Wheatland, Missouri (October 6, 2020) - With an ever tightening points battle shaping up for the Lucas Oil MLRA title next weekend, this week's MLRA Fall Nationals at the Lucas Oil Speedway looks to have become a pivotal stop on the way to crowning the series champion.
An open practice session on Thursday night October, 8th from 5pm - 8pm will jump start the weekend for race teams looking to get dialed in for Friday and Saturday. Friday night will feature a complete show paying $3,000 to win, while Saturday night's finale to the Lucas Oil Fall Nationals will hand out $5,000 to the victor.
With just five races left to crown a series champion, three contenders have emerged, and all have a viable shot at taking home the championship. Payton Looney comes into this weekend on top of the standings, a position he has held since the July 4th weekend. However, the 120 point advantage that Looney had built up diminished considerably over the course of the last two events, leaving him now clinging to a 57 point lead over Chad Simpson. Not to be outdone, Sunoco Rookie of the Year leader Jeremiah Hurst has also positioned himself into title contention, sitting just 77 points out of the lead.
Looney suffered his worst outing of the season in the series last event, when motor issues sidelined his Atnip Motorsports entry and relegated him to a 20th place finish and his lone MLRA DNF of the season. Two nights at Lucas Oil Speedway could be just what the Dr. ordered for Looney, as he has recorded three finishes already this season at the Diamond of Dirt Tracks of fourth or better, including winning the Show-Me-100.
"It means everything to come back to a place that we have had a lot of success at," said Looney of returning to Lucas Oil Speedway. "Hopefully we just got the bad luck out of the way and if we can keep the bad luck and mechanical failures away then hopefully we will have a good shot at being competitive and running good this weekend."
Simpson was close to wrestling the championship lead away from Looney with his troubles at Randolph County Raceway last month, until a flat tire sent him pitside with troubles of his own. Simpson rallied to finish 9th and still managed to close the gap by nearly half to put himself into contention for his third series title. Simpson has yet to find victory lane with the MLRA in 2020 but is no stranger to victory lane in at Lucas Oil Speedway, it's where he claimed victory to wrap up his last series title in 2018.
Now solidly back in the hunt, Simpson said, "Before we went into that last swing 120 points out I was feeling pretty confident about the car and things, but honestly didn't expect to pick up the points that we did that last weekend. To close the gap half down it has our guys feeling pretty excited and has everybody fueled back up and fired back up, so we're excited."
Jeremiah Hurst began the season in search of the Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie title, but now with just two weeks to go he finds himself in a great position to go one step further and win not only the Rookie title, but also the series overall championship. Hurst has podium finishes in three of the last four races and cut into Looney's lead by 68 points in his last outing.
In preparing for the final two-week stretch Hurst commented, "We have gone through the whole car to make sure we check all the things that might break ahead of time. That's the thing that could take us out, just like anything, one bad night. I'm looking forward to getting back to Wheatland again, and hopefully with that practice (Thursday) we can get ahead of the ball game when it comes to qualifying."
Hurst is excited to be in the position of coming from behind as it allows him to bring an all-out approach to the track this weekend. "Yeah I have things to lose, but I look at it as the big picture, and I got a bigger goal ahead of me than what I set out for at the start of the year."
TURN FOUR NEWS & NOTES:
Justin Duty holds the top spot in the Casey's General Store Hard Charger Standings heading into the final five events of 2020. The driver from Happy Valley, Oregon has rallied from deep in the field numerous times this season to rack up the passing points, and comes into the weekend looking for his fourth consecutive top four finish. Duty finished second just over a month ago at the Lucas Oil Speedway and looks to have strong potential to score his first career MLRA win this weekend.
Garrett Alberson and his Roberts Motorsports team had their struggles in their first year on the MLRA tour, but they have really turned the corner as of late. Following a 2nd place finish in the last MLRA event, the team took advantage of the down time and proceeded to pick up a $10,000 win in the Harvest 50 at the Sycamore Speedway just two weeks ago. It may be a long shot for him to take the Sunoco Rookie title away from teammate Jeremiah Hurst, but it's very conceivable to see him walk away with an MLRA victory before the season comes to a close.
Lucas Oil Speedway: Wheatland, MO Practice Day--Thursday 10/8
Open Practice: 5 -8 pm
Pit Pass: $25
Lucas Oil Speedway: Wheatland, MO Race Day Info-Friday 10/9
Gates: 4:00 PM
Racing: Hot Laps - 6:30 PM, Racing - 7:05 PM
Admission: Adults $15, Seniors (62+)/Military $12, Youth (6-15) $5, Kids (5 & Under) FREE, Family Pass $35
Support Classes: USRA B-Mods "Clash of Champions III"
Lucas Oil Speedway: Wheatland, MO Race Day Info-Saturday 10/10
Gates: 3:00 PM
Racing: Hot Laps - 5:30 PM, Racing - 6:05 PM
Admission: Adults $20, Seniors (62+)/Military $17, Youth (6-15) $10, Kids (5 & Under) FREE, Family Pass $50
Support Classes: USRA B-Mods "Clash of Champions III"
For all of the latest news and information fans are encouraged to visit the series website at www.MLRARacing.com.
Fans may also "like" the Lucas Oil MLRA Facebook page by clicking www.Twitter.com/MLRA.