Michael Maples will run full time in both the ARCA Menards Series and ARCA Menards Series East for Fast Track Racing, he told Frontstretch.
“I’ve been racing dirt cars the past few years,” Maples told Frontstretch about his racing background. “In Oklahoma and Texas we only primarily have dirt tracks. There’s one asphalt track in Houston. It’s a change. I lived in California in 1992. In ’93 I started racing. I raced asphalt late model cars at Madera Speedway. I lived in California then moved back to Oklahoma and I started racing asphalt in Oklahoma. Then the tracks were shutting down, my son was getting older and I decided I needed to spend time coaching a being a dad.
“1998 was my last year racing until 2019. In 2019 I bought an IMCA Southern Sport Mod and I started racing it on dirt. When I moved back to Oklahoma, I wanted to race either ASA or ARCA. I’ve always liked the ARCA series. Some people from Texas raced ARCA. I always thought it seemed like a good series to travel.”
While Maples retained his desire to run ARCA over those years, his dream didn’t seem to be a possibility until 2023. Last year he attended a few ARCA races, including at Kansas Speedway. He then met Garrett and Fast Track team owner Andy Hillenburg. Although Maples just turned 60 years old in December, Hillenburg recognized Maples’ desire to compete in ARCA. Hillenburg invited Maples to run the ARCA preseason test at Daytona International Speedway with Fast Track. After completing some laps around the 2.5-mile superspeedway, Maples decided to make it official.
In preparation for his series debut, Maples bought two racecars from someone who bought them from Sarah and Bridget Burgess. The women ran those racecars in the ARCA Menards Series West. As such, both cars are for racing at short tracks. Maples then bought two cars from Garrett. One is a superspeedway racecar and the other is an intermediate.
Maples will fund much of his endeavor himself with Maples Motorsports on the hood. Don Ray Petroleum, Maples’ employer, also will serve as a sponsor. In addition, Maples has a few individuals who will help him contest his 23-race season.
“I’m looking forward to going to bucket list tracks,” he continued. “I’m excited about Daytona, Talladega Superspeedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. The car felt good at Daytona. I’m also really looking forward to the smaller tracks, ones I’ve not seen that much, not been to but seen on TV. Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola is a track that I’ve driven by several times. I’m excited about going there in the ARCA East race. And Phoenix Raceway and Bristol Motor Speedway are two others.”
The Oklahoma native, who has a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Research, repeatedly said he wants to be competitive on the racetrack.
“I’d like to be able to finish in the top 10 in points, be consistent with the racing, improve and learn,” he added. “I want to have fun too. If it is not fun, why would you spend the money to do it? I want to have good showings. All those things!”
Maples becomes the 10th driver to announce their intention to compete full time for the main series title, joining Amber Balcaen, Alex Clubb, Caleb Costner, Andres Perez de Lara, Christian Rose, Lavar Scott, Brad Smith, Kris Wright and recently-announced Greg Van Alst.
In 2023, FTR placed two drivers in the top 10 in the national series points with Garrett in fifth and Tim Monroe in 10th. Monroe also finished fifth in the East standings, one spot behind teammate Zachary Tinkle. Maples readily committed to competing in the East full time as well.
“The East series is just three additional races,” Maples noted. Of the eight races on the 2024 East schedule, five are combination races with the national series. “Andy thinks it would be good to do just to get more laps.”
Although Fast Track fielded a multitude of drivers at the Daytona test, Maples instantly knew he would enjoy driving for the team.
“They’re a good fit for me,” he noted. “They’re serious about their business but they’re also very respectful, nice and they like to have fun by joking around.”
About the author
Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the site's ARCA Menards Series editor. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud University of Dayton alum.
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