Max McLaughlin delivered an 11th-place effort in his NASCAR K&N Pro Series (NKNPSE) debut on Monday evening at New Smyrna Speedway. The 18-year old turned in a solid performance throughout the weekend in only his third-career start on asphalt.
McLaughlin took the green flag on Monday night from the 13th position after weather cancelled qualifying and delayed the green flag from Sunday night. The Mooresville, NC native went into tire conservation mode in the early going to preserve his General Tires for the later stages of the 175-lap event. Despite the effort to save tires and a tight condition in the center of both corners, McLaughlin managed to challenge for a top-10 position.
McLaughlin restarted 10th after the first competition caution on lap 64 and remained in the fight for a top-10 position for the majority of the contest. However, a persistent push lingered in the nose of his No. 1 Toyota Camry and hampered his progress through the field. On the final restart of the night, McLaughlin restarted 10th in the outside lane, but was held up when the fourth-place car had trouble accelerating through the restart box. McLaughlin fell to 12th but managed to regain one spot to take his first NKNPSE checkered flag in 11th position.
Max McLaughlin Quote:“I definitely learned a ton. Going into it, I didn’t really know what to expect as far as saving tires for the end, but I have a different view of it now and feel a lot better about going to Bristol (Motor Speedway) in April. (Crew chief) Robert (Huffman) and the guys worked hard in a short period of time getting this Toyota Camry and team together, and I can’t thank all them enough. I feel like I have a better idea of what I need after tonight and can’t wait to go to Bristol.”