TALLADEGA, Ala. – They couldn’t be further apart in the race of life; but in the race on the track, they are as close as it gets.
Albeit early in the 2013 season, nine-time ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards champion Frank Kimmel and 18-year-old Scott Rookie Challenge contender Mason Mingus are neck and neck for the championship points battle. In fact, headed into Friday’s Int’l Motorsports Hall of Fame 250 at Talladega Superspeedway, Kimmel leads Mingus by just 30 points.
It’s an odd match-up, a teenager who’s still in high school and a grown man with kids graduating from college, yet it’s there, as loud and compelling as ever. In plain numbers, 33 years separate Kimmel, who turned 51 on April 30th, from Mingus, who won’t be 19 until November.
“It’s kind of the way it’s been over the last decade here,” Kimmel said. “If it’s not Mason, it’s some other rookie coming with all the right equipment and lots of talent. Mason might be new around here, but he’s been around for a while. He’s driven late models quite a bit, and has shown a lot of promise. I consider him a formidable opponent for sure.”
A formidable opponent indeed. Mingus, in his first full season on tour, is off to a spectacular start in 2013 beginning with a solid seventh place showing in his Daytona debut, followed by a career-best fourth place finish on the Mobile Int’l Speedway short track where he earned his career-first Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell to boot. Mingus also finished 10th at Salem Speedway last Sunday.
“I’m really excited to race at Talladega after the performance we had at Daytona,” Mingus said. “I had never been on a superspeedway until Daytona, and we were solidly in the top-five and could have improved that throughout the race if I had not suffered front end damage on a restart when they stacked up in front of me. I came out of Daytona having learned a lot, and with a top 10 run; but I was still disappointed with a seventh place finish. I knew what we were capable of if we had not had to come from the back after repairs. Talladega gives me another chance to improve at a superspeedway and capture more points.”
And in the big picture, that’s what it’s all about – capturing points. In fact, if Mingus were to capture enough points to be the ARCA champion this year, he would become the youngest champion in series history, which says a lot considering the renowned stock car tour is in its 61st season of competition. Currently, Ty Dillon is the youngest champion, having earned the title at 19 years old in 2011.
“There is no one better in the ARCA series to be neck and neck with in the points battle than Frank,” continued the Brentwood, Tennessee rookie. “He has a lot of experience with this, having so many championships; but I think I have a good chance at it. I have a team that is very capable helping me win this championship. The amount that they taught me in just 11 races last year was incredible, and it gave us a big head start into this year, and I think we can continue and improve our success.”