DAYTONA BEACH, FL --- (February 10, 2001) "I haven't had much time to think about anything." Those were the words of new Joe Gibbs Racing Busch Grand National driver Mike McLaughlin when asked about Saturday's NAPA 300. McLaughlin, 44, was...
DAYTONA BEACH, FL --- (February 10, 2001) "I haven't had much time to think about anything." Those were the words of new Joe Gibbs Racing Busch Grand National driver Mike McLaughlin when asked about Saturday's NAPA 300. McLaughlin, 44, was named to drive the #20 unsponsored Busch Grand National Pontiac on February 5th, just 12 days before the green flag drops on the first race of the 2001 season. McLaughlin has been busy installing his seats and helping to finalize preparations for his debut with Joe Gibbs Racing on the 2.5 mile tri-oval.
"I am really looking forward to getting back inside a race car and hopefully being able to run up front every race," McLaughlin said. "The last couple of years were not up to the level I would like, but I believe all that will change this year. Everything is in place for a solid racing season. Hopefully we can get off to a fast start and attract a sponsor for the team."
McLaughlin will take to track for the first time ever inside the # 20 Pontiac Grand Prix on Tuesday February 13th, when the NASCAR Busch Grand National cars hit the track for the first practice session of the year.
* Also making their debut during the NAPA 300 will be McLaughlin's crew chief, Tim Shutt. The Harrisburg, PA native was named crew chief for the # 20 team during the offseason after serving in the role of car chief last year for the team.
* Carolina Panther and future NFL Hall-Of-Famer Reggie White addressed the entire Joe Gibbs Racing Organization on Wednesday February 7th. White spoke on the subject of "What it takes to be a Champion." Following the speech, White and Gibbs shared many former stories with the group about their battles when White was with the Eagles and Gibbs with the Redskins.
* McLaughlin captured the Bud Pole award for the 1998 NAPA 300 with a speed of 190.134 mph.
* Number Change? Last year Joe Gibbs Racing competed with the # 4 and # 18 cars in the Busch Series. This year the # 4 team with Jeff Purvis behind the wheel will compete as the # 18 MBNA Pontiac and last year's # 18 team will become # 20 with new driver Mike McLaughlin. The number change allows the Busch teams to compete with the same numbers that adorn the Winston Cup cars driven by Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart.
First Race results with Joe Gibbs Racing
* Bobby Labonte started the 1995 Daytona 500 in 20th place and finished 30th after being involved in a lap 185 accident. Despite the rough start, Labonte rebounded to finish the season in 10th place and recorded 3 wins.
* Tony Stewart's first race with Joe Gibbs Racing was a Busch Grand National race at Indianapolis Raceway Park in 1997. Stewart started 7th and finished 34th due to an accident. Stewart made his first Winston Cup start for Gibbs in the 1999 Daytona 500 where he captured the outside pole. A sour engine led to a 28th place finish. Stewart also rebounded from the start and captured three wins during his rookie season.
* Jeff Purvis made his first start for Joe Gibbs Racing in Daytona Beach last season. Purvis started 12th and made his way to the front of the pack before a punctured radiator led to the end of his afternoon.
- Charlie Roakes