 4. 14j-Alan Johnson, 5. 25-Erick Rudolph, 6. 3rs-Billy Dunn, 7. 96-Matt Sheppard, 8. 22g-Gil Tegg Jr., 9. 19w-Justin Wright, 10. 23-Kyle Coffey, 11. 11j-James Sweeting, 12. 3-Justin Haers, 13. 07-Tim Kerr, 14. 88-Dave Allen, 15. 22-Jeff Daugherty, 16. 28p-Eldon Payne,Jr., 17. 5-Tom Keyes, 18. 34-Andrew Ferguson, 19. 31m-Jimmy Maier, 20. 7x-Steve Paine, 21. 21p-Derrick Podsiadlo, 22. 16k-Kaitlin Pashina, 174-Brian Boudreau(DNS), 96-Jean-Francois Corriveau(DNS).

Heats (8 laps)

#1: Dusett, Sage, Sheppard, McLaughlin, Haers, Coffey, Kerr, Boudreau.

#2: Rudolph, Allen, Wright, Tegg, Daugherty, Payne, Pashina, Corriveau(DNS).

#3: Dunn, Sweeting, Johnson, Podsiadlo, Paine, Maier, Keyes, Ferguson.

Donath Motor Worx Sportsman Modified

*Feature (25 laps): 1. m1-Dave Marcuccilli, 2. 12g-Matt Guererri, 3. 25g-Nick Guererri, 4. 11n-Ricky Newton, 5. 7-Paul Guererri, 6. 31-Kane Bristol, 7. 2-Loren Lincoln, 8. 9-Tim Baker, 9. 2k-Anthony Kimble, 10. 8-Joe Cook, 11. 29g-Steve Gray, 12. c21-Jeff Davoli, 13. 21x-Eric Williams, 14. 1-Billy Paine, 15. 1L-Jeff Lawrence, 16. 13t-Trevor Years, 17. 50-Tim Downs, 18. 77-Benny Karlsen, 19. 1f-A.J. Lloyd, 20. 2kx-Kyle Kiehn.

Heats (8 laps)

#1: Lincoln, Lloyd, N.Guererri, Cook, Kimble, Davoli, Downs.

#2: Marcuccilli, Williams, Newton, Gray, Lawrence, Kiehn, Karlsen.

#3: Baker, P.Guererri, M.Guererri, Bristol, Years, Paine.

Pampered Parents Dash-For-Cash (4 laps): 1. Marcuccilli($200), 2. Lincoln($100), 3. Baker($100), 4. Karlsen($50).

Mike Emhof Motorsports 305 Sprint

*Feature (20 laps): 1. 48a-Alysha Bay, 2. 48jr.-Darryl Ruggles, 3. 23-Tyler Cartier, 4. 38-Jason Whipple , 5. 75-Brandyn Griffin, 6. 18c-Dan Craun, 7. X-Dan Bennett, 8. 53-Tom Fletcher, 9. 4-Tim Smith, 10. 8g-Bobby Gardner,11. 99-Andy Jacobus, 12. 99j-Aaron Jacobus.

Heats (8 laps)

#1: Bay, Griffin, Bennett, Whipple, Ar. Jacobus, An.Jacobus.

#2: Ruggles, Cartier, Craun, Fletcher, Smith, Gardner.

Big Dog Country Street Stock

*Feature (15 laps): 1. 25b-Marc Minutolo, 2. 70-Josh Pangrazio, 3. 99-Adam DePuy, 4. 34q-Jason Quigley, 5. 55p-Parker Smith, 6. 4j-Jason Doty, 7. 8-Mike Welch, 8. 74-Ronald “Bundy” Metcalf, 9. 58d-Nick Dandino.

Heats (6 laps)

#1: Pangrazio, Minutolo, DePuy, Welch, Doty, Quigley, Smith, Dandino, Metcalf.

New Legends Sportsman

*Feature (10 laps): 1. 93-Tyler Vinson, 2. 21x-Chris Daugherty, 3. 35-Nick Cooper, 4. 14n-Dwight Nichols, 5. 00-Sam Hoxie, 2kx-Josh Amodio(DNS).

NEXT EVENT: Saturday Spectacular, July 14 @ 7pm; Cargill Products and Main Energy present Big-Block Modified/Sportsman/305 Sprint/Street Stock/New Legends Sportsman on Family Autograph Night.

Track Instant Info

Website: www.LandOfLegendsRaceway.com

E-Mail: info@LandOfLegendsRaceway.com

Twitter: @LandofLegendsNY

Facebook: @LandofLegendsNY

Instagram: @LandofLegendsNY

Land of Legends Raceway is proud to salute several sponsors and corporate partners that continue to help bring its fans the best Saturday night racing show in the Northeast. Listed alphabetically are division sponsors Big Dog Country 103.5FM Radio, Donath Motor Worx, Mike Emhof Motorsports, Pepsi/Geneva Club Beverage; event sponsors Admar Construction Equipment & Supply Company, A-Verdi Storage Containers, Daldry Canvas, Geneva Club Beverage/Mountain Dew, Honeoye Auto Parts/Auto Value, L&L Transmission & Towing, Pampered Parents, Phelps Cement Products, Pilat Graphic Design, Proctor Enterprises, Product 9, Red Osier Restaurant, Tradition Automotive Group; promotional partners Champion Power Equipment, D.C. Rauscher Inc., Dig Safely New York 811, Hoosier Racing Tire, Ontario County Fairboard, Sherwin-Williams Paint Stores, Star Headlight & Lantern Co., VP Racing Fuels.