WISCASSET — Andrew McLaughlin tows his race car nearly three hours each way to compete in Wiscasset Speedway’s weekly Late Model division. On Sunday afternoon, the driver from Washington County drove like he was in a hurry to get back home.

McLaughlin, of Harrington, led more than 180 laps from the pole en route to winning the Coastal 200 for the first time in his career after back-to-back podium finishes in the event. He took the lead for the final time with 48 laps remaining and was pulling away from the rest of the field all the way to the checkered flag — leaving runner-up Ben Ashline nearly three and a half seconds behind.

“I’ve won a bunch of Saturday night features and I’ve come really close in a lot of big races,” McLaughlin said. “It’s been a goal of mine to win this race. This is the highlight of my racing career, right here. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Ashline, of Fairfield, making his first Late Model start since 2014, rallied from a late spin to finish second. Wiscasset’s Nick Hinkley finished third, while Joey Doyon of Winterport finished fourth for the second consecutive year and Mike Hopkins of Hermon rounded out the top five. McLaughlin earned $5,100 for the win, including lap-leader bonuses and another bonus for leading at the halfway mark.

It was as thorough a performance as you could find, including his pass of Hinkley on lap 153, when he went to the outside and motored off to the lead just 19 laps after pitting with the leaders on lap 133 for fresh right side tires.

“I knew in the long run that I was going to have a really good car,” McLaughlin said. “I could tell with like 50 laps to go, after I put the new tires on, that they were in trouble.”


For most casual observers, it was clear that the field was in trouble long before the final pit stops of the race. McLaughlin led all but one of the first 133 circuits and — once a rash of early caution flags wiped out a bunch of potential challengers — had lapped all but eight cars by lap 100.

As early contenders like defending Coastal 200 winner Chris Thorne, Jeff Burgess and Shane Clark — who three times charged from the rear of the field into the top five in the first quarter of the race — all succumbed to various mechanical ailments, Hinkley offered the most promising challenge to McLaughlin. Hinkley got to the lead on lap 139, but McLaughlin beat the local favorite at his own game, turning the tables and making the pass for the lead on the outside, a move typically favored by Hinkley himself.

All Hinkley could do at that point was tip his cap to McLaughlin.

“Honestly, all you can do is just ride and make sure you’re in a good situation if something were to happen,” Hinkley said. “When you have somebody like that that’s dominating, all you can do is put yourself in a great spot in case something were to happen to his car.”

Ashline found himself in the lead just five laps before Hinkley grabbed it from him, having until that point run a patient race as he waited for his pit stop. Pitting out of second position, Ashline won the race off pit road but spun out while leading when exiting turn four on lap 138.

“I was trying,” Ashline said. “Everything played out really good. I was just riding and conserving and running my own race, and my crew nailed the pit stop. I realized something went wrong, but it was too late. Usually, I have a good feel for things that way — but the left rear tire was flat. That’s not good.”


Still, for a driver who was back on track after a several-year absence, it was a successful day for Ashline.

“I can be nothing but happy about the run,” Ashline said. “It’s just that the competitor in me wants more.”

Only McLaughlin, whose final margin of victory was 3.335 seconds, was left with little else to want. All those long, late-night drives to and from the speedway over the past few seasons have been more than worth it.

His quickest trip of the day was the drive into victory lane.

“When traffic’s good, I can do it in two hours and 40 minutes — but that’s at midnight on the way home,” McLaughlin said said of his unusally long roundtrip for races at Wiscasset. “There’s so much energy here, it’s crazy. For me to be able to come race here weekly, there’s nothing I would rather do. The competition here, the respect in the pit area, the people I’m racing with — as a racer, you can’t ask for anything more.”

Reigning track champion Zach Audet of Skowhegan led every lap en route to his second 25-lap Outlaw Mini Stock feature win of the season earlier in the day. Audet, who also won his heat race to begin the afternoon, held off Tim Collins of Farmingdale and Brent Roy of Vassalboro for the victory.


Jonathan Emerson of Durham won the 25-lap Strictly Street feature over Kurt Hewins of Leeds, and Mark Lucas of Harpswell claimed the checkered flag in the 30-lap Modified event.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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