Willie Mullins didn’t find victory lane on Saturday night at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, but he still left with a smile on his face.
Mullins and Mullins Racing made their short track debut on Saturday night during the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Music City 200 presented by Azure Foundation in Nashville, Tenn. Wheeling the No. 34 County Waste Ford in partnership with Basham Racing, Mullins earned a respectable 17th-place finish, three laps down to race winner Chad Finley.
“For our team it was a successful weekend,” Mullins said. “We went there, we didn’t tear the car up and we finished 17th. It wasn’t a stealer weekend but it was a good and successful weekend. We can’t complain about anything really.”
Mullins started Saturday off by qualifying 23rd in the 33-car field. He spent most of the race learning and making laps around the historic .596-mile short track. The race served as a prequel of sorts for Mullins, who is planning to make his second career short track start later this year when the ARCA Racing Series visits Minnesota’s Elko Speedway on June 3.
The biggest thing Mullins said he learned involves a word veteran short trackers know all about: aggression.
“I need to be more aggressive,” Mullins said. “Short track racing features a lot more aggression. I’ve got to get up on the wheel a lot earlier than later so I can stay closer to the lead cars and not get myself behind.
“I now know what to expect at Elko. When we unload off the trailer we’ve got to be fast right away. We need to just be ready to drive a lot harder a lot sooner,” Mullins said.
Mullins said he spent a lot of time Saturday in Nashville making sure he was comfortable in his race car, something he said he desperately needed after crashing out of the season opening Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 at Daytona International Speedway in February.
“Every time you get in the car and turn some laps it gets you a little bit more comfortable for the next race,” Mullins said. “There is not going to be this big span now between Daytona and Talladega that I won’t be in the car. We only have three weeks until Talladega so we’re trying to get that buttoned up and I was in a car and made some laps at Nashville. Being in the car and making laps helps you get use to what you need to do, so that can only help.”
Mullins Racing will return to the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards on May 5 when the series invades the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama for the General Tire 200.