(Daytona Beach, FL)— From the test in early January to this weekend in the Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 Driven by General Tire at the Daytona International Speedway (DIS), one thing was evident, that all three of the Mason Mitchell Motorsports (MMM) cars were fast.
For the second time as a team in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, the 2014 championship team fielded three entries and had success doing it. Kyle Weatherman led the charge with an eighth place finish, Kaz Grala finished in tenth and Quin Houff finished 28th.
Houff and Weatherman ran 1-2 for the majority of the first half of the 80 lap event with Houff pacing the field in his No. 98 BeatinCancerWithDuke.org Chevrolet for 23 consecutive laps (22-44). Houff started in the 16th position and using patience and guidance from veteran crew chief Kevin Reed quickly found himself inside the top-five by lap 12. After his only pit-stop of the day Houff restarted in 20th and was working his way back toward the top-ten when trouble found the No. 98 team going down the backstretch on lap 65. A multi-car incident unfolded in font of Houff with nowhere to go. The No. 98 sustained enough damage to the front right to end Houff’s bid at a Daytona win. He finished 28th 9 laps down.
“Racing at Daytona was a dream come true that’s all I can say about it,” a disappointed Houff stated after the race. “These guys on the MMM team brought one great piece to the track. I truly learned so much in the draft throughout the whole weekend. It’s been a blast racing with ARCA. I hope we can get back here and race again.”
“I’m really blessed with a great family. I was praying for “Mama BJ” to let it rain when we were leading at halfway. I could feel her presence with me inside the car today keeping me safe. Leading laps at Daytona on Fox Sports 1 was pretty special, you truly couldn’t ask for much more.”
Houff’s teammate Kyle Weatherman ran behind him in the second position for much of the first half of the race. The 19-year-old made his only trip to pit-road under caution at lap 46 and restarted in the 16th position. Weatherman spent the majority of the second half of the race exerting patience like a veteran and worked his way back up to the eighth position and avoiding several close calls when the race was called at lap 75. The finish marked Weatherman’s second top-ten finish in two races at Daytona.
“We came out of here in one piece which was our goal and have something to improve upon when we prepare to go to Talladega in May,” a satisfied Weatherman said. “Having TJ Majors as a spotter was a huge help. He definitely made my job a lot easier. We started to get the outside line rolling towards the end. I would have liked to finish those last five laps under green. But were ready to go to Nashville. Nashville is more of a driver controlled racetrack that I’ve had a lot of success racing at.”
The third MMM teammate Kaz Grala driving the No. 88 Kiklos Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil Chevrolet passed more cars than anyone on the track. Grala’s adventure began early on lap six when a driver hit him in the left rear and cutting the valve stem on one of his General Tires. The unscheduled pit-stop forced Grala back to the 35th position but in just ten laps Grala cracked the top-25. After two red flags and a few close calls, Grala was able to guide the No. 88 to a tenth place finish in his DIS debut and his ARCA Racing series debut.
He was able to gain valuable experience for next weekend’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy 250 where he will drive the No. 33 entry for GMS Racing.
“I’m just glad that I was able to run all of the laps,” a satisfied Grala exclaimed. I feel like I gained a lot experience and comfort for the truck race next Friday. The MMM team gave me a crazy fast car, if we had the track position we could have and would have competed for the win.”
The 18-year-old had several close calls including one that cut down his left rear tire very early in the day.
“Unfortunately there was contact early and someone turned into me and forced us back to 35th. We slowly but surely worked our way back into the top-10 for solid finish. It seemed like every time that there was a “big one” we seemed to be right by it and squeaked by. Luck was on our side today.”
The next race for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is the Music City 200 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville April 8.
Follow MMM on Social Media: To keep up-to-date with the latest, news, information and race updates, follow MMM racing’s twitter page @MMM_Race and “like” their facebook page at Mason Mitchell Motorsports.
Mason Mitchell Motorsports: Is a championship driver development team fielding multiple entries in the ARCA Racing Series for the 2016 season. The team is based out of Mooresville, North Carolina. http://www.masonmitchellmotorsports.com