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Aiming for Checkers on Saturday Night

(July 5, 2017) The DMR Auto Sales Street Stock 75 is the marquee event at Speedway 660 this weekend. Our “old-school” division usually run 30 lap features, but it’ll be a bit of an endurance race for the drivers and cars come Saturday night. Luc McLaughlin is having a great Street Stock season, having won two of five features. He has Rookie of the Year Awards and Championships in our Sharp Shooter and Street Stock divisions, but has never won the DMR Auto Sales 75. He hopes to get that job done this weekend.

A Conversation with Luc McLaughlin

Wade: How do you prepare the car and yourself for the biggest Street Stock race of the season?

Luc: Just like every week, we’ll follow our full maintenance schedule on the car. We’ll make sure to take extra time to check everything over and we’ll add a couple of extra fans on the brakes and the power steering to keep them cooler for the longer run. And we’ll try to make sure the car is handling well when we get to Speedway 660 for practice on Saturday.

You have to be mentally and physically prepared as a driver for these longer races too. If you get a long green flag run it’s pretty tiring physically. Mentally it’s difficult to maintain your focus out there and if we get a few cautions you have to be ready to relax for a minute and hit the reset button to be ready for the next green flag.Luc McLaughlin street stock feature win June 10, 2017Luc has been on fire in 2017. He’s been on the podium in four of five DMR Auto Sales Street Stock feature races so far this season and has two trips to victory lane.

Wade: This is not an easy race for a driver to win.

Luc: It is a tough race for sure. We’ve never won it, but hopefully we’ll have a great run on Saturday and be in contention for the win when the laps start to wind down. But to do that you have to spend some quality time in the shop preparing the car and you have to make sure you are personally ready too.

If your car is set up properly and handling well it’s a little easier because you won’t have to fight the car to make it turn. You need to drink lots of water for a couple of days before the race and get a good night’s sleep on Friday to make sure you are as ready as possible and as sharp as you can be for the race.Luc McLaughlin Street Stock heat win May 21, 2017Everyone loves to win races and Luc is no exception. He enjoys the wins when they come his way, but knows racing has its ups and downs. This two time Speedway 660 champ also knows what it feels like when you can’t buy a win.

Wade: Racing sure is a strange sport. You won the Street Stock championship in 2014, but things kinda went south for you in 2015. You took last year off, but this season you have bounced back nicely.

Luc: 2014 was a dream season for us. Winning the DMR Street Stock title after winning the Rookie of the Year the season before was pretty amazing. But in 2015 we had a rough time. We just couldn’t dial in the set-up on the car and struggled a lot all season and never really got a handle on it.

But this season we’ve got another car. It has a good history and we’ve added our own twist to it and so far it’s been great for us. And we’ve had some luck this season too. Things have gone our way and we haven’t really had any mechanical issues or wrecks so far. Let’s just hope our luck continues this weekend.Luc MacLaughlin 2014 street stock champLuc sure has a lot of family and friends supporting his racing efforts as evidenced by this photo from the 2014 Night of Champions when he captured the Street Stock title. In 2013 he was Street Stock Rookie of the Year; 2012 Sharp Shooter champ and; 2011 Sharp Shooter Rookie of the Year.  

Wade: You are leading the points early in the season and have got to be pretty pleased about the way things are going.

Luc: Yeah we’ve been racking up the points early in the season, but one little mechanical issue or getting caught up in a wreck can change all of that. Shawn Hyslop has been real consistent this season and young Riley Goodwin won the feature last weekend, giving him two on the season.

We just couldn’t get going in the last race and ended up settling for fourth place. But that’s racin. Over-all it’s been a pretty good season so far, but its far from over and who-ever wins the championship is going to have to earn it.Street Stock action 2017Luc has been the guy everyone, including Courtney Barton (#21), has been chasing since the season began back in May. He’s hoping to win the DMR Auto Sales Street Stock 75 for the first time this Saturday night.

Wade: People love Street Stock racing. You run older, steel body cars and your tires aren’t as sticky as the Pro Stocks and Sportsman. There’s a lot of slippin and slidin out there and a fair amount of rubbin too.

Luc: Rubbin is racing. It’s a heavy car on fairly narrow tires and sometimes they don’t handle the way you hope they would. It’s a blast to drive these cars because you get to lean on guys a little bit and they lean on you.

There’s a lot of give and take out on the track and no one gets too excited or upset over a little scuffling. Having said that, sometimes it does get a little out of hand and I think the fans like that about Street Stock racing. But over-all everybody respects each other and a far as I’m concerned it’s the best division in racing.Street Stock action 2017So far this year Luc has managed to stay out of trouble on the race track.  On opening day Luc managed to avoid a little “old-school” racin incident involving Destiny Enkel (#52) and Rick Cashol (#54).  

Wade: I know you’ve got a lot of fans, friends and family cheering for you every week. I remember that championship photo from 2014 with a big group of supporters. Having those folks on your side has got to be huge.

Luc: Yeah it takes a lot of support and I’m fortunate to have some great people on my side. First of all Chris Warren, a good friend of mine, owns the car. I work for Chris at C.B. Warren’s Auto Care in Oromocto. He told me he was thinking about getting a car and asked if I would drive it and I jumped at the chance. Chris is at the track every week helping out in the pits and he works on the car in the shop a lot too. My brother Matt is also a member of our crew.rookie-luc-mclaughlinLuc was the 2011 Fredericton Gun Shop Sharp Shooter Rookie of the Year. He won the title in 12, before moving up to Street Stock the next year. Luc has been really good in both divisions and has had a lot of support from family, friends and sponsors since day one. 

My Dad Gilbert loves racing and he puts as many hours a week into the car as I do. My Mom Francine brings food to the shop when we’re working on the car and she cooks us supper at the track. We don’t turn anybody away who wants to wrench on the car and we’ve got lots of people who help us out when they can. Other racers even lend a hand. I really appreciate everyone who works on the car.Luc McLaughlin street stock feature win May 21, 2017Luc is the guy who gets to drive this amazing race car, but he sure is quick to give credit to his crew, sponsors, family and friends who contribute to the success of the team. 

Wade: Sponsors play a key role too and you’ve got a few real good ones on board.

Luc: C.B. Warren’s Auto Care is our primary sponsor, but we’ve got a lot of other great ones including: Scotia Wealth Management and the Madore Family T.J., Jay and Michelle; Jack Carr from Keller Williams Capital Realty; Griffin’s Pub and CANEX; NAPA Auto Parts in Oromocto as well as Wilkin’s Signs.

Wade: Rob Raynes and Courtney O’Blenis dominated the DMR Auto Sales Street Stock division for the last two years, before moving up to Sportsman. Folks are telling me they would have liked to see you in this car race against those two.

Luc: They both were awesome the last couple of years and sure I would have loved to race against them. Our lap times compare with theirs and it would have been fun to see what we could have done against them. I think we have a car that could compete with them and if they want to come back I’d love to race against them.

Even though Courtney and Rob have moved up to the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman division, the competition is still pretty stiff in the Street Stock division this year. We’ve got some veterans and younger drivers who are all capable of winning a feature race on any given week. PIC_0060Courtney O’Blenis (#48) and Rob Raynes (#41) dominated Street Stock racing in 2015 & 16 at Speedway 660.  Luc feels his car this season would have been competitive with Courtney and Rob, but we’ll never know because those two fine drivers are now running in the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman division.

Wade: I know you are pretty happy where you are at right now, but do you ever think about moving up to Sportsman or Pro Stock?

Luc: I think most drivers, in the lower divisions, kinda dream about being in a Sportsman or Pro Stock one day. I certainly wouldn’t say no if the right opportunity came along, but I would want to be in a position where I could be competitive. Right now I’m really happy where I’m at and we’re focused on having a great season in the DMR Auto Sales Street Stock._DSC1241Luc has won the race to the stripe and checkered flag twice this season. He’s hoping to do it again on Saturday night and win his first-ever 75 lap Street Stock race.    

Wade: Good luck this Saturday night in the DMR Auto Sales Street Stock 75. I know it’ll be a heck of a race.

Luc: Thanks a lot Wade. We’re going to give it our best shot, but everybody in this race is going to do their best to get to the Riverview Ford Victory Lane on Saturday night. I want to thank the folks from DMR Auto Sales for sponsoring the Street Stock Division. That means a lot to all of the drivers.

The Speedway 660 fans are amazing and it’s a lot of fun racing in front of them and getting to meet many of them during the season. Hopefully our strong start to the 2017 season continues this weekend.  

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