McLaughlin Gets Weedsport Checkers to Earn First Super DIRTcar Series Win – DTD Exclusive

By STEVEN PETTY

WEEDSPORT, NY – One week ago, Max McLaughlin did not even have a ride for OktoberFAST. The Mooresville, N.C., driver got the opportunity to drive for two-time Syracuse winner Vic Coffey and on Sunday night.

The two were celebrating in victory lane after “Mad Max” earned the $10,000 payday after winning the 75-lap finale for the big-block Modified Super DIRTcar Series at the Weedsport Speedway.

“It is very surreal right now being in victory lane at Weedsport,” commented McLaughlin in victory lane. “I was crying with five laps to go; it was just really emotional. Al Heinke gave me the opportunity to keep racing. To pass my idol in dirt racing Matt Sheppard here for the win is pretty cool.”

Matt Sheppard led nearly half the race. After drawing the pole position for the second straight night, Sheppard took off into the early race lead as he shared the front row with reigning Super DIRTcar Series Champion Mat Williamson.




McLaughlin started seventh on the grid and by lap five, was battling Brett Hearn for fifth place. McLaughlin completed the pass just a few laps later, just as Sheppard and Williamson hit lap traffic. Prior to Tyler Trump’s spin in turn three, Williamson reeled in Sheppard for the first time since the start of the race to battle for the lead.

The lap 21 restart saw Sheppard and Williamson setting the pace with Pat Ward, McLaughlin, and Larry Wight racing inside the top five. A few drivers that were making headway towards the front of the field were Erick Rudolph, Stewart Friesen, Jimmy Phelps, and Mike Mahaney.

By lap 32, Rudolph entered the top ten after starting 15th on the grid. Friesen only needed about 20 laps to reach the top ten. Phelps, the race winner at Fulton Thursday night started 10th on the grid and was racing in fifth before the hallway portion of the event. After starting at the rear of the field for a violation after his qualifying race, Mike Mahaney was working his way through the field.

On lap 46, McLaughlin passed veteran Pat Ward to enter the top three and just five laps later,  work his way past Williamson to take over the second position. McLaughlin had one of the fastest cars on the track because just two laps later on lap 53, McLaughlin took the lead away from Sheppard.  He then started to pull away from the field. With Rudolph, Friesen, Phelps, and Mahaney moving up through the field, Williamson was starting to slip away from the top three.

The caution flew on lap 59 after Demetrios Drellos and Chad Phelps came together in turn two. Phelps moved into third place on lap 65, just as McLaughlin and Sheppard began to pull away from the field. Friesen race into the top five on lap 70 and battled with fellow Canadian Williamson for fourth place.

McLaughlin was able to hold off Sheppard, Phelps, Friesen, and Wight to earn his first career Super DIRTcar Series victory.

“If you’re going to pass anyone to get your first win, and it was Matt Sheppard and that is pretty cool,”  McLaughlin said. “I cannot thank my sponsors and marketing partners enough; Cellular Sales, Toyota, Sweetners Plus, CME, and Bicknell Race Cars. Weedsport is so special to me. I even lived in the apartment next to the HBR shop for a year, so I was literally waking up every day and seeing this place. Weedsport is one of the best tracks in the Northeast and winning here is special.”

When McLaughlin was celebrating on Weedsport’s Victory Hill, he did not realize that two people that mean so much to him finished behind him.

“I didn’t know Jimmy was up there until we were on Victory Hill and it is special with Matt (Sheppard) and Jimmy (Phelps) being behind me. It is pretty cool to win on the same tracks that my dad did as well,” McLaughlin said.

Max got the opportunity to drive the Sweetners Plus entry after a conversation with Sheppard which led to a conversation with Vic Coffey. The car that Max race during OktoberFAST was a car that Sheppard built and was one of that Sheppard raced while driving the Sweetners Plus entry.

“To end the week this way is unbelievable,” car owner Vic Coffey said. “This deal with Max and his family was new to all of us. It is special that Max was able to pass and beat Matt after all the work and how this deal came together.”

Sheppard was happy to finish second after how things played out earlier in the week.

“Max came on pretty good there the second half of the race,” stated runner-up finisher Matt Sheppard. “We were really good last night and really close tonight. It is a good end of the week after how it started.”

Like Sheppard, Phelps was happy to finish at the podium at the end of the night.

“We got to race with Max for a little bit,” said Phelps.  “The last restart opened things up a bit and we raced with Matt.  We are happy with the way the night went from both the driver’s seat and promoters’ hat.  The night went well, and everyone was doing what they had to do.”

Friesen finished in fourth after starting 17th on the field. Williamson, who started on the front row, drove his way to a fifth-place finish.

Wight, Ward, Brett Hearn, Rudolph, and Mahaney completed the top-ten finishers. Mahaney gained 17 positions on the racetrack after starting 27th with an infraction following qualifying.

RACE RESULTS 10/11/20

Feature (75 Laps): 1. 32C-Max Mclaughlin [7][$10,000]; 2. 9S-Matt Sheppard [1][$5,000]; 3. 98H-Jimmy Phelps [10][$2,500]; 4. 44-Stewart Friesen [17][$1,800]; 5. 88-Mat Williamson [2][$1,600]; 6. 99L-Larry Wight [4][$1,400]; 7. 42P-Pat Ward [3][$1,300]; 8. 20-Brett Hearn [5][$1,200]; 9. 25-Erick Rudolph [15][$1,100]; 10. 35-Mike Mahaney [27][$500]; 11. 7MM-Michael Maresca [14][$800]; 12. 5H-Chris Hile [9][$700]; 13. 21A-Peter Britten [25][$600]; 14. 28-Jordan Mccreadie [13][$575]; 15. 3-Justin Haers [26][$550]; 16. 91-Billy Decker [8][$525]; 17. 83X-Tim Sears [23][$500]; 18. 111-Demetrios Drellos [19][$500]; 19. 60-Jackson Gill [20][$500]; 20. X-Chad Phelps [11][$500]; 21. 19M-Jessey Mueller [28][$]; 22. 215-Adam Pierson [6][$500]; 23. 4-Andy Bachetti [18][$500]; 24. 2020-Tyler Trump [21][$500]; 25. 32R-Ronnie Davis [16][$500]; 26. 19-Tim Fuller [22][$500]; 27. 15-Todd Root [24][$500]; 28. 98-Rocky Warner [12][$500]

Stirling Lubricants Hard Charger Award: 35-Mike Mahaney[+17]

Qualifying Flight-A
1. 9S-Matt Sheppard, 15.874; 2. X-Chad Phelps, 16.291; 3. 42P-Pat Ward, 16.327; 4. 2020-Tyler Trump, 16.362; 5. 32R-Ronnie Davis, 16.408; 6. 3-Justin Haers, 16.617; 7. 19M-Jessey Mueller, 16.687; 8. 33J-Robbie Johnston, 16.807; 9. 48TOO-Gary Tomkins, 16.82; 10. 3J-Marc Johnson, 16.924; 11. 46-Darren Smith, 16.999

Qualifying Flight-B
1. 32C-Max Mclaughlin, 16.08; 2. 98H-Jimmy Phelps, 16.128; 3. 19-Tim Fuller, 16.22; 4. 98-Rocky Warner, 16.22; 5. 23-Kyle Coffey, 16.299; 6. 49-Billy Dunn, 16.301; 7. 44-Stewart Friesen, 16.326; 8. 63-Adam Roberts, 16.41; 9. 83X-Tim Sears, 16.465; 10. 165-Rex King, 16.969; 11. TM1-Tim Murphy, 99.999

Qualifying Flight-C
1. 35-Mike Mahaney, 16.288; 2. 5H-Chris Hile, 16.343; 3. 99L-Larry Wight, 16.346; 4. 28-Jordan Mccreadie, 16.618; 5. 4-Andy Bachetti, 16.689; 6. 10S-Ryan Susice, 16.704; 7. 88A-Joe August, 17.082; 8. 1Z-Jessica Friesen, 17.115; 9. 14S-Brian Swarthout, 17.205; 10. 14NY-Daniel Johnson, 17.82; 11. 72-Cass Bennett, 18.217

Qualifying Flight-D
1. 20-Brett Hearn, 16.307; 2. 88-Mat Williamson, 16.422; 3. 111-Demetrios Drellos, 16.626; 4. 7MM-Michael Maresca, 16.676; 5. 21A-Peter Britten, 16.731; 6. 15-Todd Root, 16.906; 7. 24R-Garett Rushlow, 16.956; 8. 36B-Ben Bushaw, 16.998; 9. 14-CG Morey, 17.084; 10. 2-Jack Lehner, 99.999

Qualifying Flight-E
1. 215-Adam Pierson, 16.438; 2. 91-Billy Decker, 16.527; 3. 25-Erick Rudolph, 16.547; 4. 60-Jackson Gill, 16.552; 5. M1-David Marcuccilli, 16.565; 6. 12X-Dillon Grover, 16.666; 7. 55H-Matt Hulsizer, 16.887; 8. O2-Roy Bresnahan, 16.927; 9. 17-Marcus Dinkins, 17.046; 10. 21H-Bob Henry, 99.999

Heat #1 – Flight (A) (8 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer
1. 9S-Matt Sheppard [1]; 2. 42P-Pat Ward [3]; 3. X-Chad Phelps [2]; 4. 32R-Ronnie Davis [5]; 5. 2020-Tyler Trump [4]; 6. 3-Justin Haers [6]; 7. 19M-Jessey Mueller [7]; 8. 48TOO-Gary Tomkins [9]; 9. 3J-Marc Johnson [10]; 10. 33J-Robbie Johnston [8]; 11. 46-Darren Smith [11]

Heat #2 – Flight (B) (8 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer
1. 32C-Max Mclaughlin [1]; 2. 98H-Jimmy Phelps [2]; 3. 98-Rocky Warner [4]; 4. 44-Stewart Friesen [7]; 5. 19-Tim Fuller [3]; 6. 83X-Tim Sears [9]; 7. 49-Billy Dunn [6]; 8. 23-Kyle Coffey [5]; 9. 63-Adam Roberts [8]; 10. 165-Rex King [10]; 11. TM1-Tim Murphy [11]

Heat #3 – Flight (C) (8 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer
1. 5H-Chris Hile [2]; 2. 99L-Larry Wight [3]; 3. 28-Jordan Mccreadie [4]; 4. 4-Andy Bachetti [5]; 5. 1Z-Jessica Friesen [8]; 6. 88A-Joe August [7]; 7. 14S-Brian Swarthout [9]; 8. 72-Cass Bennett [11]; 9. 10S-Ryan Susice [6]; 10. 14NY-Daniel Johnson [10]; 11. 35-Mike Mahaney [1]

Heat #4 – Flight (D) (8 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer
1. 88-Mat Williamson [2]; 2. 20-Brett Hearn [1]; 3. 7MM-Michael Maresca [4]; 4. 111-Demetrios Drellos [3]; 5. 15-Todd Root [6]; 6. 21A-Peter Britten [5]; 7. 36B-Ben Bushaw [8]; 8. 24R-Garett Rushlow [7]; 9. 14-CG Morey [9]; 10. 2-Jack Lehner [10]

Heat #5 – Flight (E) (8 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer
1. 91-Billy Decker [2]; 2. 215-Adam Pierson [1]; 3. 25-Erick Rudolph [3]; 4. 60-Jackson Gill [4]; 5. M1-David Marcuccilli [5]; 6. 12X-Dillon Grover [6]; 7. 55H-Matt Hulsizer [7]; 8. O2-Roy Bresnahan [8]; 9. 17-Marcus Dinkins [9]; 10. 21H-Bob Henry [10]

Last Chance Showdown 1 (10 Laps) – Top 3 Transfer
1. 2020-Tyler Trump [1][]; 2. 83X-Tim Sears [4][]; 3. 21A-Peter Britten [5][]; 4. M1-David Marcuccilli [3][]; 5. 35-Mike Mahaney [17][]; 6. 10S-Ryan Susice [12][]; 7. 1Z-Jessica Friesen [2][]; 8. 19M-Jessey Mueller [6][]; 9. 55H-Matt Hulsizer [8][]; 10. 3J-Marc Johnson [11][]; 11. 165-Rex King [14][]; 12. 46-Darren Smith [16][]; 13. 14S-Brian Swarthout [7][]; 14. 17-Marcus Dinkins [13][]; 15. 24R-Garett Rushlow [10][]; 16. 23-Kyle Coffey [9][]; 17. 2-Jack Lehner [15][]

Last Chance Showdown 2 ( Laps)
1. 19-Tim Fuller [1][]; 2. 15-Todd Root [2][]; 3. 3-Justin Haers [3][]; 4. 12X-Dillon Grover [5][]; 5. 49-Billy Dunn [6][]; 6. 36B-Ben Bushaw [7][]; 7. 48TOO-Gary Tomkins [8][]; 8. 14-CG Morey [12][]; 9. 63-Adam Roberts [11][]; 10. 33J-Robbie Johnston [13][]; 11. 88A-Joe August [4][]; 12. 14NY-Daniel Johnson [14][]; 13. O2-Roy Bresnahan [10][]; 14. 72-Cass Bennett [9][]; 15. 21H-Bob Henry [15][]; 16. TM1-Tim Murphy [16][]