Willie Mullins is going to tackle a new challenge on Saturday, April 8 when he ventures to Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville in Tennessee to make the first short track start of his career.
Mullins, driving the No. 34 Ford in partnership with the Basham family, has never raced on a short track at any level during his motorsports career. That’s going to change on Saturday during the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Music City 200 presented by Azure Foundation at the .596-mile oval.
“It just so happened that Darrell Basham wasn’t feeling well again, so instead of them dragging all of their family down for the deal, we decided to go ahead and run the No. 34,” Mullins said. “It’s going to be our first try on anything less than two miles in length.”
Mullins started the season off with a career-best fifth-place qualifying effort at Daytona International Speedway during the Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 driven by General Tire. His race ended unexpectedly after only 13 laps when he was swept up in a crash not of his making.
“I didn’t get enough laps at Daytona. I wanted to make sure we were comfortable in the car for Talladega,” Mullins said. “I know there is a lot of difference between the two, but I just want to be comfortable in the car wherever I go and Nashville will be a good test for our team to make sure we can do that.”
The race at Nashville is one of two short track starts Mullins and the Mullins Racing team are expecting to make this year. Mullins said the race at Nashville will serve as a good test for himself and the team as they prepare for the second race at Elko Speedway in Minnesota on June 3.
“Our expectation is to hopefully roll it on the truck at the end of the night. We’re hoping for a top-15,” Mullins said. “We’re definitely making sure the car feels good underneath me and seeing how the power works with the Ilmor 396. We’re trying to get comfortable with that package on a short track.
“I need to log laps. I need to be able to give the crew chief good data back. He needs to be able to make the car better for me to drive and to feel good,” Mullins said. “We need to make sure we gel as a team.”
The Mullins Racing effort at Nashville will be led by racing veteran Tommy Bear, who will be stepping up from his duties as the shop chief to serve as crew chief for Mullins on April 8.
“Tommy Bear is the one setting up all these cars at the shop, like before Daytona this year,” Mullins explained. “We’ve worked with him in the past at some other races, like road races. He is a veteran.”
Mullins’ No. 34 Ford will carry primary sponsorship from County Waste, located in Fredricksburg, Va., with additional support coming from Bugsy’s Auto Shop.
For more information on Mullins Racing, please visit mullinsracing.net, like them on Facebook (Mullins Racing) and follow them on Twitter @mullins_racing.
The Music City 200 presented by Azure Foundation is the second race of the 2017 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season. The one-day event at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville begins with practice on Saturday, April 8 from 1:15 to 2:45 p.m., with qualifying scheduled for 4:15 p.m. The Music City 200 presented by Azure Foundation is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. The race will be televised live on MAVTV and ARCARacing.com will provide live timing and scoring.