February 12, 2021
ARCA @ Daytona
This weekend the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards kicks off their season at the high banks of Daytona International Speedway, in Daytona Beach, Florida. This will be the 57th running of the ARCA Menards Series at Daytona, dating back to the first time the event ran in 1964 where Nelson Stacy took home the checkered flag. Over the years the race has had many winners that have gone on to being some of the biggest names in NASCAR including Kyle Petty, Tim Richmond, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, and up-and-coming Xfinity star Harrison Burton.
This year’s running has a stacked entry list of its own including Corey Heim, Drew Dollar, Tanner Gray, Ty Gibbs, and Thad Moffitt. Also on the entry list is the former runner-up of the 2018 running of the event, Willie Mullins. Mullins is excited to get back to the World Center of Stock Car racing, where that runner up showing is his career-best finish. Mullins said that finishing anywhere out of the top five is a disappointment, having always run well at Daytona he has high expectations with hopes to win. With the wildness that Daytona is, he plans to stay in the back of the pack most of the race, allowing the field to sort itself out during the race while hoping to avoid the inevitable “Big One”. He said that is the most successful strategy with their team, with it working out to give him his runner-up result. Mullins drives for his self-owned team, this year driving a brand new car from GMS Racing, with sponsorship from Crawford Sprinkler Company and Corvetteparts.net. With being a single-car team, Daytona can often be difficult with the nature of the track and needing drafting partners. To combat that, Mullins said he plans to use about the first two-thirds of the race to try to get comfortable with the other competitors to make friends and have a dancing partner come go time. Mullins said unlike what we hear with the NASCAR Cup Series, there are not any manufacturer orders given to the drivers, so it’s a free for all to go win, making it even more important for a small team to have allies. Mullins is excited for the season ahead, hoping to run his normal four or five-race season, depending on his work, owning an Auto Repair shop in his hometown of Fredericksburg, Virginia. He races when he can, including this past weekend in the ARCA Menards East Series race at New Smyrna Speedway, where he took home a top ten result, finishing in 10th.
Another driver who is entered into this year’s event is the 2019 ARCA CRA Super Series champion, Greg Van Alst out of Anderson, Indiana. Van Alst is no stranger to ARCA competition, being a former competitor back in 2002 driving for Locke Bros. Racing. But as things changed Van Alst found himself on a path through super late models, leading to the 2019 season championship. Van Alst is going to the beach with high hopes saying “ (The) Goal for the race is a strong finish. Not sure I have a position in mind. We went from just going to be there to having a legitimate shot to run good.” He also stated that he is excited to be back in ARCA saying “ARCA is as close to the big stage as I may ever get. I had some opportunities when I was younger that just never blossomed. I went to work and have created my own opportunities. With help from (my sponsor) CB Fabricating of course!”. Van Alst is hoping for a multi-race season in the ARCA Menards series stating “We are hoping to run 7-10 races this year. Our equipment is limited at this time so I have to take care of it.”
If you are unable to make it to the track during Daytona Speedweeks be sure to catch Greg and Willie on Saturday, February 13th at 1:30 PM E.T. on Fox Sports One!
Photo: Greg Van Alst Facebook Page