KANSAS CITY, Kan. — It has been a very long time since Frankie Muniz was “Malcolm within the Center.”
Nowadays, he is extra like “Frankie within the Entrance.”
The multitalented actor-turned-race automobile driver is main the standings within the ARCA Sequence, one of many decrease rungs on the NASCAR feeder system, by way of the primary three races in his first full season. His aim is to achieve the Cup Sequence finally, however the 37-year-old Muniz harbors no misconceptions about simply how tough will probably be to climb that ladder.
Particularly given he is nonetheless making an attempt to study what all of the switches do in his present automobile.
“I am so targeted on all that I must study proper now in ARCA,” stated Muniz, who was eighth-fastest in follow Friday at Kansas Speedway, the place the sequence will race Saturday. “That is the fourth race of 20 this season. I assumed I would do OK; I did not know I would be within the factors lead at this level. However I am targeted on persevering with that and studying.”
Muniz has at all times been fascinated by racing. He noticed some in Charlotte rising up and went to the Daytona 500, the place he drove the tempo automobile in 2001, the 12 months Dale Earnhardt was killed in a last-lap wreck. And through his youthful days, when he was starring because the titular character on the Fox sitcom “Malcolm within the Center,” he dabbled in aggressive racing.
Muniz entered 14 races in 2006 within the Formulation BMW USA sequence, and the next 12 months, moved as much as the Champ Automobile Atlantic Sequence. He continued racing till 2009, when a crash left him with accidents that led to him stepping away.
He targeted totally on performing, although by that time “Malcolm within the Center” had lengthy completed its seven-year run on Fox and was quick turning into a cult basic, and commenced moonlighting because the drummer within the indie rock band Kingsfoil.
Muniz’s comeback, so to talk, started in late 2021 when he drove a late mannequin at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California. Subsequent got here an ARCA Sequence check at Daytona final 12 months, and in January, Rette Jones racing introduced that Muniz could be behind the wheel for the No. 30 Ford full-time this season.
“I like my previous. I like all the pieces I’ve performed,” Muniz stated, “however I do not bear in mind ever saying I wished to be an actor. I wished to be a rubbish man, truthfully, and performing took over my life. This opportunity in racing was me saying: ‘What do I wish to do? What do I wish to accomplish in my life?’ And right here I’m. I selected this. And after I put my helmet on and depart pit land, as a lot as I do not know, I really feel like I am precisely the place I am alleged to be.”
Seems that is on the entrance of the pack.
Whereas he is but to win by way of three ARCA Sequence races, Muniz has been the mannequin of consistency. He is the one driver to complete all 316 laps, and that is why he leads 18-year-old Jesse Love by the narrowest of margins within the factors race.
“It’s an awesome achievement for Frankie to be main within the ARCA Racing Sequence championship level standings as a Rette Jones Racing driver, however it is rather early within the season,” stated the staff’s co-owner, Mark Rette. “Nonetheless, Frankie is extremely targeted and he is aware of that if he simply focuses on his craft behind the wheel, the factors will observe.”
One factor Muniz has going for him is the help of Ford. The racing powerhouse lately had him at its world headquarters for some occasions, and his automobile this weekend is carrying the “Constructed Ford Proud” banner on it.
“Clearly that is an integral a part of making these leaps,” Muniz stated, “the truth that I am in with a tremendous producer.”
That can solely take Muniz up to now, although. He additionally understands that exhibiting sufficient potential to rise by way of the ranks is of the utmost significance, and he would not have an entire lot of time to do it. Muniz is principally getting his begin in inventory automobile racing on the similar age that many drivers are starting to consider what comes subsequent.
That is an added little bit of strain that lots of his friends do not have.
“There’s good and unhealthy, clearly, with being my age,” Muniz stated. “I have been by way of rather a lot in my life — quite a lot of good, quite a lot of unhealthy. I’ve skilled some issues, even racing up to now. I really feel like I pushed onerous in racing, however I at all times felt like I may have pushed tougher, tried tougher. I’ve this chance now right here I get a second probability to do it the suitable approach.”