The Natural: Max McLaughlin Wins John Blewett III Memorial North-South Shootout

Max McLaughlin (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

Maybe it’s just in the genes, but apparently Max McLaughlin is a fast learner when it comes to racing Modifieds. 

In his third career start in a Modified – his second in a Tour Type Modified – Max McLaughlin won the 150-lap Tour Type Modified John Blewett III Memorial North-South Shootout Saturday at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, N.C. 

McLaughlin, the son of former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Mike McLaughlin, was driving for team owner Gary Putnam. 

Max McLaughlin, of Mooresville, N.C., is a regular on the NASCAR ARCA Menards Series and ARCA Menards East Series driving for Hattori Racing. 

He ran an SK Modified on June 19, 2019 at Thompson Speedway for Keith Rocco Racing. Before that day he had never turned a lap at Thompson Speedway or sat in an asphalt Modified. He ended up finishing second in the SK Modified feature that night at Thompson after a late race battle for the lead with NASCAR Cup Series regular Ryan Preece.

On Sept. 26 Max McLaughlin made his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start, driving for Putnam in the NAPA Auto Parts 150. Like Thompson, Max McLaughlin had never turned a lap at Stafford before the day of the event. He ended up finishing fourth behind a trio of former Whelen Modified Tour champions. Ron Silk won the event, Doug Coby was second and Justin Bonsignore third. 

Saturday at Caraway Speedway Patrick Emerling was second in the 18th running of the North-South Shootout, which was dedicated to the memory of event founder Charles Kepley. Austin Kochenash of Danielsville, Pa. was third. 

Unofficial Finish John Blewett III Memorial North-South Shootout


  1. A chip off the old block , this kid is a racer , dirt ,asphalt it doesn’t matter he deserves to move up , hopefully he gets the chance

  2. Austin Kochenash is a guy I keep on my radar. He showed up at the July 2019 Stafford open and struggled. Comes back in 2020 for the Twisted Tea open and takes 9th. 10th in a TTOMS race at Monadnock this year and an 8th at Star. Now he gets a podium in this robust field of cars.
    Sure Max McLaughlin is the infrequent star that shines brightly then is gone.. Little noticed guys like Austin Kochenash is the kind of racer that makes these modified shows go and grow.

  3. 9th,10th,8th is nice but by my math a total of 3 modified races run,2nd ,4th and 1st I think is a little better and throw in a few top finishes on dirt , I’ll keep Max on my radar , but now that you’ve mentioned Austin I’ll make a point of keeping an eye on him

  4. Doug there is a nice article in this months speedway illustrated on Austin. That’s a home built mod with a lot of his own ideas.

  5. Austin K. brought out 2 or 3 yellows with spins before attrition allowed him to move up to third at the end. So, his race may not have been as strong as the final results suggest.

  6. 🌈🦄2020 says

    Watched some clips of the race. The blind spots from the stands are ridiculous. Who designed that place?

  7. Blind spots from the stands?
    I’ve been a couple of times, I sat in the huge aluminum grandstands in turns 4/3 and the view was awesome.
    That’s where 90% of the crowd sits.
    It’s closer to the entrance of the track and is much higher up, definitely a better view.
    Maybe the front stretch stands have some blind spots? Not an issue as a fan attending a race at Caraway

  8. 🌈🦄2020 says

    The video clip must have been from a bad spot on the front stretch.

  9. solsticeson says

    Go Mad Max, just hopin his family has the money or connections to keep him moving up,hes still young, time will tell,,,,,,,,,,,kid was born Feb 29th so only has a bday every 4 yrs,,

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