By Brian Eberly, Contributing Writer
Mason Mitchell will return behind the wheel for this Saturday’s ARCA Racing Series event at Iowa Speedway, Motorsports Tribune has confirmed. Mitchell, the 2014 ARCA Racing Series champion, will pilot the No. 98 Chevrolet in a second entry for his own team.
Iowa is the home track for the West Des Moines, Iowa native and he is making his first start since this race last season.
“Racing here is more important to me than racing anywhere,” Mitchell said. “It’s my home and will always be my favorite track.”
His 2015 victory at the 7/8-mile track dubbed “The Fastest Short Track on the Planet” came in dramatic fashion. Two late race cautions caused the race to extend beyond its scheduled 150-lap distance and Mitchell passed Kyle Weatherman on the final lap for the victory.
“It means so much to me to win here,” Mitchell said in Iowa Speedway victory lane in 2015. “I can’t evenput it into words. This is my Daytona 500. This is bigger than the championship. This is huge.”
It didn’t look like Mitchell had the car to win in the 2015 Iowa race, but running a limited schedule the year after his championship season led to extra motivation to go out and get the win.
“That day taught everything I know about perseverance,” Mitchell said when reflecting on the last time he’s been to victory lane. ” We weren’t capable of winning early but we never gave up and overcame a lot.”
Mitchell tested with the team at Iowa Speedway in late June after the race weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park. Despite having 54 career ARCA starts, just four of those have come in the newer composite body car now used in competition.
“Even though Iowa is considered a short track, aerodynamics play a huge role. You can drive these cars a lot harder than the steel body cars. I put extra emphasis on what we needed to win (at the test), I know what we’ve lacked there before and all I want to do is win.”
The 24-year-old driver has run just 10 races in ARCA competition since winning the title in 2014, but has created one of the top driver development teams in the series, as several drivers have made a start or two with the team on their way up the ladder to the NASCAR national series. Justin Haley, who just won his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Gateway, has two wins in an MMM machine.
Grant Enfinger, Noah Gragson, Kaz Grala, Myatt Snider and Kyle Weatherman have all made at least one ARCA start with MMM and are now competing in one of the top-three NASCAR series.
Mitchell will look to stop the Toyota domination, as the manufacturer has won all 11 ARCA races this season between powerhouse teams Venturini Motorsports and MDM Motorsports. Saturday’s Fans With Benefits 150 is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. CDT.