Photos by __ and Ryan Roberts Photography
By: Lucas Halbert - Grassroots Racing News
Greenwood, Indiana (2/17/2022)... If you told Greenwood, Indiana, native Brayton Laster two months ago he would be making his ARCA Menards Series debut this weekend at Daytona International Speedway, he would probably tell you were crazy.
Last year in late December, Laster was doing what any nineteen-year-old kid does, scrolling through TikTok watching video after video. Laster happened to come across ARCA Menards Series team owners Willie and Dinah Mullins TikTok accounts and gave them a follow. He soon noticed the team was looking for drivers to take to Daytona for the annual ARCA test in January.
Brayton quickly reached out to the Mullins to see if the opportunity to hop in the Mullins Racing #3 for practice was still open, sure enough, it was. Before he knew it, Laster was speeding around the two-and-a-half-mile, high-banked Daytona International Speedway. Brayton clocked in 35th quick of 64 drivers who participated in the test. Not too shabby for a rookie who had never raced on a track bigger than a half mile.
Laster said Daytona was "Absolutely unlike anything I could've prepared for." From racing in a pack and drafting for the first time to hitting the thirty-one degree banking in the turns' Brayton's experience was one he had never felt. "The first time I went into the corner at speed it shocked me at how many g-forces were pulling me. It felt like it threw my entire body into the passenger floorboard."
Practicing is one thing, and racing is another. While Laster has raced competitively in everything from a school bus to a Super Late Model, no race he has participated in so far compares to what he will face this Saturday. The longest race Brayton has ever competed in was a sixty-lapper at Richmond Raceway in Kentucky with the Southern All Star dirt late models; that race was nineteen and a half miles in length. Before him now is eighty laps and two-hundred miles in the Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire. Ten times farther than any race before.
Even though Laster believes enduring two-hundred miles at 180 MPH will be the most challenging thing he has ever done, he feels fairly calm about Saturday's afternoon race. The past three times the car he will be in raced at Daytona, it finished eighth, second, and eighth. Brayton says, "It just matters if the driver is worth anything. We just want to go out there and survive till the last twenty-five laps, and then we can really drop the hammer."
Make sure to tune into FOX Sports 1 at 1:30 P.M. (ET) on Saturday, February 19th to watch Brayton Laster make his ARCA Menards Series debut in the Mullins Racing #03 at Daytona International Speedway.
If you would like to learn more about Brayton and keep up with his career you can do so at braytonlaster.com, or on Facebook at his page Brayton Later Motorsports.