FREDRICSBURG, Va. — When Thomas Praytor and Willie Mullins teamed up as drafting partners during the General Tire 200 at Talladega (Ala) Superspeedway on May 6, it was actually just the latest collaboration between the pair of low-budget racers.
Praytor and Mullins have been helping each other since 2015 when Mullins Racing fielded a car for J.J. Pack in the season opening event at Daytona Int’l Speedway. Praytor let Mullins enter the car with Praytor’s 2014 ARCA Racing Series owner points, which allowed Pack to make the race via provisional.
“Coming up to Daytona we didn’t have a number with any kind of points,” Mullins recalled. “Our crew chief Andy Belmont put us together with Thomas Praytor and we got their points from the previous year. Inevitably that is what got J.J. Pack into the show that first year. By using their points we were able to get that 40th-place starting position at Daytona in 2015.”
Praytor, a veteran racer who has 89 ARCA starts under his belt, said the friendship with Mullins grew quickly following that weekend at Daytona in 2015.
“Ever since then we both realized we were small teams and we needed to help each other because that is how racing is these days,” Praytor said. “Now we’re three or four years down the road and we’re still good friends.”
Since then Praytor and Mullins have helped each other out many times. In fact, Praytor once let Mullins borrow a sway bar from him for more than nine months. Mullins eventually returned it, but not without a bit of harmless ribbing from Praytor.
“He came walking in the trailer at the end of last year with that sway bar and I said, ‘Oh…the infamous sway bar,’” Praytor recalled between laughs. “There it was coming back in to my possession.”
As a show of support, and admittedly a bit of a joke, Praytor even wore one of Mullins’ T-shirts under his driving suit during the General Tire 200. Mullins admitted when he saw Praytor before the race wearing his shirt, he couldn’t help but smile.
“The story behind that is it started off with my girlfriend giving his girlfriend a T-shirt just because of some friendly kidding back and forth,” Mullins explained. “Well when we were getting ready to get in the cars he came up to me and said, ‘Oh, by the way…’ and it was just too funny.
“It actually made my day that someone would go out of their way to make me laugh and it made us feel good and appreciated a little bit. After the race I wanted to make sure I got a picture with him.”