FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — With the start of the 2022 ARCA Menards Series season right around the corner, Mullins Racing is preparing for the pilgrimage to Daytona International Speedway for the annual ARCA Menards Series pre-race practice this Friday and Saturday.
The practice serves as an opportunity for teams and drivers to prepare for the Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire on Feb. 19, the first race on the series schedule. It also gives many drivers the chance to turn their first laps at Daytona International Speedway, either to get approved to compete or to simply gain experience.
For Mullins Racing owner and driver Willie Mullins, the pre-race practice is the ideal time to make sure his race car is buttoned up and ready for when the green flag waves on Feb. 19 to open the ARCA Menards Series season.
“We go down there and we work on the car to make sure it is the best car we can show up with in February,” said Mullins, who has one top-five and four top-10 finishes in ARCA competition at Daytona International Speedway. “It’s always good to make sure you unload off the trailer and make sure you don’t have any leaks or anything like that. You’re trying to make sure you find speed and you don’t have any vibrations.
“When we come back we only get a 45 minute practice for the race, so this is our time to make sure this thing is right.”
Mullins Racing is bringing a full squadron of drivers to take part in the annual Daytona ARCA pre-race practice, with six drivers set to split seat time between two Mullins Racing entries. Those drivers in addition to Mullins are Blake Lothian, Brayton Laster, Bradley Perez, Cole Bruce and Logan Clark.
Nineteen-year-old Lothian comes to Mullins Racing for the Daytona ARCA pre-race practice with a long list of accomplishments. The native of Wellesley, Mass., impressed during his karting career and was selected as a member of the NASCAR Driver for Diversity Youth Team in 2019 and ’20. In 2021 he made his late model stock car debut, earning his first victory in the class at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway.
Laster heads to Daytona with experience on dirt and asphalt. The 19-year-old from Greenwood, Ind., began racing go karts when he was eight and hasn’t slowed down since. During his brief career he’s raced against some of the top stars from the World of Outlaws Late Model Series and Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. Last year he was ranked third in the Ultimate Heart of America Super Late Model Series standings.
Perez is well known in ARCA and NASCAR garages not only as a dedicated mechanic and tire specialist, but also as a racer. The 24-year-old native of Hollywood, Fla., has raced Spec Miatas and Legend cars and in 2021 made his ARCA Menards Series debut at New York’s Watkins Glen International.
Bruce is the son of Mullins Racing Car Chief Robert Bruce. The 17-year-old resident of Fredericksburg, Va., has been racing since the age of 8 and has captured multiple feature victories at Dominion Raceway in Thornburg, Va., including his first in a late model stock car last season.
Clark is another driver local to the Mullins Racing base in Fredericksburg, Va. The 17-year-old resident of Mechanicsville, Va., has raced regularly at Dominion Raceway the last two years, earning two wins in the limited late model class in 2020 before registering his first late model stock car victory last season.
“I wish people could have given me this kind of opportunity when I first got started,” said Mullins. “That’s why we’re putting a good car together to give these kids a good experience at Daytona. Hopefully one of them will sign back up with us to go racing in February.”
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