Pair Of Modified Champions To Be Honored At New Hampshire NASCAR to Recognize McLaughlin, Szegedy On Sept. 13 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 8, 2008) -- As part of the season-long celebration of 60 Years of Modified Champions, 1988 NASCAR ...
Pair Of Modified Champions To Be Honored At New Hampshire
NASCAR to Recognize McLaughlin, Szegedy On Sept. 13
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 8, 2008) -- As part of the season-long celebration of 60 Years of Modified Champions, 1988 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour titlist Mike McLaughlin and 2003 winner Todd Szegedy will be honored at the New Hampshire 100 on Saturday, Sept. 13 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
McLaughlin, who was a consistent contender for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour crown in each of the series' first five years of existence, broke through in 1988 for a 155-point margin of victory against Reggie Ruggiero in the final standings. Szegedy, who has been a consistent title contender for most of this decade, was able to capture the 2003 title following a tight battle with Chuck Hossfeld that resulted in a 32-point margin of victory.
Originally from Waterloo, N.Y., McLaughlin wasted no time becoming a championship contender. During the inaugural season of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 1985, McLaughlin finished as the championship runner-up to the legendary Richie Evans. He finished sixth and third, respectively in 1986 and 1987 before his title run in 1988.
McLaughlin was able to compile five wins, 15 top fives and 20 top 10s in 24 starts in 1988 while driving the No. 12 Sherwood Industries car for owner Billy Corazzo. The title campaign was highlighted by wins in Martinsville, Va., Indianapolis, Ind., Oswego, N.Y., Oxford, Maine and Owego, N.Y.
In his last full season in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour McLaughlin finished fourth in the 1989 title standings. After making a few more starts in the early 1990's McLaughlin closed out his Modified career with 16 wins and 15 Coors Light Pole Awards to his credit. He went on to record six wins and 110 top 10 finishes in 314 NASCAR Nationwide Series starts and twice finished third in the division's points standings.
Today McLaughlin works for Joe Gibbs Racing in various capacities, including driver development and as a test driver.
Szegedy is one of four past NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champions that still compete on a full-time basis. Currently sixth in the 2008 season standings, Szegedy has been a competitive threat for the title in of his six full-time seasons in the series.
The Ridgefield, Conn., native made an immediate impact in the series. In his first full season in 2002, Szegedy won at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and finished seventh in points to earn Rookie of the Year honors. In his second year, at the age of 27, Szegedy became the youngest driver to ever win the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title, and in the process became the first driver to earn Rookie of the Year honors and the series championship in back-to-back seasons.
Szegedy earned the 2003 championship on the strength of four wins, 11 top fives and 14 top 10s in 18 starts when he drove the No. 50 Haynes Materials Ford for owner Don Barker. He made trips to Victory Lane in Lake Erie, Pa., Beech Ridge, Maine, Adirondack, N.Y., and Stafford, Conn., but it was an eighth place finish in the season finale in Thompson, Conn., that clinched the title in a close battle with Hossfeld.
Szegedy has finished fifth and second, respectively in the two seasons prior to 2008. Currently the driver of the No. 2 Wisk-Snuggle Ford for owner Mike Smeriglio, Szegedy has 13 wins and 63 top 10s in 105 career starts and won this past Sunday at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway.
New Hampshire, the site where McLaughlin and Szegedy will be honored, has significant history for both. McLaughlin is fifth on the track's all-time wins list with six victories across three-different series, and he won the inaugural NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Camping World Series races at the track in 1990.
"I think it's awesome that they [NASCAR] are honoring all of the past champions," McLaughlin said. "I'm definitely looking forward to going back. Loudon was like Daytona to us, it was the highlight of the year to race there. Looking back on it, it was definitely my favorite race track."
Szegedy won the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at New Hampshire on this date last year and has consistently been a contender at the "Magic Mile" throughout his career.
"It's pretty cool to be honored there," Szegedy said. "It's one of our premier tracks, so it's definitely an honor."
The New Hampshire 100 will be the 12th of 16 races on the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule. The green flag is set to drop in Loudon, N.H., on Saturday, Sept. 13 and 1 p.m. For ticket information please visit New Hampshire's official Web site (nhms.com).