Mason Mingus was happy to talk about sitting atop the leader board in the Automobile Racing Club of America point standings, but only until he got to the track for practice.
His high school track, that is, where he runs both the 4x400 and 4x100 relays.
Between his feet and the 700-horsepower under the hood of his 811 Call Before You Dig/Diamond Equipment Toyota, Mingus is always moving fast.
“That might be pushing it,” the Franklin resident chuckled.
A senior at Franklin Road Academy, the 17-year-old is riding through some heady territory, as he is tied with nine-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel at the top of the national point standings.
“It’s still early,” Mingus said. “We’ve got a good start going on the season, but there’s a long way to go.”
Mingus turned heads in the first race of the season, starting ninth and finishing seventh on the high banks of Daytona in February.
“I had a whole lot to learn about Daytona, but the crew talked me through it and I got comfortable with the speed and the racing.”
If there was any disappointment to a solid finish in Daytona it might have been that the race weekend was pushed back a week, occurring at the same time as the state individual wrestling championships being held at the Williamson County Agricultural Center. Mingus has been a state contender the last two years.
“I felt like I had a chance to maybe make a run at the state, but Daytona…obviously I’d sacrifice the state individuals for Daytona,” he said. “Besides, we (FRA) won the (Division II) duals title as a team the week before. The team title was more important than an individual one.”
Last month Mingus captured his first pole position at Mobile (Ala.) Speedway. After leading some laps, Mingus finished the race in fourth place, enough to tie him with Kimmel in the standings.
“We were good all day in practice,” said Mingus. “Then to start on the pole and get so much experience and a top-five finish, it was a pretty good weekend.”
The next ARCA event, scheduled for April 28, is set for Salem (Ind.) Speedway, a high-banked half-mile track that is known for speed. It’s also Kimmel’s home track, where he has won nine times out of the 92 races ARCA has run at the facility. Mingus, though, doesn’t appear intimidated.
“We’ve had some success in the late-model cars there, and I think a good part of that experience will transfer over to the ARCA car. But it is Mr. Kimmel’s home track,” he said.
As a tune-up for Salem, Mingus has entered the 200-lap, late-model event at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville April 6. And he’s hopeful his early season experience will work in his favor.
“We’ve got a couple of races under our belts and that should give us a bit of an edge,” he said. “Being comfortable with longer races should be a plus. Besides, we normally run pretty well at Nashville.”