Mike Laughlin, Jr. cruises to his first Hooters ProCup win First victory since fiery Homestead accident Hudson, NC - The scene is eerily etched in his memory, brought to life and painfully left there by a piece of film he has often seen ...
Mike Laughlin, Jr. cruises to his first Hooters ProCup win First victory since fiery Homestead accident
Hudson, NC - The scene is eerily etched in his memory, brought to life and painfully left there by a piece of film he has often seen repeated on the racing programs that he watches. Over and over again he is witness to a young man on the threshold of a promising racing career crawling then collapsing on a piece of scorching asphalt...
The white hot flames lap at his hands and neck and are intent on fully engulfing him. Rescuers race to put the flames out. His life is saved, but it's too late too save him from the pain. The immense rehabilitation will require months. Left will be the physical scars of healing and the mental self abuse of what if.
Faith had become the mentor of intervention of a plan gone terribly wrong. He wore no gloves to protect his hands. A simple oversight for a young man in a hurry to make his mark on a sport that waits for no one.
No one could have blamed the young man if he had left his racing career laying on that piece of burning asphalt. Left it there in the piercing sun of what is the Homestead Motorsports Complex. Quitting however, isn't what Mike Laughlin, Jr. is all about.
Less then a year later Laughlin was back in the drivers seat, wearing his protective gloves, ready to re-establish his promising racing career.
His heeling process continued Friday night at Tri-County Motor Speedway when he steered his career back into the white hot spotlight of success earning his first United Speed Alliance Racing Hooters ProCup triumph in the Jackaroo Sauces 250 presented by WKBC 97.3 FM North Wilkesboro.
An emotional welcome from his crew in victory lane was embraced by the roar of the crowd who recognized the stunning achievement of the 27-year-old driver.
Laughlin won a heated duel with Derrick Kelley to take command of the race on lap 231 and then held off "Super" Mario Gosselin to win by .709 seconds. It was his first win in 29 starts driving the Valenite/Muzzy Broadhead Ford Taurus. Eighteen of the 32 starters finished the race on the lead lap.
"The good Lord has been trying our patience lately, " said Laughlin, pointing out that he had finished second twice this year. "This is a big, big victory for this team. The return of Leon Woods (engine builder) has been the key to our turnaround this year. Tonight is the biggest win of my career and one of the biggest moments in my life."
Laughlin survived 14 caution periods for 84 laps. There were eight lead changes among seven drivers with Laughlin leading twice for 30 laps.
Gosselin, Lake Wales, FL, won the Discount Auto Parts Pole Award in his W.J.Plemons Investment's Chevrolet (16.741) then lead the first 129 laps to win the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Challenge.
"I was too tight in the corners there at the end and Mike (Laughlin) was just too fast," said Gosselin.
Jerry Rector, Fountain Inn, SC, tied for the pole but his second lap was slower. He started on the outside of the first row, led laps 140-143, and finished 16th driving the Red Grill's Chevrolet.
Kelley, winless in 26 starts, appeared ready to win his first series event leading 74 laps but his Discount Auto Parts Chevrolet lost all but fourth gear. The Auburndale, FL, driver finished third. Bobby Gill, Dalton, GA, finished fourth in his AquaTech Chevrolet and now trails points leader Jay Fogleman, Durham, NC, by 10 points in the $200,000 Series Points Championship. Gill earned the W.J. Plemons Investments Hard Charger Award when he improved 20 positions. Fogleman finished seventh in his KIDDE Safety Ford.
Mardy Lindley, Taylors, SC, won the Miller Beer Rookie of the Race competition finishing fifth in his Aloe Lu-Ya/ Meineke Pontiac.
Steven Christian, Buford, GA, drove his Lucas Oil Products Chevrolet to a sixth place finish.
Mike Herman, Jr., Kannapolis, NC, finished eight in his Today's Fireplaces Chevrolet.
Toby Porter, Greenville, SC, was ninth in his First Class/Pepsi Chevrolet.
Don Satterfield, Spartanburg, SC, had a career best seventh place pole run but was forced to turn over his Hawk Saw Blades Chevrolet to Marty Ward on the first pit stop due to illness. Ward, Marietta, SC, finished 10th.
Tim Clayton, Inman, SC, finished ninth on the lead lap but was disqualified when loose lead was found by USAR officials in his Budweiser Chevrolet during the post-race inspection.
The show will be aired on Speedvision Friday, May 21 at 9 P.M.
Concord Motorsports Park in Concord, NC, will host round seven of the $1.5 million 20-race series Saturday, May 29. The Naturally Fresh Foods 250 presented by Today's Fireplaces will start at 8 P.M.
Jackaroo Sauces 250 presented by WKBC 97.3 FM North Wilkesboro Fin Start Car Driver Hometown Sponsor Car Run Led 1 4 7 Mike Laughlin Jr. Simpsonville, SC Valenite Tool/Muzzy Broadhead Ford 251 30 2 1 10 Mario Gosselin Lake Wales, FL W.J. Plemons Investments Chevrolet 251 129 3 3 21 Derrick Kelley Auburndale, FL Discount Auto Parts Chevrolet 251 74 4 24 69 Bobby Gill Dalton, GA AquaTech International Chevrolet 251 0 5 5 05 Mardy Lindley Taylors, SC Aloe Lu-Ya/Meineke Pontiac 251 9 6 23 0 Steve Christian Sugar Hill, GA Lucas Oil Products Chevrolet 251 0 7 21 4 Jay Fogleman Durham, NC KIDDE Safety Fire Extinguishers Ford 251 0 8 15 34 Mike Herman Jr. Kannapolis, NC Today's Fireplace Chevrolet 251 0 9 19 80 Toby Porter Greenville, SC 1st Class/Pepsi Chevrolet 251 0 10 7 1 Don Satterfield Spartanburg,SC Hawk Saw Blades Chevrolet 251 0 11 22 14 Charlie Ford Charles City, VA Sun Graphics Chevrolet 251 0 12 25 27 Johnny Rumley Winston Salem,NC Bob Huff Chevrolet Chevrolet 251 0 13 10 23 Michael Ritch High Point, NC Jackaroo Sauces Chevrolet 251 0 14 9 36 Trent Owens Harrisburg, NC 1-800-BE-PETTY Pontiac 251 0 15 29 25 Scott Wimmer Wausau, WI Jackaroo Gold Sauces Chevrolet 251 0 16 2 77 Jerry Rector Fountain Inn, NC Red's Grille Chevrolet 251 4 17 8 73 Jeff Agnew Floyd, VA Twin City Motor Exchange Chevrolet 251 0 18 28 08 Ronnie Davidson Lenoir, NC C&T Classics Chevrolet 250 0 19 16 58 Jeremy Bowser Clearwater, FL Key Bank & Trust Ford 250 0 20 6 95 Stacy Vicars St. Paul, VA Robert Sidney Racing Chevrolet 250 0 21 32 37 Don Sprouse Greenville, SC Laughlin Racing Products Ford 249 0 22 31 57 Joe Harrison, Jr Renick, WV Harrison's Automotive Chevrolet 247 0 23 13 47 Andy Thurman Concord, NC Naturally Fresh Mountain Spring Water Ford 246 4 24 30 89 Karen Schulz Statesville, NC WKBC 97.3 North Wilkesboro Pontiac 245 0 25 17 22 Bill Plemons Jr. Locust Grove,GA Hooters Restaurants Chevrolet 233 0 26 27 39 Eddie Beahr Mechanicsville, VA Fidelity Printing, Inc Ford 220 0 27 11 55 Shane Huffman Claremont, NC Galaxie Foods Chevrolet 200 1 28 12 30 Mart Nesbitt Asheville, NC State Fair Brand Corn Dogs Chevrolet 178 0 29 14 11 Chuck Walls Flat Rock, NC Laughlin Racing Products Chevrolet 64 0 30 18 09 Jabe Jones Martin, GA Coors Light Chevrolet 40 0 31 20 26 Mickey Hudspeth Ronda, NC Hudspeth Racing Ford 19 0 DQ 26 07 Tim Clayton Inman, SC Budweiser Chevrolet 251 0 # of cautions - 14 total, Laps under caution - 84, Total time of race - 1:54:10, Margin of victory - .709 Lap Leaders - 1-129 Mario Gosselin, 130-138 Mike Laughlin, Jr., 139 Shane Huffman, 140-143 Jerry Rector, 144-147 Andy Thurman, 148-156 Mardy Lindley, 157-230 Derrick Kelley, 231-251 Mike Laughlin, Jr. Discount Auto Parts Pole - $1,000 - Mario Gosselin Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader - $1,000 - Mario Gosselin W.J. Plemons Hard Charger - $500 - Bobby Gill Miller Lite Rookie of the Race - $1,000 - Mardy Lindley Failed to qualify: Robin Caldwell, Jason Bowser, Mark Whitaker, Jimmy McClain