By Matt Weaver (HOMESTEAD, Fla.) — For defending ARCA Racing Series champion Mason Mitchell, making his debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this weekend at Homestead Miami Speedway has been a matter of gaining experience.
Mitchell is “flying blind” in that despite all of his success in ARCA on intermediate tracks, the 21-year-old prospect had never turned a lap in a NASCAR Truck until the first of two practice sessions on Thursday in Miami-Dade County.
No driver ran more laps in those sessions than Mitchell as he looked to shorten his learning curve prior to race day for the newly-formed No. 48 New England Energy Management Ford squad.
“Experience is important,” Mitchell said. “I don’t want to go out there in my first race and make a fool of myself. I want to have a good showing and have a good solid race. I intend to do just that and hopefully run in the top-10. I want to run up front and turn some heads. This is my one shot right now and I intend to make the most of it.”
Despite the lack of experience, Mitchell is certainly equipped for success on Friday night in Florida. The chassis, prepared out of his own Mason Mitchell Motorsports shop in Mooresville, is the same entry that Ryan Blaney took to a second-place finish in this event last season while under the possession of Brad Keselowski Racing.
Mitchell will also be able to lean on the veteran experience of crew chief Ricky Viers who has seven wins at the Truck Series level with four different drivers, including Kevin Harvick. He’s asked Blaney for some tips but admits that he is largely going into the experience with much to learn.
“I’ve talked Blaney and some of his guys a little bit but we’re entering this race as lone soliders,” Mitchell said. “But we did that all year in ARCA though so I’m confident in what we have and that we can have a good run (on Friday) night.”
Mitchell captured the ARCA championship in just his first full season and first altogether with MMM. In 20 starts, Mitchell posted a single victory, 12-top-5s and 18 top-10s, defeating a very stout Grant Enfinger in the final point standings.
Now Mitchell looks to take his considerable talents to South Beach and NASCAR, while working to connect the pieces needed to win championships here as well.