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- The battle for the will begin at again. Race organizers announced on Tuesday that ARCA drivers and teams would meet fans in the park's Aircraft Pavilion on March 20, two days before the race at .
, ARCA teams parked their cars inside the Aircraft Pavilion along with the ARCA Racing Series hauler, and drivers signed autographs for fans. The free event will follow that format for the 2014 race, with the cars and haulers on display from 4 to 6 p.m. and the drivers signing autographs from 5 to 6 p.m. March 20.
"This is where we started the race last year," race promoter Tommy Praytor said. "The fans loved it. The drivers loved it. The ARCA teams loved it. It was the first time we'd done it, and it went off without a hitch thanks to (park Executive Director) Bill Tunnell and his staff. There was only one mistake, and Bill has taken care of that."
The "mistake" was the park closed before the ARCA event was finished, which meant the drivers and their teams along with visiting fans couldn't tour the USS Alabama afterward. Tunnell said the park would have extended hours on March 20 for the event.
"We are delighted to be involved again," Tunnell said.
After the event, crews will load the cars back on the haulers, and Mobile County Sheriff's deputies will lead the rigs from the Causeway to the race track in a hauler parade.
Praytor said ARCA officials were so impressed with the first event at Battleship Park, they were going to allow the teams to sign in for the race during the Thursday event next season instead of having to wait until Friday morning to do so at the track - a rare change in procedure.
"The ARCA Mobile 200 has not only put Mobile on the racing map," said ARCA President Ron Drager in a press release, "but it has rapidly become one of the most anticipated stops on the ARCA Series tour. Our teams, our fans and officials have made Mobile a must-attend destination on the tour based on the region's attractions and the Southern hospitality we receive during race week.
"Visiting the USS Alabama is a great opportunity for the series to pay respect to our U.S. Armed Forces while expanding our growing fan base along the Gulf Coast. This event has been so well-received by our competitors that we will pre-register drivers and crews at the battleship on Thursday night."
The third ARCA Mobile 200 is scheduled for 2 p.m. March 22 at Mobile International Speedway, a one-half-mile, high-banked oval in Irvington. For the third consecutive year, the ARCA Mobile 200 will be the second race of the ARCA season, following the annual season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway.
Despite drawing a national field, the ARCA Mobile 200 has had a local flavor in Victory Lane. The was won by Mobilian, who was a regular on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at the time. The was , and the ARCA Mobile 200 was one of two events won by the Fairhope driver on the circuit this year.
Ticket-holders for the 2013 race can renew their tickets for the 2014 race through Dec. 9 by calling 251-343-2929 or visiting the ARCA Mobile 200 ticket office at 4742-C Airport Blvd. in Mobile.
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