By Phil Whipple,
RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer. Photo By: Rachel Plant
FORNEY, Texas — With more and more eyes on race cars with fenders these days, it looks as if action in the IMCA Stock Car division will be as entertaining as anything we'll see in Factory Stock. In a class filled with savvy veterans and red-hot newcomers, going back-to-back with points titles is no easy task.
Yet for 29-year-old racer Dustin Mooney, that's the goal for 2021. Mooney won a hotly-contested IMCA crown at Cotton Bowl Speedway last year as a rookie, with an impressive 11 top-five finishes in 11 starts. This year, he's already run a few races as the new season hits full swing.
“I've raced a total of three times so far this year,” Mooney said. “I've been out once in the Modified, which I'm not driving any more, and twice in the Stock Car. At Heart O' Texas this past Friday night, I started at the back and finished sixth.
“At Cotton Bowl on Saturday, we won the Heat race but had a little bit of an overheating issue in the feature so I pulled off the track. It just wasn't our night.”
Just as it is in the rapidly expanding field of Factory Stocks, the level of competition in IMCA Stock Cars is on the rise. There are plenty of smart drivers with good cars and skilled mechanics.
“It seems like everybody is migrating over to some form of Stock car these days,” Mooney explained. “Whether it's Factory Stock or our class, people are showing up in numbers. It looks like the Mods are falling off a little, while the full-fendered classes explode. I'm sure the Mods will come back, though.
“I'm excited to see our classes making a comeback. We had a few years with some lean numbers, but there are lots of srong teams in the mix now. It forces us to get up on the wheel every lap. I want to see a 24-car field full of heavy-hitters, because that's how you get better. The talent out there is unreal.”
We've discussed the importance of having good equipment to compete in this class. Mooney has a fine piece under him on race nights.
“I run a Destroyer chassis that Chris Florio and I rebuilt over the winter,” Mooney said. “It's a great piece I am proud to have under me. As far as horsepower, I use Robins Performance Engines out of Lorena, Texas. They give me all the power I need.”
Jason Batt is one of the heavy-hitters in the IMCA Stock Car division. The skilled veteran says his pal Mooney is the real deal.
“He’s the quiet guy that lets his driving do the talking,” Batt said. “Here is a little story that sums up Dustin's values pretty nicely. Last year, he and I were competing against each other for the points title. I had wrecked one Friday night in Waco, and I was in a bind.
“As soon as Dustin got his car done on Saturday, he called and came over to help me get mine together to make sure I could race. That could have hurt his championship hopes, but at the end of the day, he would rather have the friend over a title.”
Along with his immense natural talent behind the wheel, Mooney also has a group of key individuals working behind the scenes to keep his race team on-track.
“I really need to thank Taylor Florio, Chris Florio, Traci Florio, my father and mother, Brent and Ruei Mooney; JD Hardcastle, Anthony Otken and Jason Batt,” Mooney said. “I truly appreciate all they do.”
To win a championship in a division as competitive as I-Stock at Cotton Bowl Speedway, it takes more than talent, a good car and good people. It also takes cubic dollars. Mooney is blessed with partners.
“I am very fortunate to have some great companies on board my race team, including Florio Racing Chassis, Dirt Defender Racing Products, Mid Tex Motorsports, Encore Solutions Group, Robins Performance Engines, Donnas Automotive & Restoration, CRS Suspension, The Touch Up Shop, Mooney’s Racing and Natemare Wraps. We couldn't compete at this level without their support.”
With action heating up on nearly every oval across the Great State of Texas, Mooney now sets his sights on that second consecutive points crown.
“I think another track championship would feel really nice,” he concluded. “But I don't want to predict that we can pull that off, or put so much pressure on ourselves that it takes all the fun out of it. I'm just going to race hard and have fun, and see where it takes me.
“As long as I can be out there with my family having a good time, that's all I really care about.”