Solid Run Puts Mason Mingus; Win-Tron Racing Back On Track
A respectable 12th place finish in this past Saturday night’s Drivin’ For Linemen 200 at Gateway (Ill.) Motorsports Park (GMP) is exactly what Sunoco rookie of the year contender Mason Mingus and his Win-Tron Racing team needed.
After a stretch of three back-to-back frustrating finishes at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Dover (Del.) International Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway respectively, the driver of the No. 35 Call 811 Before You Dig Toyota Tundra hopes this is the sign of what’s ahead.
“We had a good run at Gateway,” said Mingus. “It was looking like we were going to have a top-10 finish, but we had a miscue on pit road and that hurt us. That’s OK though. This is a total team effort, we learn together, we make mistakes together and we run well together. We’ll focus on Kentucky next week and hope to put our No. 35 Call 811 Before You Dig Toyota Tundra back in the top-10.”
Despite his inexperience at the 1.25-mile track, Mingus delivered solid efforts throughout the two practices on Friday afternoon leading into the final session on Saturday morning, wrapped up by qualifying a couple hours before the drop of the green flag.
Qualifying inside the top-20 for the third time in 2014, Mingus used that solid starting spot to hover around there through the race’s first 50 circuits.
After two early race cautions, the event settled into a green-flag run, which would ignite green flag pit stops sending Mingus to pit, road under the direction of crew chief Mark Rette, on Lap 63 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Two laps later, however, the caution flag would waive after another competitor ran out of fuel.
Under the yellow, the team elected to take the “waive-around”, which allowed the team to regain the lap they lost on pit road, putting themselves back on the lead lap.
Restarting 16th, Mingus had worked himself into the 11th position over the next 60 laps, before leader Matt Crafton blew a tire and slammed the Turn 4 wall, yielding the fifth caution of the race.
Making his final pit stop of the night, the Win-Tron Racing team performed an almost flawless stop with four tires and fuel. The quick work of the team would advance their driver to ninth, but NASCAR would soon rip their gains from them, as they were slapped with an “uncontrolled tire” penalty, sending the No. 35 Call 811 Before You Dig Toyota Tundra to the tail end of the longest line.
With crucial ground lost, Mingus, the Brentwood, Tennessee native, made the best of the situation and methodically worked his way back through the field during some of the toughest racing of the night and picked up two positions over the final 27 laps to earn the team’s second best outing of 2014.
For the second time this season, Mingus also earned the Sunoco rookie of the race award.
“It was a good point’s day,” Mingus said. “Our No. 35 Call 811 Before You Dig Toyota Tundra was solid all race long. We had to make some adjustments to keep up with the track, but Mark (Rette, crew chief) and the guys did a great job all weekend long and hopefully the monkey is finally off our back. I could get used to more finishes like this.”
Nate Thiesse, co-truck owner of Win-Tron Racing also expressed his thoughts post-Gateway.
“We’re exceptionally pleased with the effort by Mason and the team at Gateway. It was a good night for everyone that supports our Win-Tron Racing team. Mason as a driver made some tremendous gains from start to finish and now we have a little bit of momentum that we’ll try to use to our advantage as we continue our summer stretch of racing. We’re looking forward to Kentucky.”
Exiting Gateway, Mingus sits 13th in the championship standings, 47 markers from 10th place held by Jeb Burton. Mingus unofficially sits second in the Sunoco rookie of the year standings, behind current leader Ben Kennedy.
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