Portrait: Jimmy Mullis – A miracle run

Portrait: Jimmy Mullis – A miracle run

Jimmy Mullis is on track to do what seemed impossible a few weeks ago. A run for the championship.

Photo Credit: Jimmy Mullis/Justin Lisonbee

“Do me a favor. Don’t tell me anything,” says 2020 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series driver Jimmy Mullis to his Crew chief Taylor Hurst. “I know you will keep track of everything, but it’s best if I don’t know anything.” It’s the decider at Talladega. If Jimmy gets a good finish, it could mean a playoff spot for him. After a season of misfortune and mediocre finishes, it would be close to a miracle.

Last round saw him winning a turbulent race at Las Vegas Motorspeedway. A big moment. It means he is 15 points shy of continuing the hunt for $100,000 and, more importantly for him, the championship. 15 points could make the difference between Jimmy watching the playoffs on YouTube and participating in them.

“I understand. I think so too,” Taylor says to Jimmy. “It’s going to be tough, but I know you can do it.” Taylor knows it’s Jimmy’s year. After so much work from the team and everyone around them, it just wouldn’t be fair to rob them of the opportunity. Especially after Jimmy just narrowly missed the final last year.

Taylor Hurst is Jimmy’s crew chief and friend. They have been working together for close to five years and went through the sim racing world’s thick and thin. They started in the eNASCAR Pro Series and made it all the way to the main one, the eNASCAR Coca Cola iRacing Series. But their friendship isn’t solely virtual. They also spend time together in the real world, as they live only an hour apart.

“Just focus on yourself. You do your thing, and the rest will come with that,” Taylor comforts him. He knows Jimmy is nervous, but who wouldn’t be? This one is for all the marbles. Taylor remembers the times this season, where he sat in front of his screen, hammering in the numbers to figure out why the car isn’t working the way it should. It was aggravating, but it paid off. “We are ready to go, Jimmy.” said Taylor.

Staying out of his head

“It’s game time” and Jimmy is zoomed into the race. Nothing else matters. It’s just him and his car. He is most likely racing Ray Alfalla for the last playoff spot, and he sets off. The first part of the race is very timid. Not a single caution or incident along the way, and Jimmy is running well. But he doesn’t know how well. The lifelong NASCAR fan has told his staff, friends, and family not to tell him anything during the race.

A critical moment was an incident that involved the car with the number 99. The man in that car is Logan Clampitt, who claimed seventh place at that time. But the accident left him unable to compete for a good position in the race. That opened the door for Jimmy. That was his chance. At this time, Jimmy thought:

“I didn’t know what was going on, but once I knew that he had been put a lap down and that he was involved in the caution, I knew I was in a good spot. From calculating where everyone was in my head. I had an idea I would get it, if I just kept doing what I was doing.”

Sparks are flying through Jimmy’s head as the 99 car falls back. This moment is everything he has been working for. Pedal to the metal, and let’s go. Nothing changes; everything is the same.

The pressure is on, but Jimmy will not to fumble. Jimmy is going to do it. He is running in the top 10 by the end of the race. Most of the other contenders are in the midpack to secure a safe spot.

The final lap starts, and thoughts of the playoffs cross Jimmy’s mind for a second. What if, for some reason, it’s not enough? But only for a second. Then Jimmy is all focused again. Only a couple of hundred meters and he thinks of the times he has seen this exact scene on TV. Focus again. He can see the chequered flag. Only a few meters. Then: silence. Jimmy takes a deep breath. That should be it. He already knows what’s next, but hearing it is extra sweet.

“You have done it! ” Taylor screams into his mic as he joins the call. “I knew it! I damn knew it!” Jimmy’s telephone explodes with texts. Lots of people congratulate him. It was what he needed after such a disappointing season last time, missing the final by a small margin. It is truly the miracle run he deserved.

It speaks to the character of Jimmy that the first thing he did was to congratulate his team on Twitter: That’s why people love him. Jimmy Mullis is a great guy with the heart of a champion. After what looked to be a dammed season, he is back to chase greatness once more. One can only hope that Jimmy’s efforts are rewarded as he heads into the playoffs’ last round.

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