From Daytona to Mobile: On the heels of the 50th Anniversary race at Daytona Int'l Speedway, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards will return to its short track roots for the second annual ARCA-Mobile 200 Saturday, March 9. Local Mobile born and bred favorite Cale Gale won last year's inaugural ARCA race at Mobile. (Photo by Ashley Rowe, the official photographer of the ARCA-Mobile 200)
Enfinger/Praytor hometown heroes: Although Cale Gale will not be back to defend his ARCA-Mobile 200 title, the hometown fans will have plenty to cheer about with Fairhope, Alabama's Grant Enfinger and Mobile's Thomas Praytor entered. Enfinger led 48 laps in last year's event before fading on the closing laps to 13th in the final running order. Enfinger (right) will have the aid of veteran driver and crew chief Kelly Kovski at Mobile. The two have a successful history together on the tour. Enfinger, with Kovski as crew chief, drove for Allgaier Motorsports fulltime in 2011 and finished a career-best fourth in national championship points. Enfinger has been so close to his career-first ARCA victory with second place finishes at Kentucky, Chicagoland, and just last year at Iowa. Enfinger has also finished third at Kansas three times, third at Toledo, Pocono, Berlin, Texas, Iowa, Chicagoland and Talladega. Thomas "The Moose" Praytor is the son of Mobile track promoter Tommy Praytor. Praytor was running in the top-five at Daytona last month before a late-race pit stop shuffled him back to 22nd in the final running order.
Kimmel looking for career win 77 at Mobile: Nine-time ARCA Racing Series driving champion Frank Kimmel is second on the all-time ARCA Series win list with 76 victories behind only Iggy Katona, who leads with 79. Kimmel opened the season with a fourth place finish at Daytona, his best start in eight seasons.
Tom Hessert to make 100th career start at Mobile: If milestones matter, then chalk one up for ARCA Racing Series veteran Tom Hessert, who is positioned to make his 100th career ARCA start in the next event on tour - the ARCA-Mobile 200. Hessert finished ninth last year at Mobile. Some of Hessert's career-best ARCA finishes have come on short tracks, including both of his series victories at Iowa Speedway in 2010, and at Salem Speedway at the tail-end of 2012. After driving for Ken Schrader Racing for two seasons, Hessert made the switch back to Cunningham Motorsports for the 2013 season. Hessert's crew chief at Mobile will be NASCAR/ARCA veteran Paul Andrews, who crew-chiefed the late Alan Kulwicki to the 1992 NASCAR Cup championship.
Cunningham enters rookie Anderson Bowen: In addition to Hessert, Cunningham Motorsports will introduce 15-year-old rookie Anderson Bowen at Mobile. Bowen, from Suwanee, Georgia, has already made a name for himself winning the Southern Pro Challenge Series championship in 2010. If Bowen were to win the race at Mobile, and if Kyle Benjamin (a younger 15) does not, Bowen would become the youngest winner in ARCA Racing Series history. Cunningham Motorsports has a very successful history in ARCA, fielding cars for ARCA winners Parker Kligerman and Alex Bowman in the past. Both Kligerman and Bowman have moved onto full seasons in the NASCAR Nationwide Series tour for 2013.
Venturini Motorsports times 4 at Mobile: Longtime series participants Venturini Motorsports has four cars entered for the ARCA Mobile 200, including its flagship No. 25 machine with Baltimore, Md. rookie Justin Boston (right) driving with title sponsorship from Zloop.
-Kyle Benjamin: 15-year-old Kyle Benjamin will occupy the No. 15 Venturini Motorsports Toyota at Mobile. The Easley, South Carolina prodigy won his fourth straight Super Late Model victory in the 47th annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway during Speedweeks 2103. Benjamin, the 2012 ARCA CRA Super Series Southern champion, is already the youngest winner in ARCA CRA Super Series history with his victory at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2012. Benjamin will have another ace in the hole for Mobile - veteran crew chief Kevin Reed, who just earned the biggest victory of his career as crew chief for John Wes Townley, the ARCA winner at Daytona.
-Milka Duno: Caracas, Venezuela's Milka Duno is entered in Venturini's No. 35 Toyota. She qualified second at Daytona, and led the first 11 laps before mechanical problems curtailed her effort, relegating her to a 28th place finish. Duno finished 18th at Mobile last year. "I love short tracks and the unique challenges they present," Duno said. "Short tracks really test a driver's skill and you have to work really hard to do well. I like to work hard and I like challenges - so I'm looking forward to the race at Mobile." Duno, in the off-season, switched from David Leiner Racing to Venturini Motorsports where she is slated to run the full 2013 ARCA season. Her career-best ARCA finish is 10th at New Jersey Motorsports Park in 2012.
-Taylor Ferns: Ferns (right), the young lady from Shelby Township, Michigan, is slated to make her ARCA debut at Mobile in the No. 55 Venturini Motorsports Toyota. Ferns, 17, tested with Venturini Motorsports at Daytona last December, and the led the charts in speed during one of the test sessions. Currently, Ferns is scheduled to compete in ARCA races at Mobile, Toledo, Elko, Iowa, the DuQuoin mile-dirt, Pocono and Kentucky. An open wheel graduate, Ferns won the 2011 National USAC Mopar D1 Regional Midget championship.
Benjamin youngest driver in history to compete in ARCA: Benjamin could become the youngest winner in ARCA history if he can win at Mobile. Currently, that honor belongs to James Buescher, who won at the now defunct USA Int'l Speedway just two days shy of his 17th birthday. Regardless of whether Benjamin wins at Mobile, he will still surpass Erik Jones as the youngest driver to ever compete in ARCA Racing Series competition when he competes at Mobile. Prior to this year's race at Mobile, Jones was the youngest to start an ARCA race when he competed at Mobile last year at 15 years old.
Hylton oldest driver in field, final appearance at Mobile: While 15-year-old Kyle Benjamin will officially go on record as the youngest driver to ever compete in ARCA Racing Series competition, it's worth noting that James Hylton (right) will be the oldest on record to compete. Hylton, the 1966 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year, is 78 years old, separating himself with Benjamin by 63 years. Hylton is entered in his own No. 48 Radon.com Ford. As reported in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Hylton announced his retirement from driving race cars. The 2013 season will mark his farewell tour behind the wheel of his famous No. 48. "I've been thinking about this for quite a while," Hylton said. "I'm 78, and the time has come." Hylton made 602 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts since 1964, winning twice at Talladega and Richmond. Since 1997, Hylton has made 144 ARCA starts, including the season-opening Daytona ARCA 200 where the Inman, South Carolina driver finished a respectable 26th.
Kimmel and Kimmel ready for Mobile: Will Kimmel, the nephew of nine-time champion Frank Kimmel, has again teamed up with his father/car owner/crew chief Bill Kimmel, Jr. for the ARCA-Mobile 200. Will's career-best ARCA finish is second at Salem in 2011. Prior to teaming up with his son, Bill Kimmel earned eight Cometic Crew Chief of the Year titles with his brother Frank. The Kimmel Racing team has also entered a second car at Mobile with rookie Korbin Forrister, of Cedartown, Ga.
Win Tron Racing's Mason Mingus one to watch: Rookie Mason Mingus (right) finished a solid seventh at Daytona in his superspeedway debut just last month. Mingus, a senior in high school from Brentwood, Tennessee, cut his ARCA teeth in 2012 for Win-Tron, participating on short tracks only. Despite the limited schedule, the 18-year-old teenager earned seven top-10 finishes including finishes of eighth at New Jersey Motorsports Park, eighth on the Springfield mile dirt, ninth at Elko, 10th at Salem, and 10th at Lucas Oil Raceway. Mingus finished 19th at Mobile last year. Mingus announced recently a full ARCA season with Win-Tron.
Bo Lemastus working with NASCAR veteran Geoff Bodine: Rookie Bo Lemastus is getting assistance for the ARCA Mobile 200 from NASCAR veteran driver Geoff Bodine, who will be serving in the capacity of coach and raceday spotter for Lemastus's No. 42 Crosley Radio Dodge for the entire 2013 season. Lemastus is CEO of Crosley Radio, which manufacturers vintage electronics under the Crosley brand. Lemastus recently purchased the complete inventory from Mark Gibson Racing for the 2013 ARCA Racing Series season. Lemastus's racing background includes 20 years in AMA motorcycle racing and five years of SCCA road course racing. Lemastus finished 16th on the lead lap in his ARCA debut last month at Daytona.
Championship Contender Gallagher on the March: With one full ARCA season under him, Spencer Gallagher (right) is yet another championship contender on tour for 2013. The Las Vegas, Nevada driver steadily improved his performance last year, ultimately finishing seventh in overall championship standings. His meticulously-prepared No. 23 Chevy Monte Carlo is headed up by veteran crew chief David Hirsch, and is sponsored by Allegiant Air. Gallagher has high hopes for Mobile considering most of his best finishes in 2012 came on short track with the-10 runs at Winchester, Iowa, Lucas Oil, the Springfield mile dirt and the rough and tumble Salem Speedway. His best superspeedway performance last year was at Michigan where he finished eighth.
Carter 2 Motorsports Two-Car Team for Mobile: Roger Carter, car owner for Carter 2 Motorsports, will be fielding two cars at Mobile, one for himself to drive - the No. 97 RoadrunnerTheMovie.com-KSS Productions Dodge, and a second entry for Carter's shop manager Nick Tucker to drive. Tucker will be aboard the No. 40 No Fear Drivers Challenge Dodge. Carter refers to Tucker as one of the best short track drivers around and has an excellent short track resume.
World's coolest trophy: Crosley Radio will present the ARCA-Mobile 200 champion a full-size 42 in. ARCA-Mobile-branded Crosley iJukeŽ Deluxe Jukebox (right). "We think this will become the coolest trophy in racing," said Bo Lemastus, CEO of Crosley Radio. "For almost 100 years the Crosley name has been synonymous with quality products priced for the average consumer. Racing is the perfect marketing venue for our brand that brings back fond memories with the latest technology." In addition to supplying Saturday's winner with a full scale Jukebox, Crosley Radio will reward the second and third place finishers of the ARCA-Mobile 200 and the winners of Friday nights Bombers and Sportsman races a 17 inch version table top version.
Volvo to pace the ARCA field: For the first time in history, a Volvo will pace the field at an ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards event when this 2013 Volvo S60 leads the field to green at the second annual ARCA-Mobile 200 at Mobile Int'l Speedway Saturday, March 9. The sleek new machine comes to the track compliments of Robinson Brothers Lincoln Volvo of Mobile.
Pre-race festivities big at Mobile, USS Alabama autograph session, hauler parade & more Thursday: The pre-race festivities for the second annual ARCA-Mobile 200 start Thursday afternoon at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park where the renowned park will welcome aboard ARCA fans, drivers, and teams. The event at the USS Alabama includes an ARCA driver autograph session from 5:00-6:00 p.m. before ARCA haulers will cast off from the Battleship in a hauler parade to Mobile International Speedway to prepare for Friday's on-track activity. The hauler parade will mark the beginning of the Causeway Seafood Jubilee as ARCA fans, teams, and drivers will enjoy the great seafood offered by restaurants on the Causeway. In addition, the rock band The Truth will perform Thursday night from 8:00 to closing time at the Home Mortgage of America Green Flag party at Grand Central on Dauphin Street in downtown Mobile. The Truth's, Ayesha Scott will perform the national anthem for Saturday's ARCA-Mobile 200.