Porter Pipe & Supply appearing on No. 19 of Connor Mosack at Chicago

Connor Mosack is not clairvoyant, but the 24-year-old racecar driver already knows what to expect when NASCAR hits the streets of downtown Chicago July 1-2 for the inaugural Chicago Street Race Weekend.

Mosack is the rare driver with previous street-course experience who is entered in The Loop 121 NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday.

“The one thing about a first-time venue is that it’s new for everybody, so everyone is on a pretty level playing field, but I do think that for once this year, I actually have a little bit of an edge because I’ve got some real-world, street-race experience,” said Mosack, an Xfinity Series rookie who will race for powerhouse Joe Gibbs Racing in The Loop 121. “That’ll help me get up to speed a little faster, and maybe help me in qualifying, but I also expect everyone to adapt pretty quickly. It’s going to level out as the day goes on and everyone gets more laps.”

Mosack’s street-course experience came in two starts in the TA2 division of the Trans Am Series at the Music City Grand Prix in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. He started second and led nine laps before finishing third in the inaugural event in 2021. In his return to Nashville in 2022, Mosack qualified fourth and grabbed the lead on the opening lap. He proceeded to lead the 39-car field for 26 laps before finishing second.

“We put together two good weekends there in Nashville,” Mosack said. “We were fast in practice both years, we qualified well both years, and both years we led laps and I feel like I made good passes for the lead and didn’t really make any mistakes leading under green.

“The first year, I definitely cost myself the win on the last restart – I don’t think I had my brakes where they needed to be. And the following year, nothing really happened, I just feel like we kind of lost our speed toward the end and I might’ve been taking care of the brakes too much when we got out front.

“It’s just so hard to get everything perfect to where you need it, and it’s easy to make a mistake. That’s probably the biggest thing – staying out of trouble. If you can do that and keep your car clean, you’ll be in good shape to make some moves at the end of the race.”

That valuable, real-world knowledge is what Mosack brings to Chicago and the temporary 2.2-mile, 12-turn street circuit that will host NASCAR for the first time with Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.

“The biggest takeaway from those street-course races at Nashville was just getting comfortable running up close to the walls,” Mosack said. “Scott Lagasse, who I drove for in Trans Am, told me that if your car had sideview mirrors on it, you want to scrape it on the outside wall turning in, scrape the inside one at the apex, and then scrape the outside one on exit. It’s about getting comfortable with those last few inches against the wall.

“That’s where the track’s going to have the most grip late in the race, where there’s a little less rubber to slide on. It’s also going to give you the most radius at the corner and allow you to carry the most speed. But, obviously, the more risks you take, the more likely you are to catch the fence at some point. If you catch the outside here and there, it’s probably not going to hurt you too bad, but clipping the inside could definitely send you too hard into the outside wall.”

In addition to street cred, Mosack brings Chicago-based Porter Pipe & Supply to The Loop 121 where he will drive the No. 19 Porter Pipe & Supply Toyota GR Supra. Porter Pipe & Supply is a third-generation, family-owned and operated wholesale supplier of commercial and industrial pipe, valves, fittings, plumbing supplies, HVAC and refrigeration equipment and mechanical products.

“Ever since the Chicago Street Race was announced, we’ve been more than curious, and now that it’s here, there’s a palpable sense of anticipation and excitement with our customers and within our company,” said Nick Porter, CEO, Porter Pipe & Supply. “We’re proud Chicagoans and this event brings a tremendous amount of pride. It’s an incredibly unique way for us to take care of our customers in our hometown. Seeing the Porter Pipe & Supply car in a NASCAR race will be another milestone moment for our family-owned company.”

Mosack brokered the partnership with Porter Pipe & Supply, putting his degree in business entrepreneurship from High Point (N.C.) University to good use.

“I’m incredibly honored to partner with Porter Pipe & Supply for the Chicago Street Race. Our Toyota GR Supra looks great,” Mosack said. “I’ve gotten to know Nick Porter fairly well through this process and I’m looking forward to meeting all their people. We visit their headquarters on Thursday and they’ve got a lot of people coming to the track on Saturday and Sunday. They’re all pumped, just as we are. It’s going to be a great event and we aim to give ‘em something they can really cheer about.”

If it feels like Mosack works as fast as he drives, it’s because he does. The Charlotte, North Carolina-native is on a condensed schedule.

Mosack didn’t start racing until he was 18, bucking the trend of drivers who begin their careers at age four or five in go-karts. Instead, he enjoyed a well-rounded and worldly childhood. He played football and lacrosse in middle school and high school, and volunteered with the charitable organization Open Eyes on a mission trip to Rwanda and Uganda in 2017. It wasn’t until his senior year in high school that Mosack was introduced to Legend Cars. As soon as he sat behind the wheel, Mosack knew it was where he belonged. After winning five Legend Car championships, Mosack transitioned to Late Model stock cars in 2019.

Mosack ran the full CARS Late Model Stock Tour in 2020 and promptly won its rookie-of-the-year title. He then augmented his Late Model schedule that year with four Trans Am races before committing to the full TA2 schedule in 2021 and 2022. In those two seasons driving for TeamSLR, Mosack never finished outside of the top-four in the championship standings, scoring two wins and earning five poles.

“I learned a ton racing in Trans Am with TeamSLR, especially in terms of racecraft – when you can take advantage of opportunities and when you need to save yourself, and also just how to make better lap times,” Mosack said. “The learning curve was steep, but that made our success all the more rewarding.”

That success is ready to be rewarded again at Chicago, with a layout that includes Michigan Avenue and South Lake Shore Drive.

“NASCAR did a really good job with the layout, especially when you’re running by yourself. It’s a fun track to run laps on,” Mosack said. “The straightaways are wide, or at least not narrow, but some of the corners definitely narrow up and we’ll probably only be able to run single-file through there in the race. So, I think a couple of those corners will be tough.

“Turn four, that’s probably the fastest section of the track. It’s like a medium-speed corner, but it’s also pretty rough, so if you carry a little too much speed, you definitely can get to bouncing over the bumps and lose control of the front end and hit the wall on the outside pretty easily, and if that happens, it might block the track for the cars behind. I see that as probably the biggest trouble spot for somebody.

“And if someone’s making a pass on you in a few corners, I think you almost have to let them go. It’s going to be tough to race them through the corner with how narrow some of them are. Those are the places where people will probably get themselves in trouble.”

Even when there isn’t a NASCAR race, defensive driving in Chicago is a necessity. However, unlike regular city driving, Mosack and his Xfinity Series counterparts will also be on offense.

“I think the best passing opportunity is turn six, coming off the back straightaway,” Mosack said. “That’s probably your best chance just because it’s a longer straightaway. You get a good run out of the corner onto the straightaway, and then it’s a heavy braking zone. So if you’re able to outbrake somebody, that’ll be a good place to do it.

“It’s a really tight corner that you’re coming to, so if you get to someone’s inside, you’re almost forcing them to give you the spot. I don’t think they’re going to be able to race you and clear you on exit, unless they really trust you or you’re very careful.

“I think there, and maybe into turn one, that’s probably the next widest and longest true straightaway, but there are a lot of corners where if you’re right on someone’s bumper, you can just poke out, even if you get your nose only to their rear tire, they’re kind of forced to let you in.”

When to force the issue and when to just ride is perhaps the biggest balancing act in navigating Saturday’s 55-lap race.

“Patience will be very important. It’s important everywhere, especially on road courses in these cars, because if you miss one braking zone, all it takes is one corner where you drive in too deep, or get it wheel-hopping, and you end up in the wall. You’re either out of the race or you’ve lost all your track position,” Mosack said. “Anybody who can just be patient and maybe drive a little bit under the limit the whole race but still be fast, they’re the ones who are going to be in the best position at the end of the race.”

Sage advice from someone who knows.

Mosack hits the track for the first time on Saturday with practice at 10 a.m. CDT/11 a.m. EDT followed by qualifying at 11 a.m. CDT/12 p.m. EDT. The Loop 121 gets underway at 4 p.m. CDT/5 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by USA and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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