Kip Laughlin should feel confident going into today's Don Beyer national championship road racing meet at Summit Point, W.Va. After all, the Leesburg driver has won five national point races this season, with the best six finishes counting in the final scoring, and the top point winners earning invitiations to October's title runoffs at Road Atlanta.

Still, he said, laughing, "I've qualified in the front row (two fastest qualifiers) in nine of 11 races, this year, but Summit Point, my home track, and Lime Rock (Conn.) are where I usually lay eggs."

A realtor, Laughlin began racing 10 years ago in Volkswagen-powered machines. He now drives a Formula Ford with as many as 30 rivals arrayed against him in this competitive class. The 97-cubic-inch English Ford engines produce speeds well over 100 miles per hour.

"This is only my seventh full season of racing. I had to drop out a few years for lack of bucks," he explained. "I came back when I felt I could put together a reasonably professional operation."

He credits his success this season to the mechanical skill of Ed Impink, also of Leesburg. Impink works fulltime on the English-built PRS car.

"I wouldn't get in it without Ed first checking it out," Laughin said. "We communicate very well so our testing program goes well, too." The team spent a full day at Summit Point preparing for this one race.

Action at the two-mile track begins today at 9:30 a.m., rain or shine. Six 46-mile races are scheduled over the eight-turn course.