TOLEDO, Ohio – official release – ARCA photo — It’s a relatively new operation, yet Mason Mitchell Motorsports is one of the hottest properties in ARCA town. The team’s driver, Mason Mitchell, is also becoming quite the commodity.
Mitchell, 19, currently operates on the strength of 19 consecutive top-10 finishes. And there’s more. The West Des Moines, Iowa driver, headed into the July 19 Ansell ActivArmr 150 at Chicagoland Speedway, has finished second in six of the last 12 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards events.
“It’s awesome for the points,” Mitchell said. “But to be honest, to be this close without a win is getting a little aggravating.”
Mitchell is now only 10 points away from point leader Grant Enfinger headed to Chicagoland.
“I remember the first time I finished second at Kentucky last year…battling for the lead…it was really cool. Now it’s getting aggravating. But as close as we are, it’ll come. There’ll be a time and place for that. There has to be; I’m running out of reasons why I haven’t won.”
Mitchell was less than a straightaway from Victory Lane last Sunday at Winchester Speedway when contact from rookie Brandon Jones sent Mitchell up the hill for a brush with the wall. Mitchell regrouped in time to finish second, while Jones cruised to the winner’s circle.
“It’s disappointing, obviously,” Mitchell said. “We led a bunch of laps. We knew who the winner should have been. I don’t have all the money in the world to fix my cars so I pass people clean. Overall, it was a great day. We beat everyone off pit road, so I have to thank my guys for that. We got a really fast racecar. We just got to keep our heads held high in these situations.”
Mitchell took a big gamble and formed his own team at the tail-end of 2013. He answered with immediate and brand new one-lap track qualifying records on the Springfield (Ill.) dirt mile and the Berlin Raceway short track, and finished the year with two runner-up finishes at Kentucky and Kansas.
The 2014 season has been just as effective with two more Menards Poles presented by Ansell and several more second place finishes.
“It probably was a little risky, forming our own team right during race season last year, but it’s paying off now. We’ve had to build all of our cars from the ground up, so it’s been a full-time effort on all fronts.
“I have really good people working for me. Matt (Weber/Mitchell’s Crew Chief) doesn’t have a lot of notoriety, but he’s really experienced and we’re good friends. He worked with Johnny Benson when Johnny won the (NASCAR Camping World) Truck championship. He went to engineering school; he’s really smart.”
Although Mitchell’s raced on intermediate track like Chicagoland, outside of a few laps he made in last year’s race, the mile-and-a-half speedway in Joliet, Illinois will be, for the most part, a new adventure.
“I did a ‘start and park’ there (at Chicagoland) last year. I didn’t get very many laps in, but I got to see and feel the track, so that’s helpful. It reminded me of Kentucky with a little more banking. It’s a little rough and the track moves you around a lot, which I like.”
Despite the newness of Mitchell’s team, he’s been hanging around the ARCA tour on and off for nearly a couple years now, so he’s familiar, at least, with the diversity of track types that the series visits. Arguably the most versatile schedule in the world, the ARCA Racing Series annually races on an interesting combination of paved short tracks, dirt tracks, superspeedways, intermediate tracks and road courses.
“I’ve got experience in the series for over a year now. Knowing the tracks, and what I need from the racecar at all those different tracks is a huge help.”
Mitchell’s seemingly quick rise toward success has actually been a long and winding road. Mitchell started racing in his single digit years in Mini Cup and quarter midget competition. From there, he progressed to ASA-sanctioned late model divisions close to home before branching out with ARCA’s national tour.
“After all these years and hard work, the fights, the arguments, the good and bad, everything that goes with this business, the success we’re having feels really good. It may seem like it happened overnight in ARCA, and, relatively speaking, it kind of has, but the reality is…is that it’s been the culmination of years of hard work and persistence.”
Mitchell must know that first win can’t be too far away.
“It’s going to be a really cool moment…I’m sure it’s going to be really emotional for me, personally. Once the first one comes, I have a feeling that the rest will come easier. But, at this point, I can’t really say what it feels like at this level because I’ve never been there.”
He’s never been there….yet.