Max McLaughlin tallied his fourth top-10 finish of the season in his fifth start in the ARCA Menards Series’ inaugural outing on Daytona International Speedway’s (DIS) road course. “Mad Max” finished seventh in the 28-lap event that saw constantly evolving track conditions that gradually changed from wet to dry throughout the race.
McLaughlin entered the event at DIS hopeful of repeating his first-career victory at Watkins Glen International and posted the seventh-fastest lap in the abbreviated practice session on Friday afternoon. He took the green flag from the 16th-position as the lineup was set per the ARCA rulebook. A strong thunderstorm delayed the event until nightfall and presented a damp racing surface as McLaughlin and the field began the race on wet weather tires. Despite a lack of rain experience, McLaughlin quickly moved into the top 10 and ran eighth at the halfway caution on lap 15.
As most of the field bolted on another set of wet weather tires at the halfway break, crew chief Dave McCarty and the Mohawk Northeast / PaytonsPromise.org team put on a set of General Tire slicks as the track continued to dry. On the ensuing restart, McLaughlin quickly made a move for sixth, but contact from the No. 20 car sent him spinning in turn 3 of the infield section. He righted his Toyota Camry in 12th, but lost significant track position in the process. However, McLaughlin quickly found his rhythm on the slick tires and began advancing up the leader board as the track continued to naturally dry. He reentered the top-10 with five laps remaining on lap 23 and was clicking off laps several seconds quicker than his competitors. In the closing laps, McLaughlin took over the seventh position and took the checkered flag for his third straight top-10 finish.
Max McLaughlin Quote:“Road course racing is a lot of fun, but the first half of the rain was a big challenge for us. We weren’t all that good in the wet when we started, but as the track started changing and drying out we got a lot better. Dave made a good call to put slicks on at halfway and we would have been in a lot better shape had we not gotten turned around there on the restart. That kind of derailed us, but our pace was really good through the infield and chicanes. I was really getting beat when we’d get on the big track or else we would have made up a lot more time when it started drying up. All in all, it was a difficult set of circumstances in the rain and the track changing, but the guys did a great job today and I’m happy that we we’re able to give Payton and PaytonsPromise.org on our Mohawk Northeast Toyota Camry.”