St. Louis: Mike Mittler - NASCAR spotlight

Mike Mittler discovers and grooms future NASCAR stars DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 15, 2003) -- Mike Mittler is a racer through-and-through who understands -- at least for now -- his role as a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series owner. Mittler, whose...

Mike Mittler discovers and grooms future NASCAR stars

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 15, 2003) -- Mike Mittler is a racer through-and-through who understands -- at least for now -- his role as a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series owner.

Mittler, whose No. 63 Mittler Bros Racing Ford team is based in suburban St. Louis -- a few miles from Gateway International Raceway, host of Saturday night's Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 -- is a shrewd judge of new driving talent.

He gave several notable names their first opportunities in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series: Kenny Irwin and Tony Roper, current NASCAR Winston Cup Series Raybestos Rookie contender Jamie McMurray and Carl Edwards, winner of last week's Built Ford Tough 225 at Kentucky Speedway.

The situation brings to mind that of NASCAR Winston Cup legend W.C. (Junie) Donlavey, whose roster of drivers included the likes of David Pearson, Lee Roy Yarbrough, Dick Brooks, Charlie Glotzbach, Buddy Baker, Ernie Irvan and Ken Schrader.

In essence, Mittler is the Junie Donlavey of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series -- a title Mittler enjoys.

"We are very honored to be considered in the same light and have been fortunate to have helped several drivers move into NASCAR Winston Cup as Junie has done for so many years," said Mittler, whose current driver is David Stover, a nine-time go-kart champion from Tulsa, Okla. "Our ultimate goal, however, is to be the Richard Childress of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series."

Mittler's team, often self-sponsored, has enjoyed just one top-10 finish in the series -- Edwards finished eighth in 2002 at Kansas Speedway -- but has been able to give its drivers equipment capable of showing their potential.

"We approach each race with three goals -- qualify for the race, run the truck to the limit the setup will allow and finish the race," said Mittler.

Mittler isn't sure why he's been able to lure so many talented drivers to his truck, although he's been willing over the years to provide testing opportunities frequently lacking elsewhere to unproven competitors.

"I don't know that we have a magic formula or a specific philosophy for finding new drivers," he said. "We have been fortunate enough to have friends in the racing community who point out young new drivers to us."

Roper, McMurray and Edwards had one thing in common: each hailed from the "Show Me State."

Mittler is proud to have a Missourian -- or at least someone from a place nearby -- at the wheel of his truck.

"We attribute this to the friends we have come to know over the 30-plus years we have been involved in racing," he said.

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Ernie Irvan , Ken Schrader , Jamie McMurray , Carl Edwards , Buddy Baker , Charlie Glotzbach , David Pearson