McLAUGHLIN BEATS THE RAIN, FINISHES 4TH IN TEXAS FORT WORTH, TX --- "Drive hard, the rain is only 15 minutes away." Those were the words of Goulds Pumps crew chief Jay Smith as dark clouds moved in on the Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday. With...
McLAUGHLIN BEATS THE RAIN, FINISHES 4TH IN TEXAS
FORT WORTH, TX --- "Drive hard, the rain is only 15 minutes away." Those were the words of Goulds Pumps crew chief Jay Smith as dark clouds moved in on the Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday. With crew members running back and forth to the NASCAR weather radar, it was becoming clear that the Coca-Cola 300 wasn't going to make it the full 200 laps. Race teams began to make strategy calls to allow their drivers the opportunity to race to the front and record a top finish.
Jay Smith made one of the better strategy calls of the race as he opted for a two-tire pit stop late in the race, allowing McLaughlin to gain time on the leader. Smith also made a call late in the race for McLaughlin to stay on the track and delay his pit stop a few more laps than most of the leaders. This strategy worked when a caution fell across the field, trapping many cars a lap down and allowing McLaughlin to pit under yellow flag conditions. All of a sudden with the rain moving in on the speedway, McLaughlin was in the top-five and headed forward. A late race accident between Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jeff Purvis brought out the final caution. As the track was being cleared of debris, the bottom fell out of the sky and rain doused the packed speedway, leading to the early ending of the race on lap 163 of 200. McLaughlin was in fourth place when NASCAR made the decision to end the race.
"I have to give a lot of the credit today to Jay Smith and the Goulds Pumps crew," McLaughlin said. "The decisions made in the pits gave us the chance for a top-five and the car improved as the race went along. This race was exactly what we needed to regain some lost momentum. Now we head to Nashville to try and make it two wins in row at Nashville Speedway."
Mark Martin claimed the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 300, with Jeff Burton and Jeff Green rounding out the top-three. With McLaughlin's fourth place finish he moved into fourth place in the NASCAR Busch Grand National Point Standing, only 27 points behind leader Jeff Burton. Burton and third place Mark Martin will skip the Nashville race.
McLaughlin and the rest of the Busch Series regulars will head to Nashville Speedway for the Bellsouth 320 on Saturday. McLaughlin won last year's event after destroying a car in practice. CBS and MRN will provide live coverage of the event at 2:00pm EST.
RACE FACTS POINT STANDINGS Started: 24th 1. Jeff Burton 808 Finished: 4th 2. Matt Kenseth 800 Laps: 163/163 3. Mark Martin 797 Money Won: $39,300 4. Mike McLaughlin 780