Leavine's First ARCA Start at Mobile to be Familiar
While everything continues to be new to Michael Leavine's development in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, Saturday night's Mobile ARCA 200 will bring a little familiarity to the 22-year-old driver.
The 200-lap race at the Mobile International Speedway is on a half-mile short track. Like everyone else in the series, the majority of Leavine's experience has come on short tracks.
"There are the basics that never change at short tracks," Leavine said. "You have to be aggressive, but you have to be smart. It's important to keep your fenders on the car, which is a tough balancing act, but it's no different at Mobile than when I raced on the local short tracks at Houston and Pensacola (Fla.)."
Leavine will be making the first of six scheduled starts of his season on Saturday for Leavine Family Racing's development program. He will be aboard the No. 95 WRL General Contractors Ford Fusion. Leavine is the grandson of team owner Sharon Leavine.
To get ready for the 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT start, the race teams spent two days practicing at the South Alabama track. They enlisted the help of veteran NASCAR truck racer Rick Crawford during the January test session, and he came away with a good impression of the driver and team.
"Michael put a lot of laps under his belt," Crawford said. "He did a nice job. He was smooth on the track. As a rookie, that should give him a lot of confidence for the race."
The Mobile ARCA 200 will be Leavine's fourth career start in the ARCA Racing Series. His career best finish was 20th at Iowa Speedway, and that should bode well for Leavine since it was a short track as well.
"We've been working a lot of hours getting ready for this weekend," the Bullard, Texas native said. "Now that it's finally time to make this dream a reality, I feel really good about our cars and our team. We're bringing a car that Greg Biffle used to drive and we've got a Roush Yates engine under the hood. We were careful and deliberate not to cut any corners."
Crew chief Michael "Grumpy" Cheek is excited to get racing after a busy offseason.
"The guys deserve a pat on the back," he said. "They've worked hard to get ready, and they're the ones who make this happen.
"Michael Leavine is a young talent. I am looking for him to progress throughout the season."
Leavine will practice Friday afternoon and qualify the car at 7 p.m.Central that night.
"We may be new to this, but short track racing isn't new to us," Leavine said. "This is going to be a big step in our development."