Max McLaughlin earned his third straight top-10 finish of 2019 on Saturday night at Memphis International Raceway with a sixth-place run. “Mad Max” put on a show after winning his first-career pole award in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) by leading a race-high 86 of 150 laps. His third straight top-10 finish also vaulted him to fifth in the point standings and into the championship conversation.
McLaughlin posted his first-career pole with a 23.30 second lap, two tenths quicker than the field in qualifying on Saturday afternoon. The driver of the No. 1 Mohawk Northeast Camry asserted himself as the dominant car by pacing the field until the first competition caution on lap 51. McLaughlin stayed on track during the caution and continued to hold a steady race pace at the point until surrendering the lead on lap 87.
The 19-year-old rookie kept within striking distance of the leader in second until the race changed on restart at lap 103. McLaughlin restarted second on lap 103 but contact from the third-place running No. 4 machine caused McLaughlin and the race leader to slide up the banking in Turn 1. McLaughlin kept his Camry out of harm’s way but lost several positions. He managed to stay inside the top-10 and took the checkered flag in the sixth position. After five of 13 races, McLaughlin resides in the top-five in the NKNPSE championship standings, only 20 points out of the lead.
Max McLaughlin Quote:“This race team keeps getting better. I felt like we had a winning car today, but our shot kind of went away after getting moved on that restart. It felt great to win the pole and lead a bunch of laps. That just shows how strong this Mohawk Northeast Camry is and says a lot about this race team. We’re close, and if we keep running this strong we’re going to give ourselves some chances to win races.”