In November of 2013 Mason Mitchell and his family decided that they would run their own ARCA operation for the 2014 campaign. They barely made it to the preseason test at Daytona International Speedway (FL). Mitchell went to the early season short track races without a back-up car. There were times when Mitchell didn’t know if he’d be able to make it to the next race.
But Mitchell and his Mason Mitchell Motorsports team persevered. The end result was the 20-year-old from West Des Moines, Iowa becoming the 2014 ARCA Racing Series champion.
“I have so much pride in this,” Mitchell told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I know how much I involved myself in it and I know my family and friends have helped me and the guys at Mason Mitchell Motorsports. That’s what means a lot, too. Just because we own it and we make it all happen and it’s different than just driving.”
The hardest part of it all was the start of the season according to Mitchell. It wasn’t the on-track side of things that stressed him out the most. He knew they’d be in good shape once they got to the track.
“We had good speed everywhere we went,” he said. “Honestly the beginning was a little difficult just because not many people put faith in the program or faith in myself. There were sleepless nights. There are so many difficult scenarios that we went through, but that’s what makes a champion.”
Mitchell won the championship by 255 points over Grant Enfinger. He went to the season finale at Kansas Speedway (KS) just having to start the race to officially become the champion.
Mitchell scored just one win this year, but he credits that win at Chicagoland Speedway (IL) as well as the fall race at Salem Speedway (IN) as the turning points of the season.
“I think a big part of it was the win at Chicago, which a lot of people would probably agree on,” he said. “But honestly I think a huge point where we stopped Grant’s dominance on short tracks was the Salem fall race where we went out there and set a blistering pace and put the whole field a lap or two down at one point and ended up finishing second.”
Many drivers say that they don’t points race. Many say “I strive for wins and the points will follow.” That’s not how Mitchell operates. That’s not how he won this championship.
“I went out there and points raced from the drop of the green flag at Daytona,” he said. “Obviously I want to win every race and try to win every race, but you’ve got to be smart too if you’re going for the championship. I think that’s what makes myself and makes our organization a little bit different than other people. I think it worked out pretty good this year.”
Now Mitchell turns his attention to 2015. His Mason Mitchell Motorsports team will continue on in ARCA, but it will do so with a different driver behind the wheel. Mitchell wants to move up the ladder. But he just needs an opportunity to present itself.
“I feel like if I can get myself aligned with a top-tier organization I can have the same amount of success that I had here,” he said. “I just need that one opportunity, that one chance, and I think I can make it happen.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, CT and NJ) -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Feature Photo Credit: ARCA