Last weekend at the Mile-High Nationals in Denver, it was a disaster for Pro Stock driver Alex Laughlin.
Laughlin qualified No. 14 and lost in the first round to Matt Hartford.
Well, a change of scenery – more specifically the Sonoma (Calif.) Nationals – and things are looking up for Laughlin.
Laughlin, who pilots an Elite Motorsports Camaro, clocked a 6.520-second elapsed time at 210.80 mph Friday and that lap won him the No. 1 qualifying spot after four sessions of qualifying were complete.
“Like I said (Friday night), this is just a huge confidence booster for not only myself, but the whole team, especially coming back from Denver where we had our worst race so far this season,” Laughlin said. “We qualified 14th in Denver and we showed up here (in Sonoma) and took the pole. Based on how we qualified here, I believe that I took the No. 2 spot back in points. Greg (Anderson) kicked me out leaving Denver and he was the only person who could do it. He had to win the race to do it and he did, but we accumulated enough qualifying points here (six) that be back at No. 2.
As long as I’m in the top even five going into the Countdown, I have a great shot. With that being said, I’ve never even made the Countdown before. Making the Top 10 is going to be huge in general, but it is crazy, not only are we going to make the Top 10, but we also have a shot at the championship.”
This was Laughlin’s second No. 1 qualifying spot in his career and first this season. He will face off against Val Smeland in round one.
“All in all, the car is running great and I’m driving good and we really have a good shot at winning the whole thing (Sunday),” Laughlin said. “I have never had success in Sonoma. So, (to be the No. 1 qualifier) is unbelievable. It’s a huge deal. It is a testament to the horsepower and the group of guys we work with and we have as a team. The No. 1 qualifier is great, but what means the most is the that this green hat turns to yellow (Sunday).”
Laughlin has two runner-up finishes this season at Gainesville, Fla., and Norwalk, Ohio, and he would like to get over that hump Sunday.
“It’s going to take a little bit of luck,” Laughlin said. “There’s no doubt that with this drag racing stuff, there’s a lot of skill and a lot of technology involved, but there’s also a lot of luck. Like last weekend for example, we had a ton of luck, it was just bad luck. This weekend, we have had good luck, so hopefully that train moving that way.
Because we were qualified so well and it was going to be hot (Saturday) and not a whole lot of room for improvement, if any, we were experimenting with different things. Things that theoretically should have worked and Q3 it did work, but the change we made was too aggressive, but we learned something huge for (Sunday) that will not only apply to my car from now on, but across to all of the Elite cars from here on out.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019