SALISBURY, N.C. – In one of the most hotly-contested Open division features of the season so far, Max McLaughlin led all 20 laps to win Wednesday night’s Prelude to the QRC Open at Millbridge Speedway.
Matt Francis (Intermediate), Ryan Zima (Box Stock) and Jaxon Merrifield (Beginner Box Stock) also picked up victories in their respective classes during the sixth week of racing at the sixth-mile dirt oval.
McLaughlin held off Carson Kvapil through the initial start and early laps, then fended off his Phantom Racing Chassis teammate Nick Hoffman late to notch his second win of the season at Millbridge.
The Toyota Racing Development driver was all smiles after the race, carrying some much-needed momentum into next week’s sixth annual $5,151-to-win QRC Open presented by HMS Motorsport.
“That was badass,” said McLaughlin in victory lane. “That’s two of the best young racers in the country right there, in Nick Hoffman and Carson Kvapil, and to hold them off is pretty fun. You see how my teammate drove me, too … as clean as could be. That’s how racing should be. It stinks that he broke.
“I really believe Nick and I would have had a great battle; I’d race him all day in anything.”
The elder Kvapil’s hopes faded with nine laps left, when he tagged the cushion and lost the engine in his No. 35 CorvetteParts.net machine, while Hoffman’s quest for victory ended inside of five to go after the motor mount broke on his silver and blue No. 2h entry.
“It was shaping up to be a really good battle between those two boys before Nick’s issue,” noted PRC team owner Harold Wiggins. “I’m not sure which one would have won it, but they always race each other really hard. It was a show, for sure.”
“Man, when we break things we seem to break them pretty big,” added Hoffman. “It was a lot of fun racing Max, though. He’s one of the best out here and pushes us hard every time we hit the race track.”
McLaughlin pulled away in the final laps to beat Tom Hubert by 2.7 seconds. Brent Crews completed the podium, followed by Andrew Wehrli and Dillon Latour.
Francis snookered Caden Kvapil on the initial start of the 20-lap Intermediate division feature and never looked back en route to his first-career Wednesday night win in the division.
Francis got the jump on the green flag from the outside pole and pulled away, beating the younger Kvapil by five car lengths in the end as they raced in and out of slower traffic in a caution-free event.
“I just swung wide on the start, exactly like my dad (Kenny Francis) told me to, and it worked out perfectly,” said Francis. “This is special. I haven’t won a Wednesday race in two years, so it feels good.”
Behind runner-up Caden Kvapil, Sam Corry, Laci Ferno and Kennedy Elledge completed the top five.
Zima won a frenetic 20-lap Box Stock main for his second victory of the season, putting memories of his dead-heat photo finish in week three out of mind by passing Colt Currie with nine laps remaining.
Zima then beat Cassidy Keitt, Aiden Price, Landon Sartain and Landon Totherow to the finish line.
Merrifield topped a caution-laden 12-lap Beginner Box Stock A-Feature, passing Carson Allen on lap seven, while Katie Yonchuk went wire-to-wire to win the 12-lap Beginner Box Stock B-Feature.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.