Daytona Beach, FL (February 10, 2018) – After making three ARCA starts in 2017, Tony Mrakovich began the 2018 season on racing’s biggest stage in the No. 10 SMART Emissions Reducer by Extreme Energy Solutions Chevrolet, when he took the green flag for the Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire at the Daytona International Speedway. While electrical problems ended his evening early, Mrakovich gained valuable restrictor plate experience and positioned himself for a top-15 finish as the race neared completion.
The Elizabethtown, PA native qualified 35th in the Fast Track Racing Chevy. Mrakovich stayed in the back during the first quarter of the race, hoping to avoid early accidents while dealing with an overheating issue. The first caution waved on lap 28, giving the SMART Emissions Reducer team a chance to work on the car and Mrakovich the opportunity to rejoin the lead pack.
The 19-year old remained in the second half of the field until the next caution just past the halfway mark. The No.10 Chevy was brought down pit road for service but when other competitors made a second stop to top-off the fuel tank, Mrakovich and team stayed out to gain valuable track position.
The pit road strategy paid off as Mrakovich restarted in 20th, his highest position in the running order to that point. In fact, the race was going exactly as planned as the young driver looked like veteran when he charged to the front during the next ten laps, dodging trouble along the way. With 16 laps remaining, a multi-car wreck happened just in front of Mrakovich, one that he saw developing and prepared for accordingly.
“On the lap before, the cars in front of me were bunched up” he recalled. “They were three wide and I saw them get together. My spotter told me to go low and I stayed in the gas so I wouldn’t get hit from behind, diving onto the apron and hoping I wouldn’t break the splitter. We made it!”
With nine laps remaining, Mrakovich, who was still keeping an eye on the temperature gauge, restarted 14th. Unfortunately, disaster struck shortly after the race resumed when an electrical failure shut the car down. While trying to get out of the way of oncoming competitors and without power steering, Mrakovich made slight contact with the No. 15 car of Michael Self and eventually the wall before coming to a stop on the apron.
“I was moving down the track to pick up the bottom line and everything suddenly went dark and the car shut off” explained Mrakovich. “I tried to get out of the way by going high but had no idea the 15 was there.”
The issue was terminal and the team was forced to retire the car, finishing 29th, 20 laps off of the extended 92-lap event.
Michael Self won the race which went into overtime following two late race red flags due to multi-car incidents. Willie Mullins, Sheldon Creed, Tom Hessert and pole-sitter Natalie Decker rounded out the top-five.
While the finish was not what the Mrakovich was hoping for in his Daytona debut, he gained valuable experience running a restrictor plate event. “Plate racing is exciting to watch as a fan but as a driver, it can get irritating when you are running wide open and still getting left behind if you don’t time the draft just right. There is a fine technique and skill to drafting, it’s not just about getting behind a car and going fast.”
“I had a lot of fun out there and we almost pulled off another top 10 finish.” Mrakovich continued. “I’d like to thank Extreme Energy Solutions and Fast Track Racing for the opportunity and I look forward to racing with them again.”
“Smart Emissions Reducer by Extreme Energy Solutions Inc., is proud of the effort made by Tony Mrakovich and the Fast Track Team led by Andy Hillenburg. Tony did a great job of keeping the #10 Smart Emissions Reducer/Extreme Energy Solutions/Mendia Studios Chevrolet out of the hazards and wrecks, and stayed competitive as a top-20 car most of the race. We are looking forward to partnering with Tony in future efforts on and off the track,” contributed Samuel K. Burlum, CEO/President, Extreme Energy Solutions, Inc, green tech company that offers Smart Emissions Reducer.
Mrakovich plans to run more ARCA races as well as some Xfinity events in 2018 pending sponsorship.