For the first time in series history, the stars of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East are preparing to take on the high banks of Mobile International Speedway this Saturday. Kyle Benjamin, driver of the Ranier Racing No. 40 car, enters the inaugural Mobile 150 at the Mobile, Alabama half-mile oval oozing with confidence.
Benjamin has not only competed at Mobile before, but he has done so in a Stock Car, finishing second in an ARCA Racing Series event in 2014. Though it has been two years since that start, Benjamin feels he has a leg up on most of the competition heading into the inaugural K&N East race at the track.
“It definitely helps having experience,” Benjamin told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “A lot of these guys showing up haven’t seen this place before. They’re starting off by having to figure out the track and we already have a feel for it so we can work on our car a lot quicker. Just knowing how it races and stuff like that, it really helps having experience.”
Last weekend Mobile opened its gates to K&N East teams for testing, and while most drivers spent time acclimating to the facility Benjamin was quick to get reacquainted. That allowed the team to put much of their focus on fine tuning an already fast racecar.
“It went really good,” Benjamin said of the test session. “We unloaded fast and didn’t have to throw too much at the car. We changed a few things, but there was a lot of preparation at the shop. We showed up good which is just a testament to how good this team is and I’m pretty excited about it. We have a fast car.”
Not only did the car feel fast, it actually was fast according to the speed charts. At the end of the weekend, Benjamin and Ranier Racing teammate Spencer Davis held the first two positions on the charts.
Even with most of the field tackling this half-mile oval for the first time in a Stock Car under race conditions on Saturday, Benjamin expects some healthy action once the green flag falls. He believes that the driver who ends up in victory lane might just be the driver who can keep the most amount of rubber on their tires at the end of 150 laps.
“It’ll be a good race; you can pass here pretty easily once you get under people,” said Benjamin. “That’s one thing I like about this place. Tire wear is going to be a big deal, whoever can keep the tires on the car until the end is probably going to win.”
Benjamin enters Saturday’s race coming off a solid fourth-place finish in the season opener at New Smyrna Speedway. With momentum on his side and the know-how to get it done at Mobile, Benjamin will be one of the favorites to make history as the inaugural K&N East winner at Mobile.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, LI, MA) – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com