Inside the Hauler|ARCA Series Points Leader Mason Mitchell
Mason Mitchell, is the young man who currently sits on top of a closely contested points battle in the ARCA Series powered by Menards. The ARCA series is a professional stock car association who pretty much run an older style car, little bit shorter races and even some tracks the NASCAR circuit does not travel to. However, even though the two series are not affiliated they do drive at some of the same tracks throughout their respective seasons, and is even considered to be a valid farm system to the Cup series much like the Camping World Truck series and the NATIONWIDE series is.
I had the honor to speak with Mr. Mitchell after what was ended up being an incredible finish to the Federated Car Care ARCA Fall Classic presented by JayC Food Stores at Salem Speedway. Mitchell would finish the race in the second position behind Hessert crossing the finish like rolling backwards. Click the link here to watch the closing laps in that race.
The Weekly Racer: Again thank you so much for taking some time away from your schedule to take this interview. So just above us I have posted a link to the final laps from the Salem race that saw you come across the stripe backwards, tell us a little bit about that.
Mason Mitchell: Yea it was definitely an excitement filled race there at the end. We had a really good car, a dominating car. We lead I think 127 laps, at one point we had the whole field a lap or two down. If it was going to go green we were going to be sitting really pretty. But it all worked out, ended up second in a good battle, gained some more points going into Kentucky.
TWR: Currently holding onto a fifty point lead over Grant Enfinger going into the second to last race of the season out in Kentucky, can you tell us what the game plan is there?
MM: We are just going to try to have another good weekend and hopefully we can gain some more points. Hopefully battle there for the win, I feel really confident in our intermediate program this year and that’s what the final two races are, I really enjoy Kentucky and Kansas. They both have their different challenged but I am looking forward to it, and looking to compete for victory lane.
TWR: So I did some research before our chat on your website (Mason Mitchell Motorsports) and learned that you started racing dirt bikes. What made you want to make the switch from two wheels to four?
MM: I think the big thing I was a fan, Jeff Gordon was always my idol, and I was always a huge NASCAR fan and wanted to go into car racing. We made the switch when I was nine or ten years old and started racing mini cups, then went to late models, messed around with some ARCA stuff and now here I am today so its been a really cool journey and blessed to have all the opportunities.
TWR: Alright! Now thats what I like to hear, Jeff Gordon was your idol growing up huh?
MM: Yea and he definitely still his.
TWR: Good stuff man, always nice to find another Gordon fan, specially from someone who is a racer themselves. 2013 you were not an owner/driver, you were actually running for someone else. Tell us a little bit about that.
MM: Well I started ARCA in 2012 and ran four races and some really good success, never finishes outside the top ten with two top fives. 2013 I raced at the beginning of the year with the Roulo Brothers, wasn’t working out just no good results. Made the switch halfway there during the season to Empire Racing, a team that gave me all the resources and anything I really needed. They really wanted to prove they could compete for wins and I knew I could be competitive too. We both worked really hard together and we had some good success, won a lot of poles track records, running up front the final two races of the year which was the best they have had. Then I made the decision to transition to my own team in 2014 looking to compete for wins and a championship and just do the best we can.
TWR: If you had to pick what would you say has been the most difficult race for you and your team so far this year?
MM: Umm, probably either Elko or Berlin this year, we just struggled a little bit through the whole race. We didn’t really go there with a good game plan so that’s what really put us behind. We got the pole at Berlin which was a good deal just struggled during the race which isn’t really our fashion. We want to be up there leading laps and competing for the win like a few nights ago at Salem. Most of those results were 10th place and I know a lot of people will take that but those are unacceptable in my position.
TWR: 2012 you got your start in ARCA, 2013 you drove for two different teams and had some success, now 2014 here you are you own your own team, currently leading the points with only two races left. Where do you see Mason Mitchell in the next few years?
MM: Hopefully the success keeps on going and I get opportunities to continue my career. Obviously my goal is to be a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver but you gotta take time and put your self in the right position.
TWR: Absolutely, you just have to keep getting seat time and show that one person that you can do it!
MM: Yea, hopefully I can continue down the path, or up the adder to the Camping World Truck series and now the NASCAR Xfinity Series, so we will see where time takes me.
TWR: Here is a question a little bit outside the normal interview questions, but when you guys are on a long green flag run what kinds of thoughts are going through your head?
MM: Just patience and keep on saving your stuff. Don’t let anyone else run your race, you know what your car is going to do and know how its handling, don’t let anyone else force you to drive faster or anything like that and just keep doing what you’re doing till you have time to make an adjustment.
TWR: Right on, so completely shifting into a new gear and taking things away from the race track, what kinds of things do you like to do away from the race shop?
MM: You know that’s a really hard questions because I don’t really go a lot of other places other than the race track or my shop. I enjoy any activity that can keep me active. Hitting the gym or going to a concert or something, I’m a huge wrestling fan but that’s about it.
TWR: Who’s your favorite band?
MM: I don’t have a favorite band but I do have a favorite artist and that’s Bruno Mars.
TWR: Lets really think out of the box on this one. The ARCA officials have come to you and want your opinion on what track to add to the series next year, which track would you pick?
MM: I would want to put Iowa Speedway back on the schedule because its my hometown. Plus I really feel like it puts on a great show for the fans. All the multiple grooves and all the racing action at high speeds but it’s also a short track.
TWR: We are going to send you out of the race shop for one day to do anything in the world besides racing. What would you do?
MM: [Pauses to think] You said I could go back in time?
TWR: Yea you can go back in time, transport directly where you need to go, anything you needed.
MM: I have really been interested in going back to the early 1900’s or anytime way back and see what the life style was back then and how everything worked. I just feel the way technology has grown everyone is less relaxed and on edge now a days. I would like to see how everything worked back in the old days.
TWR: What other major sports do you pay attention to?
MM: I follow a little bit of football, I like the Philadelphia Eagles but that’s about it. I know what the current topics are on pretty much any sport, I have a lot of family back home involved in sports so I am always kept up to date.
TWR: So as we come to the end of this interview I try to ask all the drivers in the higher level series what kind of advice can you offer to the guys and girls working to get to where you are?
MM: Well just keep your self out of trouble, keep on trying as hard as you can. Keep educating yourself on the race track and even off the race track in creating sponsorships. You obviously have to have the talent behind the wheel but you need to know the business side of things because if you want to make it to the next level you got to have the proper partnerships surrounding you.
Mason Mitchell Motorsports rolls into Kentucky Speedway this weekend for second to last race on the season. Earlier in the week Mitchell was fourth fastest on the speed charts. The Green flag is set to fly on the ZLOOP 150 tonight, September 19th at 8:00 PM.
All photos used in this interview credit to Mason Mitchell Motorsports