In his 14 career starts across the ARCA Menards Series, there is only one venue where Connor Mosack has raced more than once – Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The 24-year-old racer will make his third ARCA start at the 1.5-mile oval this Saturday in the Dawn 150 (1 p.m. CDT/2 p.m. EDT live on FS1).
Mosack finished 11th in his debut at the track on Oct. 23, 2021 and bettered that performance considerably with a fifth-place drive last May. His third start may very well be the charm, as his experience comes packaged with powerhouse Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR).
“When I went to Kansas for my second race there last year, it was my first time going back to a track for the second time, and just the comfort and confidence I had from being there once before and kind of knowing what to expect was certainly helpful,” Mosack said. “You learn more because it’s not information overload like it is the first time. You can dive into more specifics.
“That’s one of the biggest advantages of being with Joe Gibbs Racing. Just going to the shop and seeing all the resources they have – the technology, the engineering, the people – it makes a huge difference when you get to the racetrack. Matt Ross is a great crew chief and I really enjoy working with him, and then all of the sim time we get with Toyota is incredibly helpful.”
Mosack made his JGR debut earlier this year in the ARCA season opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. He promptly put the No. 18 Mobil 1 Toyota Camry on the pole and then led 25 laps en route to a strong second-place finish. Saturday’s race at Kansas will be just his second start with JGR.
“I feel like we’ve done everything in ARCA but win, and now I think we’ll have a really good shot at Kansas,” said Mosack, who has 10 top-10 finishes in ARCA. “It’ll be my first downforce-track race with JGR. That’s where their cars are really strong, and it’ll be my third time at Kansas.
“When I ran there last year with Bret Holmes, I feel like we got our car really fast at the end of the race, it just took us a while to get there. But I know we can be fast around there. I learned some things when it came to passing as the tires fell off, so hopefully that will apply and it’ll pay off this weekend.”
Mosack’s second-place finish at Daytona equaled his previous best ARCA result. The Daytona result, however, was his best ARCA finish on an oval. Mosack finished second last June on the road course at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway and third the following week on the oval at Iowa Speedway in Newton.
“We had the fastest car at Daytona, and that was my first time having that kind of up-front experience in an ARCA race,” Mosack said. “There’s definitely a different mindset going into it when you know you have a fast car or when you have the lead.
“That’s something I experienced in Trans Am. The first year, I didn’t lead a whole lot, but I was still running near the front, and then last year we were able to lead a lot of laps. That’s when you really learn how to manage the whole race with the fastest car. It’s still very easy to make a mistake and give away the win, but if you do everything right and you don’t make a mistake, then you should win the race. It’s up to you to keep everything under control.”
That wisdom has come at an accelerated rate.
Mosack didn’t start racing until he was 18, bucking the trend of drivers who begin their careers at age four or five in go-karts. Instead, the Charlotte-native enjoyed a well-rounded and worldly childhood. He played football and lacrosse in middle school and high school, and volunteered with Open Eyes on a mission trip to Rwanda and Uganda in 2017. It wasn’t until his senior year in high school that Mosack was introduced to Legends cars. As soon as he sat behind the wheel, Mosack knew it was where he belonged. After winning five Legends car championships, Mosack transitioned to Late Model stock cars in 2019. He ran the full CARS Tour in 2020 and promptly won its rookie-of-the-year title. He then augmented his Late Model schedule that year with four SCCA Trans Am Series races before committing to the full TA2 schedule in 2021 and 2022. In those two seasons with TeamSLR, Mosack never finished outside of the top-four in the championship standings, scoring two wins and earning five poles. All the while, Mosack balanced racing with school, graduating from High Point (N.C.) University in 2021 with a degree in business entrepreneurship.
It’s all racing, all the time in 2023. Mosack has a 23-race schedule in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – 20 races with Sam Hunt Racing and three with JGR. Kansas is the second of his six-race ARCA slate with JGR, and Mosack has already returned to Trans Am, racing in the season opener back in February, along with numerous Late Model races. When the 2023 racing season concludes, Mosack will have competed in more than 40 races.
“I’ve learned the more seat time you can get, the more you learn and the faster you learn,” Mosack said. “This is the most racing I’ve ever done in a single season. It’s what I want and NASCAR is where I want to be.”
Kansas is the kind of track that can yield a wealth of knowledge to drivers like Mosack because its weathered asphalt provides options. While the middle to the top of the racetrack are the preferred grooves, its wide, sweeping layout allows drivers to find ways to make their cars work for them.
“There’s a good amount of tire fall-off at Kansas, so as the run goes on, you definitely have to manage your tires and start moving around,” Mosack said. “It’s a track that’s pretty wide and with the ARCA car, it really opens up the track.
“Generally, we’ll start at the bottom, and that’s probably where we’ll be for qualifying and a good amount of the race. But depending on the weather and a few other things, I think as the run goes on, we’ll all move up the track.
“The first year I ran there, it really moved up, and then last year it kind of stayed in the middle. You never really know what to expect at Kansas as far as where you’re going to need to be to run fast. It’s going to require being on top of your adjustments and being ahead of what the track is doing.”
With resources from JGR, Mosack believes his familiarity with Kansas can fuel success.
“The pressure’s definitely on,” Mosack said. “You know you have the ability to do it. This is where experience and preparation meets opportunity.”