CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When the season began, Connor Mosack’s racing schedule was his most aggressive since he began driving Legends Cars in 2017.
Twenty-three NASCAR Xfinity Series races augmented by a six-race slate of ARCA Menards Series races with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) were on tap for the 24-year-old from Charlotte, N.C.
For a driver who didn’t start racing competitively until he was 18, the 2023 calendar served notice that Mosack was committed to his racing career. More was indeed better, as the packed schedule gave Mosack the seat time needed to better bridge the gap between him and his similarly-aged counterparts — nearly all of whom began racing a decade or more before Mosack turned his first lap.
“It’s definitely been a learning experience,” said Mosack in the lead up to Friday night’s Sioux Chief Fast Track 150 ARCA race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. “I feel like I’ve got a decent feel for everything, but there are still some things in the Xfinity car that are different just because you’ve got way more cars in that series and those guys are so dialed in on where they need to be.
“I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on the ARCA races and where those cars need to be. In those first few races, it took me a little bit to get used to how much you have to lean on the air in those cars. You almost feel like you’re spinning out, but then the air will catch you, so it’s just kind of getting comfortable with how sideways you can get the car.”
The learning curve has been especially steep in the Xfinity Series — the stepping-stone division to the elite NASCAR Cup Series — but Mosack has still found success. After securing his first career top 10 with an eighth-place finish June 3 at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway, Mosack bettered that result with a fifth-place drive Aug. 19 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
In ARCA, Mosack has been a model of front-running consistency with a run of top-10 qualifying and race results going back to last season. Coming into Kansas, Mosack has qualified fifth or better in his last seven ARCA starts, a streak that began more than year ago at Watkins Glen when he qualified third.
When it comes to race finishes, Mosack is on a stretch of six straight top 10s, a run that dates back to last September at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Even more impressive is that in his last two races — July 21 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and Aug. 4 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn — he has finished second and third, respectively.
That Michigan race was bittersweet. Mosack was leading and well in command before a late caution sent the race into overtime. A frantic, green-white-checkered finish ultimately left him third.
“Michigan was the first race where I felt like we had the car to beat — by quite a bit, actually,” Mosack said. “We got the lead, we were poised to win, just had to turn a couple more laps, but then the caution came out and we had that last restart.
“ARCA has a different restart rule than in the other NASCAR series where you normally have a full restart box and the leader can fire off any time he wants. But after that race, I found out ARCA just has a restart line and there’s no box.
“That’s something I obviously should’ve known, so when I tried to go later than that line, that’s what got me. If the leader doesn’t fire by then, then anybody can go, and that’s what happened. We got our rear tires picked up. That’s something that won’t happen again.”
With that heartbreak in his rearview mirror, Mosack enters Kansas wiser than he was in May when he last competed at the 1.5-mile oval, finishing fourth in just his second ARCA start of the year.
“Kansas is one of the few places where I’ve run before, and I think every time you go, you get to add to your notebook,” Mosack said. “You have things you can look back on, especially having the race earlier this year with JGR and being able to go back with the same team. I know that sounds simple, but it really is a big deal.
“I don’t feel like Kansas was our strongest race, speed-wise, but I do feel like we’ve made a lot of progress as a team on the car, and just going back to the same track will help a lot.”
Since making his first ARCA start at Kansas with an 11th-place drive on Oct. 23, 2021, Mosack has improved his finishing position each time he has returned. He finished fifth in May 2022 and bettered that effort with a fourth-place result this past May.
“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 place that’s pretty wide, and with the ARCA car the track really opens up. You kind of start at the bottom of the racetrack and work your way up to the fence.”
The Sioux Chief Fast Track 150 will be Mosack’s 19th career ARCA start and his sixth of the season.
It culminates his 2023 campaign with JGR, but Mosack still has plenty of racing left. He is pulling double duty at Kansas, running the No. 24 Toyota GR Supra for Sam Hunt Racing in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race after driving his No. 18 Mobil 1 Toyota Camry for JGR in Friday night’s ARCA race.
“Running both the ARCA race and the Xfinity race on the same weekend gives me a lot of good experience, and I can apply a lot of it to the Xfinity race since it’s always after the ARCA race,” Mosack said. “I’ve run double duty at Charlotte and Pocono, and at both places it really helped me.
“The cars are a little bit different and it sometimes takes a lap to get used to the Xfinity car, but after that you kind of get back into the groove. The cars certainly do drive differently and there are things you can’t apply from the ARCA car, but there are a lot of things you can, from the line and where the grip is. All that stuff is important and it’s why I’m looking forward to Kansas.”
With a runner-up result and a near win in his last two ARCA starts, Mosack is eager to nab that coveted victory.
“We’ve been so close so many times that I think it’ll feel that much more special once we finally get it. We’ll know that we earned it,” Mosack said.