(TOLEDO, Ohio – March 13, 2014) – The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is headed to Mobile, Ala. for its first short-track race of the 20-race 2014 season. Going from the 2.5-mile superspeedway of Daytona to the half-mile of Mobile International Speedway will mean the first race of the season for several of ARCA’s ‘young guns.’
Several drivers between the ages of 16 and 18 will be on the track for the first time this season when the green flag drops on the March 22 ARCA Mobile 200.
Anderson Bowen, now 16, is one of those. Driving for Cunningham Motorsports, Bowen finished third last year at Mobile in his ARCA Racing Series debut.
“Coming into Mobile at 16 doesn’t feel much different than it did at 15, but I feel like, as a driver, I have matured over the past year,” Bowen said. “Going into the race this year I am hoping just to improve in the race. Qualifying and finishing third last year gives me a lot of confidence for this year’s race.”
Kyle Benjamin is another teenager who made his debut at Mobile in 2013. He was 15 at the time and became the youngest driver in series history to make a start in the series. He led 26 laps before being overtaken by eventual winner Grant Enfinger on lap 173 and finished second in the race. Late in the season, Benjamin won two races and became the youngest winner in series history.
Next week, Benjamin is expected to be in a Roulo Brothers Racing Ford as he kicks off his Roush Fenway driver development program.
Another development driver, Cody Coughlin, will be behind the wheel of a Venturini Motorsports car. He tested at Mobile earlier this week.
Another teenager, Austin Wayne Self, tested in a Cunningham Motorsports car a week ago. He will pilot the No. 22 AM Technical Solutions Dodge.
“When we tested at Mobile, we were fast,” the 18-year-old Self said. “This is setting the tone for the rest of our season since Mobile will kick off our race for the championship. It’s not just about winning races anymore, it will be my first season to really race for points and be in contention to win a championship. Chad Bryant and the whole team at Cunningham have put in a lot towards our 2014 effort and I’m looking forward to starting the year at Mobile.”
Mobile will have a parade of youngsters.
Matt Tifft, 17, will be in the No. 52 Ken Schrader Racing Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet. Karl Weber, 17, will drive the Hixson Construction Chevrolet. Michael Lira, 16, will drive for Bill Kimmel Racing.
“We’re excited about the race and to get back behind the wheel,” Weber said. “I tested in Daytona in December, but otherwise I haven’t been racing since November. I’m hoping for a good finish and to make it a good start to the year.”
Tifft will be in the Ken Schrader Racing car for eight ARCA races in 2014. He’s raced in a late model car at Mobile before.
“That’s a fun place, a fast track,” he said. “I couldn’t run at Daytona so I’m excited. This is a really great opportunity for me to race for Ken Schrader. He knows so much about racing.”
Last year, ARCA visited eight short tracks with 10-time series champion Frank Kimmel winning twice, and veterans Schrader, Tom Hessert and Grant Enfinger taking one victory apiece. Benjamin won twice and Erik Jones, then 18, won once.
The teenagers aren’t just coming to the race – they hope to win.
“I have a dense racing schedule between ARCA and my home track – Central Texas Speedway,” Self said. “I will be getting a lot of seat time this year, and it is going to pay off. I want to run up front and I want to win and we are doing everything we can to make that happen. Mobile is a track that I feel comfortable on, and I can’t wait to get out there.”