If you squint and look toward the back of the starting grid, you’ll see there still is a place for the little guy in NASCAR.
It’s where Stan Mullis lined up for Sunday’s Xfinity Race at Iowa Speedway.
The Las Vegas businessman started 38th and finished 33rd. He still was running at the finish despite clutch and electrical problems, which sometimes develop when one drives for a team so strapped for cash that it once brought a marijuana sponsorship to the track.
“Old enough to know better,” Mullis said when asked his age and why he continues to pursue his NASCAR dream with the underfinanced Motorsports Business Management team headed by former fellow part-time racer Carl Long.
Mullis is 48, and he almost won last year’s Super Late Models championship at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring. His business success — he owns a vacation timeshare company called TLC Resorts — allowed him to write a check to run at Iowa last year and last weekend.
He hopes sponsors such as Las Vegas.net, which was on the No. 66 car in Iowa, might lead to additional rides now that he has been cleared to run at the 1.5-mile tracks such as Las Vegas in his adopted hometown and Charlotte, North Carolina, where he grew up.
“Carl Long is trying to eke out a living — it costs him $35,000 just to show up at a racetrack,” Mullis said. “He has to run two cars to make it work.”
For as “little” as $15,000, you can do business on the hood of one of the MBM cars, Mullis said, and he will provide hospitality in an RV rig for you and up to five of your business associates (or beer-drinking buddies).
“It’s a pretty big thrill,” he said about an older lion competing among young lions. “When you’re racing (against) a (Team) Penske car, it’s a real eye-opener.”
Mullis said his reputation among Xfinity drivers is as nondescript as the few sponsor patches on his fire suit. But when he was behind the wall at Iowa waiting for the clutch and battery repairs, one of the whippersnappers whose race was run handed him a couple of bottles of cold water on a hot and humid afternoon.
That made Stan Mullis feel good in more ways than one.
Green, white, checkered
— Riley Herbst’s Xfinity Series debut was a success, as the Las Vegas teenager drove the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to a sixth-place finish at Iowa Speedway despite being penalized for speeding in the pits. Herbst is set to make his Truck Series debut this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.
— Advance Auto Parts (@AdvanceAuto) June 20, 2018
— NASCAR people still are talking about Noah Gragson’s audacious last-lap dive inside of Truck Series race winner Brett Moffitt last weekend. The Las Vegas youngster briefly took the lead before swiping the wall and settling for second place at Iowa Speedway. The official Truck Series Twitter account summed it thusly: “Thank you for the show @NoahGragson! Incredible.”
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 17, 2018
— At the Bullring: Kayli Barker held off six-time track champion Scott Gafforini to become the first woman to win a NASCAR Super Late Models race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the Chris Trickle Classic. Next up: Night of Fire, July 3. Super Late Models (76 laps) plus Figure 8 Trailer Race, fireworks. Tickets and information: LVMS.com, 800-644-4444.
It was an historic night at The Bullring for @KayliBarker, who became the first female driver to win a NASCAR Super Late Models race at the LVMS short track! The 20-year-old held off 6-time track champ Scott Gafforini for the big win! https://t.co/txX50k4OdF @NASCARHomeTrack pic.twitter.com/LAy4mce8WI
— Las Vegas Motor Speedway (@LVMotorSpeedway) June 17, 2018
NASCAR Monster Energy Cup
What: Toyota/Save Mart 350.
When: Saturday, qualifying, 11:45 a.m. (FS1). Sunday, race, noon (FS1).
Where: Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma, Calif.
Defending champion: Kevin Harvick.
NASCAR Camping World Truck
What: Eaton 200.
When: Saturday, qualifying, 2:45 p.m.; race, 5:30 p.m. (FS1).
Where: Gateway Motorsports Park, Madison, Ill.
Defending champion: John Hunter Nemechek.
What: Kohler Grand Prix.
When: Saturday, qualifying, noon (NBCSN). Sunday, race, 10 a.m. (NBCSN).
Where: Road America (oval, 4.01 miles), Elkhart Lake, Wis.
Defending champion: Scott Dixon.
What: French Grand Prix.
When: Saturday, qualifying, 7 a.m. (ESPNEWS). Sunday, race, 7 p.m. (ESPN2).
Where: Paul Ricard Circuit, Le Castellet, France.
Defending champion: First race at Paul Ricard since 1990.
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing
What: Summit Racing Equipment Nationals.
When: Sunday, finals, 12:50 p.m. (3:30 p.m., FS1, taped).
Where: Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, Norwalk, Ohio.
Defending champions: Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Bo Butner (Pro Stock), LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle).