Fourth straight top 20 for NASCAR truck rookie driver.
Sunoco rookie of the year contender Mason Mingus and his Win-Tron Racing team managed their fourth consecutive top-20 finish this past Friday night at Iowa Speedway in the American Ethanol 200.
While the finish wasn’t exactly what they hoped, their result on Friday night however, guaranteed them a start in the next NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race at Eldora Speedway on July 23.
Mingus returned to Iowa Speedway this past week with fond memories. After all, the unique 0.875-mile paved was the site of his second career ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards pole last season. This time around, the Brentwood, Tennessee native was facing the track with a different monster, a NASCAR truck.
Still, even with an opposite vehicle, Mingus and his team were highly optimistic entering the first practice session on Friday morning. With threatening skies near, NASCAR opted to move the start of practice up by five minutes with the No. 35 Call 811 Before You Dig Toyota Tundra not far behind.
During practice, Mingus maneuvered the 20th quickest lap, but felt comfortable in the changes that crew chief Mark Rette was making. With a to-do list on hand, the Win-Tron Racing team had plenty that wanted to try in the second practice session later Friday, but Mother Nature had other plans.
A consistent rain wiped out the final practice session, meaning knockout qualifying would be their only on-track session before the start of the ninth race of the season.
In time trials, Mingus struggled for grip, but produced the 23rd fastest time overall. With 200 laps ahead, the Brentwood, Tennessee native was focused on leaving his qualifying performance in the dust and charging through the field.
From the drop of the green flag, Mingus comfortably made progression through the field and by the competition caution on Lap 45, Mingus had throttled forward to 21st. Under the caution, crew chief Mark Rette took the opportunity to bring his driver down pit road for tires, fuel and adjustments.
On the restart, the teenage sensation showed that the adjustments were paying off, and by Lap 63 had maneuvered himself inside the top-20. By the halfway mark, Mingus had picked up two more positions finding himself in 18th with 100 laps to go.
While green flag pit stops began on Lap 122, Mingus remained on track until the fourth caution flag of the night flew a few laps later for a spinning No. 12 truck.
Under the yellow, Rette elected to bring the Win-Tron Racing development driver down pit road for his final stop of the night, which included tires, fuel and more adjustments.
Through the races final sector, Mingus mounted a charge and was able to roar from 19th to 17th over the final 70 laps to record his sixth top-20 finish of the season.
“Overall, it wasn’t a bad race for us,” offered Mingus. “It should have been a decent point’s night for us. We had a pretty solid handling truck all night, we just lacked a little speed. We had a No. 35 Call 811 Before You Dig Toyota Tundra on long green flag runs, we just didn’t fire off on the short runs well. We were definitely able to learn a lot this weekend that should translate over to a lot of the tracks coming up. We will start getting ready for Eldora, which is an animal of its own.”
Nate Thiesse, co-truck owner of Win-Tron Racing offered his thoughts post-Iowa.
“Not a great night for us, but a solid one nonetheless. Mason did a great job of getting as many positions as he could, especially in the closing laps. We’ll take with what we learned at Iowa and hope to apply it to our short track races later on the year and hope it will pay off with some better finishes.”
Entering Iowa, Mingus sits 13th in the championship standings, 62 markers from 10th place held by John Wes Townley. Mingus unofficially sits second in the Sunoco rookie of the year standings, behind current leader Ben Kennedy.
After a week off, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action for a mid-week showdown at Eldora Speedway for the running of the 1-800-CARCASH Mudsummer Classic on Wednesday, July 23.