Sunoco rookie of the year candidate Mason Mingus and his Win-Tron Racing team have fond memories of Iowa Speedway. This weekend, the young NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team looks to create some more in Friday night’s American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen.
Last fall, Mingus in his first full season of competition in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, scored his second pole of the year, and backed up the performance with a strong top-10 finish. His effort that night recorded one of Mingus’s 18 top-10 runs of the year in 21 races overall, en-route to a second place finish in the championship standings.
Fast forward some eight months later, Mingus has stepped up his game and is competing in his freshman season behind the wheel of the No. 35 Call 811 Before You Dig Toyota Tundra. Friday night, in the ninth race of the season, Mingus hopes to rekindle some of that Iowa magic and earn his second top-10 finish of the season.
“I think Iowa should be a good track for us,” offered Mingus, who has made two starts at Iowa Speedway in ARCA. “As a team, we have had some success there in the past. I sat on the pole there last year and really had a strong night. There is a lot that we are having to learn this year, especially at the intermediate tracks, but Mark (Rette, crew chief) and the guys at Win-Tron Racing have a pretty good idea of what I like at a short track, especially one like Iowa. We are going there this weekend aiming for a top-10 finish and I feel like we should be able to accomplish that.”
Of course, the competition is elevated immensely comparing ARCA to trucks, but the Brentwood, Tennessee native knows that if his Mooresville, North Carolina-based team can dial in his No. 35 Call 811 Before You Dig Toyota Tundra during practice on Friday, it could be the advantage the team needs towards accomplishing their goal.
“It’s important to get the truck handling comfortable by the end of practice,” added Mingus, a former High School wresting champion. “By race time, we need to make sure we’re focused on taking advantage of every opportunity possible, whether that be on the track or pit road. The summer stretch is about in full gear, so we need to be able to capitalize on it.”
Practicing well is important, but qualifying, especially, knockout style may never be so important for Mingus and his freshman team.
“Knockout qualifying has helped us on a number of occasions this season,” Mingus sounded. “We’ve been able to make adjustments to our truck and if we’ve made it into the second round, we’ve been able to put a better No. 35 Call 811 Before You Dig Toyota Tundra on the track. There’s only two sessions, so we have to hit our marks and maybe, we’ll have a shot at back-to-back poles.”
To help aid them towards their second top-10 finish of the year, the team has elected to bring the same truck that guided 19-year old Mingus to his career-best finish of 10th at Kansas Speedway in May.
“This has been a good truck for us,” Mingus explained. “We ran it at Kansas and were good. We took it to Charlotte and were running very competitive with it, just outside the top-10, when we happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. But, it’s fixed now and we’re ready to do some damage of our own, in a good way of course and have a good night on Friday.”
Nate Thiesse, co-truck owner of Win-Tron Racing offered his insights on this weekend’s activities.
“I think we should do well on Friday night at Iowa Speedway,” he said. “Over the years, it has proven to be a good track for us and Mason did really well in his second outing there last year. We’ve been consistently strong lately, even if we haven’t been able to bring in the finishes we think we deserve. Iowa Speedway is a good opportunity for us. I hope we can take advantage of it.”
Mingus’s No. 35 Call 811 Before You Dig Toyota Tundra is chassis No. 216. This particular vehicle will make its third appearance in 2014 at Kentucky. Mingus drove it at Kansas Speedway and most recently at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway on May 16.
Entering Iowa, Mingus sits 13th in the championship standings, 53 markers from 10th place held by Joey Coulter. Mingus unofficially sits second in the Sunoco rookie of the year standings, behind current leader Ben Kennedy.