Going into the ARCA Racing Series finale at Kansas Speedway, there is a field full of drivers who look to lay claim on the last race of the season. One of those is Mason Mitchell, who enters this weekend as the defending race winner.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “Last year, we had a good car and a good team and won the event, led a bunch of laps. It’s close to home, only three hours away, so lots of friends and family and sponsors that are supporting me are there. Looking forward to it. It’ll be my first time in a composite car at a mile and a half, but I don’t think that’ll be a challenge, so hope to end the season off on a high note.”
Throughout his career, Mitchell has always run well at Kansas Speedway, posting a top-seven finish in each of his four career starts. Last season, he led 39 laps en route to scoring the victory. Mitchell says he’s always enjoyed mile and a half tracks, and Kansas was one of the tracks he was quickly able to adapt to.
“With the progressive banking, I can move around a lot,” he said. “It’s not strictly one-groove related so you can branch around a little bit and allows yourself to not have the perfect car, but move around a lot and make other lines work.”
This weekend marks his third start of the season, following an eighth place finish at Iowa Speedway and a sixth place finish at DuQoin on the dirt.
“The two events I’ve raced – I’ve finished in the top-10, but I feel we haven’t had a fair shot as we’ve had freak mechanical issues both times in both events,” he said. “At Iowa, an alternator quit working and then the dirt race, we had engine issues after halfway. I feel confident we have our Is dotted, and Ts crossed, and we can have a fair shot at it and win it. I am confident entering this weekend.”
Even though he hasn’t raced much, he’s certainly one of the drivers to watch as a past champion, having picked up the crown in 2014 with a win, 12 top-fives and 18 top-10s in 20 races. Since then, he has run eight races with two wins and seven top-10s.
“That was a huge accomplishment not only for myself but for my whole team, family, and sponsors,” he said. “It’s something I will take with me forever. A lot of people can win races, but championships are hard to come by as you have to put the whole season together as ARCA doesn’t run a Chase format. The whole year matters; you can’t have one good race and then not the next race. You have to be consistent, and that’s what we did.”
While he hasn’t been behind the wheel much this year, he has been focused on the ownership side of his organization, running 11 drivers behind the wheel of his entries this season, scoring two wins (Gus Dean at Talladega; Justin Haley at Springfield), six top-fives and 13 top-10s in 23 races. Mitchell admits it can be tough at times to balance driving and the team.
“There’s a lot of stress involved in the ownership side in lining up the drivers and getting everything lined up logistically speaking to make things work for each weekend,” he said. “It’s a heck of a balancing act, but been able to work it out so far.”
He is looking forward to possibly getting back behind the wheel more in 2017, currently in the midst of working on a couple of different things right now.
“I’m working on a lot of stuff with my own team – different drivers, but trying to also focus on myself as well,” he said. “I’m at a point in my career where I’m going to keep moving up the ladder, so been going to meetings and trying to put myself in a position where I’m behind the wheel more moving up the ladder. It’s about finding a place I belong and can showcase my ability.”
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