By Brian Eberly, Contributing Writer
One of the feel good stories of the chaotic and carnage-filled ending to the season-opening ARCA Racing Series event at Daytona International Speedway was the second-place finish of Willie Mullins. The 37-year-old driver out of Fredericksburg, Va. avoided multiple late-race accidents to cross the stripe in the second positon for his own Mullins Racing team.
It was just the 12th ARCA start for Mullins, with the majority of those coming at New Jersey Motorsports Park, before debuting at Daytona in 2016.
“It’s a win for us,” Mullins told Motorsports Tribune at the time. “Everybody was elated. Everyone was cheering and shouting because we knew that second-place was a win for a small team like us at Daytona.
“I mean, it’s ‘The World Center of Speed’. We got to be out front, and that’s all we could ask for in life.”
The finish and ensuing excitement led most people to believe the team would be able to return at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend with their No. 3 Crow Wing Recycling/CW Metals Ford. Unfortunately for Mullins and team, duty calls, and that duty is the family business.
Mullins’ full-time job is owning and operating Bugsy’s Auto Repair, named after his father, in his hometown. The business, along with a couple of key sponsors in Crow Wing Recycling and CW Metals, generates enough revenue to allow Mullins to go racing.
“It is heartbreaking after that second-place finish at Daytona that we’re not able to go to Talladega and back it up,” Mullins said. “I really wanted to be there, but with the business taking on a new shape we’re having to focus on that and work towards the future so that in many years to come we can hopefully keep racing.
“I’ve always been taught that if you take care of the business then the business will take care of you. That’s our main focus. Right now we have a very large account with County Waste here in Fredericksburg and we’re trying to make sure we keep them happy. County Waste is a very large partner of us and we’re looking to grow with them as they are growing too.”
While the team won’t have the opportunity to back up the feel-good story from Daytona in Friday’s General Tire 200 at Talladega, they are hard at work for their next opportunity to put a car on the track. Mullins Racing will field two cars in the July ARCA race at Elko Speedway in Minnesota.
“It’ll be a bit of a home field advantage with my wife Dinah’s family being based up there,” Mullins said of Elko Speedway. “We’re excited to be there and we’re already working towards that. We’ve been testing at Dominion Raceway here in Virginia with our Elko car to try and get ahead of the curve.
“It’s not like we’re sitting idly by. We’ve run some SCCA club races; we’re constantly working to move forward in every aspect with our race team.”
What’s the goal for a team that builds their cars out of a little garage in Virginia?
“I’d love to see our team leave Elko with a top-10 finish,” Mullins said. “If we can do that then I’ll be a happy camper.”