February 14, 2014 — Audio and story by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — Photo courtesy Mason Mitchell Motorsports — WEST DES MOINES, IOWA — Sophomore driver Mason Mitchell is ready to elevate his game to the next level.
And he plans to do so by taking on the duties of team owner as well as driver for the 2014 ARCA Racing Series season.
Mitchell, 19, has launched his own team, Mason Mitchell Motorsports, (MMM) for this year’s ARCA campaign, after racing all but one event in last year’s season for three different teams (Roulo Brothers Racing, Kimmel Racing and Empire Racing) and finishing sixth in series points.
The young Hawkeye, who got his ARCA start in 2012 with veteran team owner Eddie Sharp and finished in the top ten in all four of his starts that season, is very optimistic about his newest career path for the upcoming year.
“It’s always been my personal goal to race for myself at a top level of motorsports,” Mitchell expressed to Race Chaser Online as he and the team were preparing for this weekend’s Daytona International Speedway season-opening event. “It brings me back to my roots, where I had success coming up through the ranks.”
Mitchell is coming off his first full season in the ARCA Racing Series (sans one race at New Jersey Motorsports Park) and has built a lot of positive momentum along the way. The young driver finished sixth in drivers points a year ago, and ended the season with nine straight top-10 finishes and back-to-back runner-up finishes at Kentucky and Kansas Speedway to cap off his 2013 campaign.
After switching to Empire Racing for the final nine races of the 2013 season, Mitchell scored two poles (at Berlin and Springfield; both with new track records) and earned the second-most driver points (1650) of any driver in the ARCA Racing Series, only coming in behind 2013 champion Frank Kimmel.
“We had an incredible run to end last season with Empire Racing,” Mitchell said of his second team last year. “Every time we went out, I knew we were going to have a chance to run up from the start. We came so close to Victory Lane a couple of times, and especially at Kentucky, we just couldn’t get that last little bit.”
“I was honored to drive for Empire Racing though. Everyone showed me so much respect during my time with them. I was surrounded by people who believed in me. It felt good to put them, as well as myself, on the map.”
Mitchell began his racing career at the age of five when he began riding dirt bikes and discovered his need for speed. Just three short years later, he was ready for two new challenges: pavement and cars. Mitchell moved into Minicup cars at age ten, and in only his second year of competition, won the Midwest Minicup championship. The following year, he followed up that effort with the Jamaica Raceway Track championship, and in total, scored over 75 wins during his Minicup tenure.
Mitchell ran several years in Late Model competition throughout the Midwest, including in Pro Late Models and the ASA Challenge Series National Tour, where he was the runner-up in rookie standings in 2009. But the lure of bigger competition called, and Mitchell jumped to the ARCA series in 2012.
The rest, as previously mentioned, is history.
In total, Mitchell has notched eight top five and 17 top ten finishes over the course of his 24 career starts in the ARCA series, but cites that 2014 will be his biggest challenge yet, despite his recent successes.
“It’s going to be a big year for us; I know it’s a lot to take on, the combination of team ownership and driving, but I feel like this group, myself, Brad Parrott (crew chief) and all the guys are up to the task.”
“The biggest thing is, I don’t want this to be a one year thing, here for me and then gone the next. My goal is to turn Mason Mitchell Motorsports into a premier driver development team.”
“It’s important to me to be a guy who helps those who deserve it.”
Following that same philosophy, Mitchell is active off-track as well, donating his time and status as an emerging young driver to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Mason regularly visits with Make-a-Wish children, invites them to his races, and also donates a portion of his race winnings to the charity.
The young Iowan has high hopes for the 2014 season, including the prospect of some select NASCAR Camping World Truck races and NASCAR Nationwide races.
“We’re working on some options next year in the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series for 2014 as well. We’ll see what happens, but I’m optimistic we might just surprise a few people.”
Mitchell now looks toward tomorrow’s Lucas Oil 200 as the first test for his organization in 2014. Led by veteran NASCAR Sprint Cup crew chief Brad Parrott, could that first win be in the cards on the high banks?
Mitchell and the team are confident that could very well be the case. He qualified sixth for tomorrow afternoon’s event today in Menards Pole Qualifying.
“Hey, at Daytona, anything’s possible,” Mitchell reminds us. “We’ll have a shot at it, I can tell you that much.”
The 51st running of the Lucas Oil 200 presented by MAVTV American Real takes the green flag tomorrow afternoon at 4 PM Eastern with live coverage on FOX Sports 1 and arcaracing.com!
Listen in to our complete interview with Mason as he talks 2014, his new ARCA operations, and his outlook on this weekend’s Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona International Speedway: