Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hometown Kid Mason Mitchell Wins ARCA 150 at Iowa Speedway

Winner Mason Mitchell found another Superman fan at Iowa
Newton, Iowa isn't far from West Des Moines but 2014 ARCA Racing Series Champion Mason Mitchell could tell you otherwise after he won at his home track Friday July 17th with a last lap pass in a race that was scheduled for 150 laps but actually went 159 under ARCA's green flag finish rule. Everyone at Iowa endured a day in a Midwest steam bath as temperatures and humidity were oppressive all day and into the evening. Once the race was finished, an exuberant but exhausted Mitchell and his team quickly ran out of gas in the Victory Lane celebration. I'll bet they got a second wind later as Mason promised they would "celebrate like animals"! It was fun to see this local product get a win at home, and he did it in style as seems to be his habit. There was no questioning his enthusiasm when he took the checkered flag. Before driver introductions, I had given Mason a fist bump to encourage him so it was cool to see him snag the win.

Except for the heat, weather was great at Iowa Speedway
It was an incredibly long, hot day at Iowa Speedway, and I know there were a lot of people who suffered under the sweltering conditions that never really relented even after the sun went down. I knew we were in for a hot one when I left the hotel in Newton for the track that morning. At 6:30 a.m., it was already 74 degrees with 90 percent humidity, and it only got worse as the day wore on. I wasn't done editing my race photos until after midnight so the hottest 18 hour day at a racetrack I have ever experienced was certainly one for the record books. I went through two changes of clothes and could have changed again, but didn't have another shirt to wear so I just had to push through the sultry atmosphere like everyone else. With my soccer and basketball officiating, I am in pretty good physical shape but I felt badly for anyone who was wilting in the heat. Lots of folks had ice bags on their heads or necks, or inside their firesuits, and by no means was I feeling fresh as a daisy as Saturday rolled around. But I made it through and set a new personal best for steps on my phone's pedometer app at 23,874 for the day.

Turn 1 action was intense all night
I had originally intended to stay for Saturday's Indycar race but with my mother's death two weeks earlier, I had to drive back to Indy on Saturday and then head for Akron to work on her estate again on Sunday, so I got a bunch of miles across the Midwest last weekend. I did get to see part of one Indycar practice session on Friday and they are quite impressive on Iowa's little oval. While not in the same class as Indycars when it comes to speed, the ARCA machines seem perfectly suited to the progressive banking on the 7/8ths mile track. Drivers could really choose their lines for whatever suited their styles. I decided to shoot in Turn 1 at the start of the ARCA race and witnessed lots of three and four wide racing going into the corner, which was very exciting. And even though the track is short in length, there was plenty of room for side by side racing which lent itself to plenty of action during the race. I hope it looked as good on FoxSports as it did in person. For my first visit to Iowa Speedway, I was thoroughly impressed and the track photo staff were very helpful and accommodating. I am looking forward to going back again!

Austin Cindric (99) challenged  ARCA regularTom Hessert
This race proved to me once again why people need to get out and see an ARCA race when the series comes around, as a lot of these young guys have tons of talent and aren't afraid to mix it up on the track. Winner Mason Mitchell is only 20, second placed Kyle Weatherman just turned 18, Austin Cindric (son of Penske Racing President Tim Cindric) finished fourth and is about the same age. Cunningham Motorsports finished 2-3-4 with veteran Tom Hessert sandwiched in third by his two youngster teammates. Weatherman has already won a race this year and nearly won Iowa. Cindric seemed poised to win as well, so the depth of young talent is on display every week. Look down the Top 10 in season points and you'll see youth being served week in and week out in this series: Austin Wayne Self, Josh Williams, Sarah Cornett-Ching, and David Levine are all potential race winners every week.

This week the series comes to my hometown of Indianapolis to race on the Lucas Oil Raceway oval which is flatter and shorter than Iowa, but can also lend itself to excellent side by side racing. Hopefully the weather will be a little less extreme than last weekend, but with the ARCA CRA Super Series running a 100 lap feature before ARCA's 200 lapper, the racing promises to be plenty extreme! You need to be there! Look me up if you make it out to Clermont Friday!

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