Wheatland, Missouri (February 24, 2017) - Tony Jackson Jr. has been burning the candle at both ends lately. New cars and more engines than ever, a day at the track in Wisconsin, a sellout of his street stock business and a brand new crew chief highlight his last few months.
"I'm sure ready to get racing," said Jackson from his race shop earlier this week. "This is without the question the most prepared I have ever been heading into a season."
Jackson is eyeing a calendar full of race dates and will run the majority of the Lucas Oil MLRA tour like previous seasons. The 2013 series champion has nothing but good things to say about the events on the schedule this season.
"It's a really good schedule this year," Jackson elaborated. "I like running at all the tracks on the schedule, there's not even one where I would like to shy away from. It should be a great year."
New to the team are three MB Customs Race Cars, built by Jimmy and Chris Mars, from Menomonie, Wisconsin. The five race ready power plants come by way of Cornett Racing Engines.
"I've been in several cars the last few years and this time around I was really looking for something that not everybody else in the pits was unloading," said Jackson. "I also wanted to be back on Integra Shocks. Those are kind of just home to me. This deal came about, and I couldn't be happier."
About a month ago Jackson and Mars were able to get away and spend a day testing at Mississippi Thunder Speedway in Fountain City, Wisconsin. He felt comfortable right off the bat and his lap times were in line with Mars right out of the trailer.
The past couple of seasons he has also established himself as a force in the street stock world, building some of the most successful cars in the country. Gone are the jigs and related components. When asked about the decision, he was very matter of fact.
"I think I proved what we needed to with those cars. I felt like that success came at a cost to my racing, and it had to go. For me to race the way we need to, I couldn't continue building those cars."
Also new is Tony Allen, a highly respected veteran Dirt Late Model Crew Chief. Allen was looking for a spot to land when Jason Papich sold his operation at the end of the year. Jackson provided him the opportunity to remain in the midwest.
Allen joins Dustin Atkinson and Jeff Morgan. Atkinson works full time for TJR and specializes in sheet metal and body work. Morgan handles tire duty in the evenings, and is occasionally at the track to help as well.
"I think it's important to set realistic goals heading into the season," Jackson offered. "This year I'd really like to win ten races. I've had a few years better and several worse. We're extremely prepared, with folks like Jim and Vicki O'Dell on board, and also Raymond Merrill, who is planning to race a bunch with us this season. I can't thank them and all of our sponsors enough for their help."
The first weekend of racing for the Lucas Oil MLRA is just under two months away. It will again originate from the Kosiski family's I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Nebraska, March 31, and April 1. The Spring Meltdown will pay $2,000 and $3,000 to win respectively.