AUDIO/FEATURE: Snowball-bound Mingus looks to end successful 2013 with elusive victory

Jacob Seelman ARCA, Audio, Featured, MidSouth, Other Late Models, Southeast 0 Comments

December 6, 2013 — Audio and story by Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — Brentwood, TN — Simply put, a trip to Victory Lane is all that has been missing for Mason Mingus in 2013.

The young Tennessean, who has become a force to be reckoned with in a season and a half on the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards circuit, was able to notch two poles and a myriad of  top finishes over the course of the 2013 season, but was never able to cross that final threshold into the winner’s circle.

He hopes to change that this weekend.

Mingus, who will be returning to the division where he largely got his racing start, will compete in both the Pro Late Model (PLM) and Super Late Model (SLM) portions of this weekend’s 46th annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL. The 18-year-old talent returns to late model racing after select starts in 2013 and a four year run of success (2009-2012) prior his jump to the ARCA ranks, highlighted by the Ken-Ten Late Model Series championship in 2010.

“I’m excited; it’s always fun to hop back in the late model and go racing again during the winter,” Mingus expressed on Thursday before Snowball Derby practice. He was fastest in pre-weekend testing at Five Flags, and looks to become a first-time winner of one of late model racing’s biggest events.

When asked about the differences between his ARCA car and the late model, Mingus made no qualms about the fact that the two don’t drive the same.

“It’s always a little bit of an adjustment going back and forth between the bigger ARCA car and the late models, you know, but they do have a little bit of similarity in the way that they drive; it’s just that some of the nuances are different. I’m confident though; I’m not worried about getting re-acclimated, and I’m ready to end the year on a high note.”

And remarkably enough, you can’t find a much higher note to shoot for after the year that Mingus has enjoyed. Making the jump to full-time ARCA competition this season with Win-Tron racing after a partial 2012 campaign produced near-instant results, with Mingus notching Menard’s Pole Awards at Mobile and Iowa to go along with 5 top five and 18 top ten finishes on the season. His mark for top tens was second-best only to eventual series champion Frank Kimmel.

“We had a few of them get away this season for sure,” Mingus said on reflection of his 2013 season. “But we finished second to one of the greatest drivers in ARCA, ever, so I can’t feel too bad. We learned a lot this year and I’m hoping we can use some of those lessons going forward to 2014.”

For Mingus, the road has been jam-packed already. In addition to this weekend’s Derby and the 21 ARCA events he competed in this season, Mingus has also made a handful of SLM and PLM starts in 2013, with select races in the ARCA Midwest Tour, Sunoco Southern Super Series, the Winchester 400 and the All-American 400 among his season starts. Mingus’ late model highlight came at Winchester in the 400, where he finished 3rd in the annual fall classic that is a crown jewel of late model competition.

“We ran the late model and the ARCA car in the same weekend in June (at Winchester) and came back for the 400, and it was a great experience for us. Certainly was a big momentum builder for our team.”

Keep in mind that Mingus has done all of this over the past 16 months while finishing his senior year of high school, maintaining high marks in the classroom and competing on his high school wrestling team, which has been a Tennessee state championship team in recent years.

“I played three sports in high school, captained the wrestling team, and all the while still raced, because it’s what I love to do. It wasn’t easy, but I’m lucky I was in the right school with the right circumstances to be able to do it, and it taught me a lot of discipline and life lessons that I’ll be able to use as I go down the road.”

After graduating earlier this year, Mingus relocated to Mooresville, NC, to work in the race shop with his race team. The teenager now looks ahead to next season, where he hopes to add additional starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series after three starts that produced limited success this season at Talladega, Phoenix and Homestead.

“We’ve had the speed, we just had some bad breaks that killed us in the Truck starts. We had a mechanical failure at Talladega and got caught up in a crash on one of the green-whit-checkereds at Homestead, but we had the speed. Hopefully we can come back next year and turn it into results, whether we get a bigger opportunity in the Trucks or whether we run the ARCA car again.”

Despite all that, right now, Mingus’ focus is on one thing, and one thing only, as he looks to round out his 2013 campaign with 300 laps on Sunday afternoon in Pensacola.

“I just want to win.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Mason Mingus Racing

 

Listen in as our Jacob Seelman caught up with Mason via phone before practice on Thursday for the Snowball Derby:

 

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