FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - Mullins Racing got back on track for the first time this year over the weekend by taking part in the annual ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards open test session at Daytona International Speedway.
Mullins Racing fielded a pair of cars during the two-day test session, which took place on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 12-13. The first car was driven by team owner and primary driver Willie Mullins, who piloted the car to the sixth fastest overall time during the two days of testing.
“We went down there hoping to come away with a top-10 test speed and we were able to achieve that,” said Mullins, who circled Daytona’s 2.5-mile oval in 49.347 seconds at 182.382 mph. “We were right in the middle of all the big teams, so we were very pleased with that and how the weekend worked out. We’re very excited for the race now.”
In addition to Mullins, five other drivers took turns making laps in a second Mullins Racing entry during the test session. They included reigning NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion Alex Labbe, who is moving to the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2018 and needed to turn laps at Daytona in order to be approved to race in the season opening NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Feb. 17.
Labbe, 24, turned the fastest lap of the five drivers in the second Mullins Racing Ford. His 50.641-second lap at 177.722 mph left him ranked 39th out of more than 60 drivers that turned laps at Daytona International Speedway during the course of the open test.
“We had Mario Gosselin bring his Xfinity driver, Alex Labbe, to us so he could turn some laps at Daytona,” Mullins said. “He came down there and turned, at the time, the 13th fastest lap in that practice session. He really found speed in our second car, which was really great for us as a team.”
Other drivers who turned laps for Mullins Racing at Daytona International Speedway during the open test were Andrew Belmont, Dick Karth, Robert Bruce and Leslie Ferris. Of them Belmont was 39th fastest, Karth 56th, Bruce 57th and Ferris 62nd.
“We gave a lot of people the chance to make laps and have some good practice sessions,” Mullins said. “We were able to get them approved for the Lucas Oil 200 if they decide to come back for the race. On my car, we were able to work on it through the weekend and find some good speed. We’re very pleased with the package we’ll be going back with in February.”
At this time Mullins Racing has not determined if they will field a second car for the season opening Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire on Feb. 10 and the team is still seeking interested parties with funding for that opportunity. If plans for the second car do not come together, the second car will instead serve as Mullins’ backup car at Daytona.
“We don’t have any plans in place at this point, but that car will definitely be my backup car in case something happens in practice or any time before the race,” Mullins said. “We’re going to keep it in the trailer just in case we need another bullet for the race.”
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