With weather threatening to shorten racing action, Friday’s General Tire 200 at the Talladega Superspeedway was full of action as soon as the green flag waved. Unfortunately, an accident with only two laps remaining, halted Mullins’ late race push, as he finished 17th.
“Not the finish we wanted,” Mullins said.
The day started off promising, as Mullins hit the track early in the first and only ARCA Racing Series practice session. He maintained his Daytona momentum, jumping to 3rd fastest on the leaderboard. Now, the series knew that Mullins was a serious contender for the afternoon’s 200-mile race.
He maintained this position for a significant portion of practice, until several cars began to get into larger groups, in an attempt to practice for qualifying.
As practice come to a close, Mullins had slipped down to the 22nd position, with a fast lap of 51.531 seconds. Despite the fall on the leaderboard, Mullins and his team felt confident they had a top-notch racecar.
For qualifying, the 35 car field was divided into seven groups, set at random, from the morning’s practice session. Therefore, Mullins was placed in the fifth qualifying group.
In his group, he utilized the multi-car draft, connecting with several fast cars to record a fast lap of 51.664 seconds, the 6th fastest time out of the entire field. His qualifying effort turned out to be his best qualifying position in his ARCA Racing Series career.
As the race approached, Mullins was confident that he could keep the No. 34 Crow Wing Recycling-Bugsy's Automotive Ford upfront throughout 200 miles around the Talladega Superspeedway.
As the cars fired on the grid and made their way on to the track, Mullins discovered a small steering wheel issue. He was quickly able to fix the issue, but because he was forced to fix the issue, it sent him to the back for the start.
After the green flag waved, the field stayed on a very high pace, as Mullins shot like a rocket to the front, popping inside the Top-10 frequently before scheduled pit stops.
Right before pit stops, a lapped car failed to get out of the way of the leaders, forcing them to take evasive action, as the pack made their way to pit road. Because of this melee, two cars spun at the entrance to pit road, bringing out the caution.
Fortunately, Mullins was planning on staying out for another lap before making his pit stop, avoiding the accident completely.
During the caution, Mullins brought his No. 34 Ford down pit road for service, as the crew filled it with enough racing fuel to make it to the end of the race without having to pit again.
As the race returned to green, Mullins stayed toward the back to let more of the race play out before he made his move.
Just like the initial start of the race, Mullins pop corned in and out of the Top-10, as he jockeyed for position, setting himself up for a good finish.
He once again was forced to take evasive actions with 20 laps to go, as one of his competitors spun into the backstretch wall, bringing out the caution flag once again.
Under caution, Mullins and Belmont discussed the moves needed to make it to the front, as they settled that once the race returned to green, Mullins would do everything he could to get to the front.
Once the green flag restarted the race, Mullins marched his way to the front, battling with some of the series biggest names, swapping positions late in the race. Then, with only two laps remaining, chaos broke out.
As the field was entering turn 3, several cars made contact, causing a multi-car accident. Unfortunately, Mullins was unable to make it through the chaos, as he received light damage to the right side of his racing machine.
To make matters worse, due to the lengthy clean-up and threatening weather, ARCA Racing Series officials decided to end the race under caution. Because of this, Mullins was awarded the 17th position.
Looking ahead, Mullins will hand over the reins of the No. 34 to the Basham family, as they will service and pilot the car on May 22nd, as the ARCA Racing Series heads “home”, to the Toledo Speedway for the Menards 200. The 200-lap event will be broadcast on the American Sports Network, while ARCARacing.com will provide live Timing and Scoring throughout the entire weekend.
ABOUT MULLINS RACING
Mullins Racing is an all-around motorsports team, racing in the ARCA Racing Series and in the Sports car Club of America (SCCA). This will be the team’s second year competing in the ARCA Racing Series.
For more information on Mullins Racing, visit their website, www.mullingsracing.net, or connect with the team through Facebook (Mullins Racing) and on Twitter (@mullins_racing).