Max McLaughlin continued his hot streak with a third-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway on Thursday night, his best result in eight starts this season. The driver of the No. 1 Mohawk Northeast Toyota Camry earned his third-consecutive top-five finish and his best-career outing at “Thunder Valley” after leading 19 laps in the second half of the Bush’s Beans 200.
The starting lineup was set per the ARCA Menards Racing Series rulebook and positioned McLaughlin 20th on the starting grid. The unenviable starting position was short-lived as “Mad Max” sliced his way into the top 10 by lap nine. A flurry of three cautions slowed the pace in the event’s first 40 laps, but also allowed McLaughlin the ability to crack the top five by lap 50. He continued his run inside the top five until the first scheduled break on lap 72.
Crew chief Dave McCarty and the Mohawk Northeast team made slight adjustments to fine tune McLaughlin’s tight balance in the center and a loose condition on corner exit. The changes strengthened the No. 1 Toyota Camry as he was able to challenge for a podium position when a caution flew on lap 105. McCarty and company kept McLaughlin on track when the leaders pitted under the caution and allowed him to restart second on lap 120. He took full advantage of the real estate on the front row and claimed the race lead on lap 122. “Mad Max” led for 19 laps and settled into second at the final scheduled break on lap 150.
As other competitors gambled with alternative strategies, McLaughlin lined up fourth for what would be the race’s final restart on lap 162. He muscled his way to third and challenged for the runner-up spot before solidifying his podium position. The third-place effort was McLaughlin’s best career finish at “The Last Great Colosseum” in three appearances and continues the No. 1 team’s strong late-summer run with finishes of fourth or better in their last three starts.
Max McLaughlin Quote:“We had a great run tonight with our Mohawk Northeast Camry. It was a lot of fun to run the second lane, run up front, and lead some laps tonight. This was definitely our best effort of the year and this team keeps getting better each time out this season. All the guys at HRE, Toyota, and Toyota Racing Development have put in a lot of work to improve our program over the summer and it’s really starting to show.”