Max McLaughlin, Jimmy Phelps, HBR Enjoy Success At Super DIRT Week
Story By: MANDEE PAUCH / HBR – WEEDSPORT, NY – The 46th annual NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week at Oswego Speedway is officially in the history books.
Battling a field of 55 cars attempting qualify for Sunday’s Billy Whittaker Cars 200 isn’t the easiest task to conquer but the HBR team was able to do it once again.
Wednesday afternoon was the first full day of Super DIRT Week at Oswego Speedway for the Big Block Modifieds. Jimmy Phelps was looking strong with an eleventh-place time overall in Wednesday’s practice session. Phelps’ teammate, Max McLaughlin, however, was on the opposite side of the spectrum battling fuel issues, prohibiting him from making any laps in Wednesday’s practice session.
“I thought we were really better than that,” added Phelps. “As the track got slicker we started to get better. We went into Thursday morning feeling good.”
The track surface for Thursday’s time trials took an interesting turn by taking rubber midway through, throwing several teams off guard.
“The guys who timed early ‘missed the bus’ so to speak,” Phelps said. “When the track took rubber the times changed which kind of buried us. We fell back to 27th in time. It didn’t reflect our racecar at all. It was disappointing nonetheless.”
McLaughlin made several heads turn in Thursday mornings practice session, timing second to Peter Britten, leading up to time trials.
“We laid down a really good lap and thought we were going to be set until the track rubbered up in time trials,” added McLaughlin.
McLaughlin timed eighth overall.
Thursday’s time trial sessions lined the drivers up for Fridays nights ‘Camping World Friday Night Lights Billy Whittaker Cars 200 Triple 30s.’
McLaughlin rolled off in the second triple 30 heat race in third.
“We tried to be patient until lap traffic then I finally made my move with four to go for the lead,” noted McLaughlin. “The car was really good. Really, we had a good car all week. It’s cool to get another win at Oswego (McLaughlin won the Futures race last year). My dad has won there several times before so being able to win at a track with family history is really special.”
McLaughlin pulled away to win the second triple 30 over Rich Laubach and Mike Mahaney.
Phelps started on the outside of the third row in the third triple 30 heat race.
“We really didn’t feel like we had the car that we had in the beginning of the week,” noted Phelps. “We were able to drive up to sixth but we weren’t real confident with the car so we went back to square one to where the car was on Wednesday.”
Phelps closed out the evening with a sixth-place finish in the third triple 30.
Friday evening’s triple 30 results then lined the drivers up for their starting positions for Sunday’s Billy Whittaker Cars 200 main event.
Phelps started on the outside of the tenth row for the main event.
“We rode around early while it was one lane just like everyone else did,” he said. “Then we came in for harder tires and found out that wasn’t the way to go. We came in again and put softer tires on and was starting to go forward until we got into a jingle which put us back to the rear. I thought we had more than our results showed but we ran out of laps.”
After a few pit stops and a minor mishap, Phelps and the team were able to bounce back and rally a solid top five finish.
“Fortunately we were able to overcome some diversity and were able to come back through to finish fifth,” Phelps said. “The team did a great job all week, I can’t thank them enough.”
McLaughlin’s Friday evening win set him up on the inside of the fourth row for the 200-lap main event.
“There were some unexpected things happen to the track,” added McLaughlin. “It really messed up our strategy which put us behind the whole race.”
Due to the drastic change in the track surface, McLaughlin pitted several times to try and accommodate to the changes.
“We were never really able to get back up to the front,” he said. “At one point we were up to fifth, we pitted and went out on a harder tire. We made it back up to eighth, came back in to put a softer tire on. That softer tire made us really tight so we came in and made some adjustments again and could never get back on track after that.”
Despite battling the track surface all afternoon, McLaughlin and his team were able to come back through and cap off the evening with an 11th-place out of 41 cars.
After Super DIRT Week’s results, Phelps currently sits fifth in the Super DIRTcar Series championship point standings while McLaughlin sits in seventh.
The team will be back in action at Brockville Ontario Speedway on Friday, Oct. 15 before closing out the season as all dirt roads lead to Charlotte for the World of Outlaws World Finals at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday, Nov. 2-4, 2017.http://raceproweekly.com/rpw/2017/10/max-mclaughlin-jimmy-phelps-hbr-enjoy-success-at-super-dirt-week/Dirt - Team News