TOLEDO, Ohio — official series release by Don Radebaugh, ARCA — ARCA photo —
From Daytona to the dirt, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards races in some really cool big-time places.
Yet for West Des Moines, Iowa’s Mason Mitchell, there’s no place like home.
“I grew up 30 minutes west of Iowa Speedway,” Mitchell said. “It’s my Daytona 500. It’s bigger than the championship to be honest. The championship is huge, but there’s nothing like winning in front of your hometown crowd. The reaction you get is unbelievable.”
Mitchell would understand the comparison as well or better than anyone. As the ARCA national champion driver and car owner in 2014, he capped his title ride off with a big win at Iowa in 2015. Mitchell led just two laps, and the one that counts the most.
“It was so incredible to win like that. I swear I could almost hear the crowd.”
Mitchell’s win came at the expense of some intense summer heat that took its toll on the winner.
“It was so hot…blazing…so humid. The heat index was in the high 90s that night. I didn’t hydrate myself the best. I drank all my water in the first 50 laps. We didn’t have a cool box that night and I no air flow to my helmet. I completely forgot to take the tape off for the air flow, and I paid the price. I was so exhausted after that race last year. I could hardly get out of the car.
“I was okay on the pace lap with all my adrenaline still flowing, but once I got to the Media Center, it started hitting me. I went to the infield car center to get rejuvenated. I didn’t take proper care of myself for that race. Going back, I can’t make that mistake again.”
Mitchell out-dueled Wentzville, Missouri’s Kyle Weatherman on the final lap to win what he considers the biggest race of his career.
“I can’t even put into words what that meant to me. That first one will always stand out to me, but it makes you want the second one that much more. After I won the race, I thought about all the things I could have done…the people I forgot to thank. I wanna climb the fence next time.”
Mitchell notes that the racing at Iowa Speedway is second to none.
“Now that the track’s got some years on it, and with the progressive banking, you can literally run just about anywhere on it. Sometimes you can go three or four wide. Every year, the groove widens out. We’re getting real close to the wall in three and four. It’s going to be interesting to see if it widens even more. Pretty soon, we’re going to be right next to the wall up there, which is fine by me.
“That’s what I did last year…all I did was run the top. I didn’t care about the bottom. We focused on the high-side and it worked for us.”
Mitchell is planning to bring at least a two-car team to Iowa for this year’s show, fielding a second car for newcomer Brady Boswell. Mitchell will have local Chevrolet dealer Karl Chevrolet back on board to sponsor his ARCA ride for the event.
“In 2015 we were able to align a sponsorship with Mason Mitchell as he made the jump to Chevrolet prior to the Iowa ARCA race,” Carl Moyer of Karl Chevrolet explained. “Him being a hometown kid, the pieces seemed to fit perfect. Mason not only won in Iowa, but again in Kansas with us on the car and we couldn’t have been more proud of his success and representation of Karl Chevrolet. We wish his whole team the best this year and beyond.”
Karl Chevrolet will also sponsor Mitchell in ARCA races this year at Chicagoland and Kansas. In addition to winning at Iowa and Kansas last year, Mitchell won at Chicagoland in 2014.
“Karl Chevrolet is going to be back on my car for Iowa, Chicagoland and Kansas. I can’t thank Karl Chevrolet for everything they have done. It was so cool. Carl came down to victory lane last year (at Iowa). He came down and gave me a kiss and hug. I’ve never seen him smile so much.”
Mitchell is the first driver from Iowa to win the ARCA Racing Series championship since Ron Hutcherson in 1974. In 50 career ARCA starts since 2012, he has three wins: Chicagoland Speedway in 2014, Iowa and the season finale at Kansas Speedway in 2015. He has 24 top-five finishes and 40 top-10s, and has led 793 laps total in 25 races. Mitchell also has seven career Menards Pole Awards to his credit.
CREDIT: ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards