CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Baseball great Ernie Banks would definitely be a fan of Connor Mosack this weekend at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
Banks, the affable Hall of Famer who played for the Chicago Cubs is credited with the saying, “Let’s play two,” as he enjoyed the game so much that his serial belief was why play one game when you could play two? Mosack, a 24-year-old racer from Charlotte, North Carolina, will emulate Banks’ philosophy at Pocono by competing in the ARCA Menards Series race Friday and the NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday.
It’s not the first time Mosack has pulled double duty at a racetrack, but it will be his first time doing it with the same team. Mosack will drive the No. 18 Mobil 1 Toyota Camry in the Sunset Hill Shooting Range 150 ARCA race on Friday and the No. 19 Irwin Trad Strong Toyota GR Supra in the Pocono 225 Xfinity Series race on Saturday. Both cars will be fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing.
“Even though it’s two different cars in two different series, it’s all one team and everyone’s on the same page,” Mosack said. “Everyone shares information and works together, so if you learn something with one car, you can apply it to the other car. In fact, I’m using the same seat insert for both races. You wouldn’t be able to do that if you’re running with two different teams, at least not as easily.
“So, just down to little details like that, it all adds up for a seamless weekend, at least from a preparation standpoint.
“The only other race I’ve run double-duty this year has been Charlotte, where we ran the ARCA race Friday night for Gibbs, and it actually ended up being Monday night for the Xfinity race with Sam Hunt Racing. But I feel like it helped me. Even though the cars are a little bit different and it takes a lap or two to get used to the Xfinity car, you get back into the groove quickly,” Mosack continued.
“The cars 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 I think it’ll only help me.”
The Sunset Hill Shooting Range 150 will be Mosack’s 17th career ARCA start. He has 12 top-10 ARCA finishes and comes into Pocono on a run of four straight top-10s dating back to last September at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The Pocono 225 will serve as Mosack’s 14th career Xfinity Series start, but only his third with JGR.
“Running the same car for the same group of people is probably the best way to do it, if you can do it enough. But, unfortunately, we’re not able to run full-time in Xfinity, so it’s still better to add other races in other series than not race at all,” Mosack said.
“We’ve tried to pick the things that will help me the most, whether that’s learning the tracks I’m going to in Xfinity, or some cars that drive similarly that I can get some knowledge out of. Seat time is also really important, especially me having a little less experience, or a lot less experience than some of the guys in Xfinity, just trying to get as comfortable as I can behind the wheel and be able to learn and hone my racecraft.”
While still in the infancy of his racing career, Mosack does arrive at Pocono with experience. He competed in last year’s ARCA race, starting seventh and finishing sixth, leading twice for five laps around the 2.5-mile triangle.
“I like Pocono. It kind of feels like a road course to me, which I think suits my style a little bit better,” said Mosack, who spent 2021 and 2022 in the TA2 division of the Trans Am Series, scoring two wins and earning five poles and never finishing outside of the top-four in the championship standings.
“Turn one is a little bit more of a traditional oval corner, but certainly turns two and three feel more like a road course,” Mosack said. “Turn two is a high-commitment, high-speed corner, which is really one of my favorite kinds of corners anywhere we go, and then turn three is just a flat, sweeping corner where the exit is super important. I feel like those two corners especially suit my style, and then I just have to maintain through turn one.”
That Mosack likes turn two – more commonly referred to as the Tunnel Turn – and relishes its challenge speaks volumes about how far he has come in such a short period of time.
Mosack didn’t start racing until he was 18, bucking the trend of drivers who begin their careers at age 4 or 5 in go-karts. Instead, he enjoyed a well-rounded and worldly childhood. He played football and lacrosse in middle school and high school, and volunteered with the charitable organization 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 Legend Cars. As soon as he sat behind the wheel, Mosack knew it was where he belonged.
After winning five Legend Car championships, Mosack transitioned to late model stock cars in 2019. Mosack ran the full CARS Late Model Stock Tour in 2020 and promptly won its rookie of the year title. He then augmented his late model schedule that year with four Trans Am races before committing to the full TA2 schedule in 2021 and 2022.
“The Tunnel Turn is still an intimidating corner, for sure, especially because it’s bumpy at the bottom and it can get your car upset. But I feel like it wasn’t anything too crazy,” Mosack said. “It felt pretty comfortable there. It can get a little hairy on restarts trying to get in there side-by-side, but otherwise, running by myself, it’s a fun corner to run through.”
Prior to last year’s ARCA race at Pocono, Mosack took part in a five-hour open test. Even though he hasn’t been back to the aptly-named Tricky Triangle since last July, Mosack has logged plenty of laps in Toyota Racing Development’s simulator.
“I definitely feel more prepared going into Pocono this year, especially with having the race under my belt last year and all the sim time this year. So I feel like I’m as prepared as I can be for it being my second time around,” he said.
“I’ve talked to a bunch of people who have a lot more experience at Pocono just to pick up little tips and tricks, like running a lane off the wall going down the front straightaway to try to keep air off the car from packing against the wall.
“The biggest thing I hear from everybody is getting off (turn) three is the most important thing. You can kind of maintain through one, maintain through two, but turn three, getting off of that and being fast on that front straightaway is where you’re going to make lap time. Getting your car to turn well through there and being able to get off turn three is what your focus needs to be.”