Ali Kern is about to make another move in her racing career — and she’ll make that move just a few miles away from her hometown.
The 19-year-old Fremont resident is one of more than four dozen drivers registered for Saturday’s 7-Up 150, the season opener at Toledo Speedway. She’ll be part of a field that includes professional drivers, two defending Toledo Speedway champions, and one of ARCA’s two points leaders.
Kern finished 10th last season in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars points standings and now makes the jump to the ARCA CRA Super Series. Last weekend’s ARCA CRA Super Series race at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway was rained out, so Kern is preparing to make her series debut at Toledo Speedway’s half-mile oval in a late-model car with more horsepower this year.
“We ran a few big races in the JEGS series last year, but I’m not familiar with Toledo Speedway’s track,” Kern said. “I’ve been there to watch different races and I’ve never gotten a chance to race there. We’re hoping to get prepared for it.”
For the first time, the Toledo race will combine drivers from the ARCA CRA Super Series and the ARCA Midwest Tour.
Last year, Toledo Speedway hosted two separate races in its season opener, the 100-lap CRA Super Series race and the 100-lap Gold Cup race.
Kern is one of the youngest drivers registered for the event and will be part of a field that includes Mason Mingus, an 18-year-old high school senior who is currently tied for the ARCA points lead (420) with nine-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel.
“I try to run some of the different late-model events throughout the year, just to get as much seat time as I can,” said Mingus, who finished seventh at the Lucas Oil 200 Feb. 16 at Daytona International Speedway and fourth at the ARCA Mobile 200 March 9 at Mobile International Speedway. “We like to hit some of the big races and this one in Toledo is going to be a huge one. I think it will be a good race to get into, and there’s going to be a lot of competition.”
Mingus, who lives in Brentwood, Tenn., is in his first season running a full ARCA schedule. He turned 18 in November, which allowed him to race on superspeedways —tracks that are at least two miles in length.
He said that he plans to drive in the Menards 200 on May 19 at Toledo Speedway, and hopes that competing at Toledo Speedway will give him a certain edge for next month’s race.
“We’re not just there to run the race,” Mingus said of the 7-Up 150. “We’re there to win it.”
The official entry list will be published today for Saturday’s race, and race organizers confirmed this week that Brian Campbell and Johnny VanDoorn, who won last year’s CRA Super Series and Gold Cup races at Toledo Speedway, are among the entries for the 7-Up 150.
“It’s a really tough field, with 48 cars pre-registered,” Kern said. “There’s not one of those cars that will be slacking. People that are there, they’re there to win the race. I hope everyone can get their stuff dialed in.”
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: email@example.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.