Connor Mosack Ready for ‘Saturday in the Park’: 25-Year-Old Racer To Make First NASCAR Xfinity Series Start of 2024 in The Loop 110 on Streets of Downtown Chicago

Ever since last year’s inaugural NASCAR race weekend on the streets of downtown Chicago, Connor Mosack has been itching to get back to the temporary 2.2-mile, 12-turn street circuit that surrounds Grant Park.

Despite being a rookie in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Mosack came into last year’s race as the rare driver with previous street-course experience. In the TA2 division of the Trans Am Series, Mosack made two street-course starts in the Music City Grand Prix in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native started second and led nine laps before finishing third in the inaugural event in 2021. In his return to Nashville in 2022, Mosack qualified fourth and grabbed the lead on the opening lap. He proceeded to lead the 39-car field for 26 laps before finishing second.

That background, along with Mosack’s overall road-racing history in Trans Am, allowed him to find speed immediately in Chicago. In just his 12th Xfinity Series start, Mosack qualified a career-best fourth. He ran among the top-five for the first 20 laps until a carburetor issue derailed his strong run. When the caution came out for a nearby lightning strike on lap 25, Mosack ducked into the pits for his crew to lift the hood and diagnose the problem. He returned to the track in 35th, but shortly thereafter, the race was postponed for rain. But with a plan to replace the carburetor and seemingly plenty of laps still remaining, Mosack eyed the opportunity to work his way back toward the front when racing resumed. It never happened. Persistent rain forced NASCAR to call the race official after 25 laps, denying Mosack a chance to return to the front.

“Despite the outcome, I thought the Chicago Street Race was an awesome event,” Mosack said. “I’m definitely excited to get back and finish what I started there. The track was a lot of fun to drive with a lot of high-risk, high-reward corners. I think it’ll be just as big, if not bigger, of an event than last year.”

The race is definitely big for Mosack. Even with being a two-time winner in Trans Am and a two-time winner in the ARCA Menards Series, the 25-year-old is still trying to secure a fulltime ride in NASCAR.

While running the entire, 12-race Trans Am schedule, Mosack has only been able to run four ARCA races and four NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races in 2024. The Loop 110 marks his first Xfinity Series race of the season after making 24 starts in the stepping-stone division to the elite NASCAR Cup Series last year. Nonetheless, Mosack eyes the positives gained from jumping into different racecars in different series.

“I think being able to adapt to a different car and a different track is definitely important,” Mosack said. “Even when you run the same series consistently and see the same racetracks, grip levels are constantly changing. Being able to adapt every lap to the grip the car has at that moment is definitely important for making speed in the race.

“And there are certain things from each car and each series, the guys you race against, that you’re able to learn from. Even though they may not apply directly to a different series, there are a lot of things you can take away from it. There’s a lot of benefit there, and seat time is obviously important.

“Of course, there are some things that you miss not being fulltime in a particular series, just from guys constantly getting better each and every week in that car and learning what they need to build on, and having that chemistry with the crew chief and all the guys on your team. You kind of miss a little bit of that, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have speed each and every weekend you show up.”

Mosack is aided on this front by the team that he is with at Chicago – JR Motorsports, the powerhouse Xfinity Series team owned by NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Jr., that has collected 84 Xfinity Series victories and three championships.

“JR Motorsports does a really good job. They’re particular with the details, and this is a detail-oriented sport,” said Mosack, who first drove for JR Motorsports in 2020 when he wheeled a Late Model to the CARS Tour rookie-of-the-year title.

“My crew chief, Andrew Overstreet, is really sharp. I’ve been able to work with him in the simulator and at the shop, getting fitted in the car and ensuring we’re where we need to be before we even unload at Chicago. So, I’m definitely looking forward to it. It’s a great opportunity to have a great run.”

Mosack comes into Chicago with some fresh road-course experience. The Trans Am Series has raced the past two weekends at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington and Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, with Mosack finishing fifth and fourth, respectively, in 30-car fields. Mosack also ran the ARCA race June 21 at Mid-Ohio, winning the pole and leading 13 laps before a restart penalty on the green-white-checkered finish relegated him to 13th.

“All of that recent road-course experience is certainly helpful. Just reps at a road course in general help you in any kind of car you hop into. You kind of get used to what the weight (of the car) feels like on a road course,” Mosack said.

“While the Trans Am car and the Xfinity car do have quite a few differences, they’re also still fairly similar, or at least a lot more similar than a sportscar or an open-wheel car would be. It is fairly adaptable between the two, you just need to be mindful of the extra weight you’re carrying. The car rolls over a little bit more, and the brakes aren’t as strong as they are on the Trans Am car, but a lot of the same principles apply throughout the race.

“The braking is probably the biggest difference between an Xfinity car and an ARCA car, so I feel like it was good to kind of manage my brakes throughout the ARCA race at Mid-Ohio and see how they faded. I feel like that’s going to be the biggest thing to manage going into Chicago. In our eyes, we won that race at Mid-Ohio, and having that confidence helps going into Chicago.”

Confidence is what’s needed to attack Chicago’s 12-turn layout, where drivers speed past some of the city’s most renowned landmarks, from Michigan Avenue to South Lake Shore Drive, with the start-finish line near Buckingham Fountain.

“There are definitely some really challenging corners at Chicago,” Mosack said. “Turn one is a heavy braking zone where you quickly have to set up to get back to turn two, and when you do it right you can make up a little bit of time.

“That leads onto a long straightaway through (turns) three and four, where your exit off two is going to be really important. And then turn four is one of the really challenging corners on the track. It was really rough last year, so it’s a corner you never feel like you get into hard enough, but you also feel like if you go in a little harder, you’re probably going to crash. That’s a spot where maybe late in the race there’s time to be found there, but there’s definitely a risk to go get it.

“That leads to a little tight section into turn five, which is another important corner to get off of well because it leads onto the longest straightaway. And that leads to another heavy braking zone in (turn) six, back into a quick setup into turn seven, which is probably the tightest corner on the track. It’s really easy to get into trouble there with the downhill braking zone.

“And that leads to the fastest cornering section – (turns) eight, nine and 10 – which is probably the most fun part of the track, but it’s also very easy to make a mistake there. The closer you can get to the wall there, the faster you’ll go, but obviously that comes with a risk.

“And then the last two corners are pretty basic, 90-degree, right-hand corners. That section of the track has been repaved, so those corners will have a lot of grip.”

Typical road-course venues have significant run-off areas, whereas street circuits do not. Getting comfortable with those confines can set one’s lap times free.

“The biggest takeaway from those street-course races at Nashville was just getting comfortable running up close to the walls,” Mosack said. “Scott Lagasse, who I drove for in Trans Am, told me that if your car had sideview mirrors on it, you want to scrape it on the outside wall turning in, scrape the inside one at the apex, and then scrape the outside one on exit. It’s about getting comfortable with those last few inches against the wall.

“That’s where the track’s going to have the most grip late in the race, where there’s a little less rubber to slide on. It’s also going to give you the most radius at the corner and allow you to carry the most speed. But, obviously, the more risks you take, the more likely you are to catch the fence at some point. If you catch the outside here and there, it’s probably not going to hurt you too bad, but clipping the inside could definitely send you too hard into the outside wall.”

In addition to street cred, Mosack brings Chicago-based Porter Pipe & Supply to The Loop 110, where he will drive the No. 88 Porter Pipe & Supply Chevrolet Camaro. Porter Pipe & Supply is a third-generation, family-owned and operated wholesale supplier of commercial and industrial pipe, valves, fittings, plumbing supplies, HVAC and refrigeration equipment and mechanical products.

“We’re proud Chicagoans and the NASCAR race weekend brings a tremendous amount of pride,” said Nick Porter, CEO, Porter Pipe & Supply. “It’s an incredibly unique way for us to take care of our customers in our hometown. Seeing the Porter Pipe & Supply car in a NASCAR race will be another milestone moment for our family-owned company.”

Mosack brokered the partnership with Porter Pipe & Supply, putting his degree in business entrepreneurship from High Point (N.C.) University to good use.

“I had the pleasure of being at Porter Pipe & Supply last week for a few hours before I went to Road America,” Mosack said. “I got to meet with a lot of their employees and their customers. They definitely seem to be even more excited than they were last year, and I feel the same way. It was great to see a lot of the same people who were all excited about how things went last year until we had our issue, and I feel like we can do even better for them this year.

“The Porters are a great family. If you talk with any of their employees, they’re all happy to be working there. It’s just a really cool atmosphere that they have there, and it makes you want to perform and do well for them.”

All aspects of the Xfinity Series race take place on Saturday. Mosack and his Xfinity Series counterparts hit the track at 9 a.m. CDT/10 a.m. EDT for a 50-minute practice session before qualifying starts at 10 a.m. CDT/11 a.m. EDT. The Loop 110 gets underway at 2:30 p.m. CDT/3:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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