MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Max McLaughlin is headed back to his dirt racing roots.
McLaughlin has reached an agreement to drive the No. 32c Sweeteners Plus big-block modified fielded by Coffey-McCreadie Enterprises in DIRTcar-sanctioned events this year. It’s the same car McLaughlin drove during DIRTcar Oktoberfast week last season.
“It was a last minute deal last year,” McLaughlin explained. “I called Vic (Coffey) said, ‘Hey I have a small sponsor that wants to race and no car, what do you think?’ After we had some success and won Weedsport everyone was pretty pumped and said, ‘Let’s do it again.’ Everyone wants to win races, as do I. I feel we have a good bond as a team and good equipment, so I want to go out and win this year.”
McLaughlin is also set to compete in the Short Track Super Series this season driving the No. 357 modified fielded by Norm Hansell.
The 20-year-old racer has spent most of his time in the last few seasons focused on chasing a career in NASCAR. He’s enjoyed some success, including earning an ARCA Menards Series East win at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) Int’l in 2019, but now he’s turning his attention back to dirt.
“It’s a good feeling,” McLaughlin said about knowing what he’ll be doing heading into the new season. “One of the worst feelings in racing is not knowing your next step. To be able to have a game plan and plan out a schedule in January is a great accomplishment.”
For McLaughlin and Coffey-McCreadie Enterprises, it was a match that paid dividends right away with a victory in the finale of the DIRTcar Oktoberfast week at Weedsport (N.Y.) Speedway. It was his first victory in Super DIRTcar Series competition.
“They are never easy to win,” McLaughlin said. “I’ve ran second in that series (Super DIRTcar Series) more than anyone else without a win. When you win the first one the next seems to come a little bit easier as you have a different mindset. The first one is always the hardest.”
McLaughlin, the son of veteran racer Mike McLaughlin, has a diverse racing resume. In addition to his stock car and big-block modified experience, he’s also raced a micro sprint, tour-type modified and a midget during his career.
“It has helped a ton,” McLaughlin said of his experience racing different styles of race cars. “I could have stayed down south again this year and raced (and) I still will go down. Coming up here and winning at Weedsport with Sweeteners lit a fire underneath me that I haven’t felt in a while and I wanted to feel it more.”
McLaughlin feels that the upcoming season may be the best opportunity he’s ever had to win races and turn heads during his young career. The goal now is to capitalize on it.
“This is my best shot to come and win races this year,” McLaughlin said. “We have a good program this year and there’s nothing like winning big events and I think we can do more of that this year.”