Strong Week In Florida For Mullins Racing
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Mullins Racing enjoyed a solid week of competition in the ARCA Menards Series, with drivers Willie Mullins and Brayton Laster putting together solid finishes on two entirely different race tracks.
The week began for the team on Tuesday at New Smyrna Speedway for the Race to Stop Suicide 200, where Mullins piloted the No. 11 entry in his third start at the historic Florida short track. After qualifying eighth, Mullins ran solidly inside the top-10 throughout the day on his way to a career-best eighth-place finish in ARCA Menards Series East competition.
“During the race we were trying to pace the leaders as best we could,” Mullins said. “We got one lap down and worked to get that back with the lucky dog at the halfway break, but we tangled with the No. 01 and that put us a second lap back. It was just hard from there to get back on the lead lap.
“We definitely had the pace to finish on the lead lap, we just missed it by a little bit.”
Following a solid performance at New Smyrna for Mullins, the team shifted gears and turned its attention to Daytona International Speedway for Saturday’s ARCA Menards Series Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire.
Mullins once again piloted his familiar No. 3 for the team, which also welcomed rookie Brayton Laster to pilot the No. 03 at Daytona for the first time. Mullins qualified eighth and Laster qualified 17th, but an issue on pit road for Mullins meant he would be force
d to start Saturday’s race from the tail of the field.
“During qualifying, the car in front of us started to roll out and unfortunately he stalled a little bit,” Mullins explained. “The car behind us just ran me over from behind. I don’t know if the brake pedal fell off the car or if he thought he was going to be left behind. It was an unfortunate accident, it ripped the rear bumper and left quarter off of it. We still went out and qualified with that damage and qualified eighth.”
Mullins and his crew went work immediately after qualifying and, with the help from Venturini Motorsports and Kyle Busch Motorsports, the team was able to have the car repaired and ready to race in time for Saturday’s 150-mile event.
For Laster, things got off to a rough start. He started the race in the wrong gear and fell back through the field, but from there he teamed up with Mullins and the two began working their way back up through the pack.
“Our race had a lot of ups and downs,” Laster said. “At the start I made the biggest rookie mistake of my career. I was accidentally in fourth gear instead of second gear and we went back to 27th real quick. We had to spend the next 60 laps or so rebounding from that.
“We got hooked up with Willie really early on and we started picking them off like flies after that.”
Together, Mullins and Laster stayed out of trouble and raced inside the top-20 for much of the race. As the laps began to wind down, Laster found himself in a group of cars that was catching the lead pack.
With less than 10 laps left Laster’s group caught the lead pack and he soon found himself fighting for a position within the top-10. Mullins, meanwhile, found himself racing just outside the top-10.
“The lead pack pulled away from everyone and there were about five or six of us together just Sunday cruising,” Laster said. “I didn’t think we would catch the lead pack, but we got a big single file line going and the next thing you know its about 10 to go and we’ve caught the lead pack. And not only did we catch them, we were trying to pass them on the outside.”
A late-race caution restacked the field, leading to a one-lap dash to the finish. Laster and Mullins both hung with the pack through turns one and two, but a crash midway down the backstretch forced both drivers to perform evasive maneuvers.
Neither driver was involved in the crash, with Laster leading the Mullins Racing team to the checkered flag with a 13th-place finish. Mullins followed him across the finish line in 14th.
“Towards the end of the race I didn’t go soon enough,” Mullins said. “I waited a little too long to try and go. When we did I couldn’t get up into the top-10 where the fast cars were.”
Mullins said he was extremely proud of his rookie teammate Laster, who showed poise and patience in his first trip to the World Center of Racing.
“I believe Brayton delivered on our expectations,” Mullins said. “He listened to everybody, he did everything we asked of him. He got the result he was looking for. We’re hoping that we can have him back for another race in the future.”
Summing up the week, Mullins said he was happy to bring both cars home in one piece, though he was disappointed with his own finish in Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire.
“The word I’m thinking of is average. We had an average weekend,” Mullins said. “We finished second at Daytona in 2018 so nothing less than a win will ever quench that thirst at Daytona now. New Smyrna was a great solid race for us while Daytona was just an average weekend for us.
“For Brayton, the weekend was extraordinary. For him to do what he did was top level. I hope he continues that success so he can keep moving forward.”
Mullins Racing would like to thank all of its sponsors, including CorvetteParts.net, Crow Wing Recycling, CW Metals, Bugsy's Auto, Snap On by Timmy Brann and Dinah Marie Photography.