WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.: It will be a busy weekend for ARCA Menards Series rookie Frankie Muniz and his Rette Jones Racing team.
First, the Mooresville, N.C.-based team treks to the Finger Lakes region of New York, set to do battle in the final road course race of the season in Friday afternoon’s General Tire 100 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
Two days later, Muniz will embrace his first ARCA race on dirt at the Illinois State Fairgrounds for the Dutch Boy 100.
Both races present an opportunity for the popular freshman driver and, more importantly, a chance to rebound from last Friday night’s performance at the Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, where the former Malcom in the Middle television actor struggled to find the perfect balance on the tight-quartered short track, leaving the No. 30 Rette Jones Racing team with an 11th place finish at the checkered flag.
Despite the disappointment of their Indianapolis showing, Muniz is recharged, returning to a road course and ready to tackle Watkins Glen for the first time in an ARCA car and improve on his sixth-place road course showing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last month.
“I have been ready to get back in the car since a few hours after we took the checkered flag at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park,” said Muniz. “Yes, the race didn’t go right, but I still learned a lot, and that performance will make me a better driver for the long haul.
“I am excited to return to a road course this weekend and the opportunity to turn lefts and rights as such an iconic track in New York. I expect the race to be extremely competitive, but I think we will make strong gains from the practice to qualifying and then the race that will allow us to contend for our second top-five finish of the season.”
Watkins Glen does open the door for Muniz and his Mark Rette-led team to pull off an upset and score their first ARCA Menards Series win together. Still, the Scottsdale, Ariz. native also knows everything will have to line up perfectly to pave that way to Victory Lane.
“The road courses have been races that I have circled as opportunities for our No. 30 Rette Jones Racing team to go out and not only challenge for a top-five but contend for the win,” added Muniz. “We had a lot of good speed at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course but didn’t have the track position we needed to capitalize.
“There’s so much race experience you inhale – what works and does not work with these ARCA cars. I feel a bit more confident heading to Watkins Glen.”
Muniz plans to go with the flow as far as his inaugural debut on dirt.
“The dirt races will probably be my biggest learning curve of the 2023 season,” he admitted. “I’m not sure what to expect. We don’t have much practice time either for me to get comfortable, so I need to stay positive and let the race come to us.
“We just need to improve from the moment we unload to the checkered flag and then apply what I learned to DuQuoin in a few weeks. We’re at that busy stretch of the ARCA season, but I’m happy to embrace all these different types of tracks and improve my craft.”
For the first time this season, Muniz and Rette Jones Racing will display the AvAir colors for the 13th ARCA Menards Series race of the season at Watkins Glen.
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“I’m very excited and honored to bring a new marketing partner to the ARCA Menards Series in AvAir,” added Muniz. “AvAir is a global leader, and we are putting them on a national stage on Friday night to bring attentiveness to a great company whose strategies and reputation speak for themselves.
“The car looks great and I’m ready to wheel our No. 30 AvAir Ford Mustang.”
Former ARCA championship-winning crew chief and co-owner Mark Rette has been highly impressed with Muniz’s performances in the first 12 races of the year. He looks forward to seeing him strengthen his craft in his Watkins Glen debut on Friday afternoon.
“We all feel good about heading to a track where we know Frankie will feel comfortable,” offered Rette. “I think the track layout will fit into Frankie’s wheelhouse and he will have the opportunity to showcase his road racing skills and put our No. 30 AvAir Ford Mustang at the front of the field.
“Sunday’s race on the dirt will be a tough learning curve for Frankie, but I think he will be fine. We don’t expect him to set the world on fire. We want him to be smooth and consistent. If we can do that, we should come out with a strong finish and a good outlook to DuQuoin on Labor Day weekend.”
Entering Watkins Glen, Muniz sits second in the ARCA Menards Series championship standings, 98 markers behind championship leader Jesse Love with eight races remaining.
Rette Jones Racing stands a respectable fifth in the ARCA Menards Series championship owner standings.
Since 2023, Muniz has 12 ARCA Menards Series starts to his credit, with a career-best finish of fifth at Michigan International Speedway in August 2023. In all, Muniz has delivered one top-five and eight top-10 finishes overall. He also maintains an average finishing position of 9.5 in his inaugural year of stock car competition.
The General Tire 100 (41 laps | 100.45 miles) is the 13th of 20 races on the 2023 ARCA Menards Series schedule in the 71st consecutive ARCA season. Practice begins Friday, August 18 from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. General Tire pole qualifying in a timed session will begin a short time later at 4:15 p.m. The race is set to take the green flag later in the day shortly after 6:00 p.m. ET. The event will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), while also streaming on FloRacing. The Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM Satellite Radio (XM channel 391 | online channel 981) will handle the radio waves. ARCARacing.com will also stream live timing and scoring throughout the entire weekend festivities.
The Dutch Boy 100 (100 laps | 100 miles) is the 14th of 20 races on the 2023 ARCA Menards Series schedule in the 71st consecutive ARCA season. Practice begins Sunday, August 20 from 10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. General Tire pole qualifying will begin a short time later at 11:15 a.m. The race is set to take the green flag later in the day shortly after 1:00 p.m. (2:00 p.m. ET). The event will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), while also streaming on FloRacing. ARCARacing.com will also stream live timing and scoring throughout the entire weekend festivities.