Wheatland, Missouri (January 21st, 2021) - With the new year upon us comes a new group of drivers, each looking to etch their name into the Lucas Oil MLRA record books by becoming the series 2021 Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Year. Jeremiah Hurst set the bar as high as it would go in 2020, not only taking the rookie title, but also becoming the series overall champion.
Justin Reed, driver of the Jeff Curtin Racing (JCR) # 11 has formally announced his intentions to compete full time for the 2021 Sunoco Race Fuel Rookie of the year. The 34 year old Reed has logged a handful of MLRA starts over the past couple of seasons, including a series best 7th place run in 2018 at the Beaver Dam Raceway.
When the MLRA schedule was unveiled in early November, Reed and car owner Jeff Curtin knew that it laid out well logistically for them to take their shot at running with the Midwest top touring open late model series. Reed hails from Camp Point, IL where he is currently preparing the team's car for the season, while Curtin resides in Shawano, WI where he is in the process of readying the team's hauler for the road.
"The MLRA schedule came out and there are a lot of tracks that we already go to and have been to, so we were like hey, this is fitting more of our build for what we need to do. We just need to muscle up and get the Oklahoma run done (Salina Highbanks Speedway) and the couple of Wheatland runs," commented Reed.
The MLRA will re-unite with some old tracks in 2021 along with adding some new stops, all of which play into the on track experience of Reed, who has been competing in late models for the past 17 years. "We have been to Deer Creek and Mississippi Thunder Speedway and our chassis dealer (MME) is right next to Sycamore Speedway, so this is more of our backyard and we are ready to try it."
"The MLRA has never been to Mississippi Thunder and right now that is one of my favorite tracks that I have ever been to. They do a great job of track prep, so it is always real racey, very smooth, and brings a lot of excitement." The MLRA's first visit to MTS located in Fountain City, WI will be a big one, with $10,000 on the line Friday, June 4th with the running of the "Rivercity Rumble".
Reed also shared his excitement with having three opportunities this season at 34 Raceway in Burlington, IA thanks to a considerable amount of seat time at the southeast Iowa facility including a win there in the 2009 "Firecracker". "Odds are I will feel really confident at Burlington. It has been a little feast or famine for me there lately, but I feel like I can qualify pretty well there, so as far as my odds I really like going back to Burlington, even though it will bring out the best of the best for the Slocum."
While 2021 will officially mark his Rookie season with the MLRA, he will bring a long list of experience and accomplishments including 35+ victories. Notable wins include finding victory lane in the former Derry Borthers IMCA Late Model Series at Allison, IA as well as a win with the Big 10 Super Late Model series at Quincy Raceway. His notable championship accomplishments include 2011 at the Quincy Raceway along with the 2015 UMP Late Model Midwest Region Championship.
The team has spent the winter months preparing for the season ahead and Reed is confident they will be well prepared when the series opens on April 9-10 at the Lucas Oil Speedway. "We have cleared it with the wives, so that was big," joked Reed.
The JCR race team will look to start their MLRA season off in a 2019 Rocket XR-1 chassis powered by a Triple R Performance Race Engine, with anticipations of having their new 2021 Rocket chassis by MME ready to go early in the season as well.
"The beginning of the season is so crucial to getting your feet set as far as a point chase goes, so I want to be in something that I have known. I also feel like we hit on some things with this car, so I'm confident in our adjustments there and that we can get some results out of it."
"Crew wise we are really set. Jeff's son Jarrid is my crew chief and he is top notch. I am spoiled to have him, he is everything that one of the major touring series would want and he has been on his game."
Reed also notes how critical it is to have a reliable stable or race engines at their ready. "We have three motors ready to go where in years past we were either waiting to get a motor done or just didn't really know how our motor program was going to be. We have three Triple R Performance Engines fresh and ready to go, so we don't think we are going to get to that point where we are limping on a motor or needing a motor which is big for us."
"It has been a goal of mine to follow the MLRA series, so for me to win the rookie of the year would be huge. Especially seeing what Jeremiah (Hurst) did. We have raced with them a lot and just seeing that they could elevate their game made us feel like we could do that too. For me, as I look at my racing career I want to be able to look back and say hey, this is one thing that we tackled one year and hopefully it will grow from there."
Jeff Curtin Racing Team Members: Car Owner--Jeff Curtin, Crew Chief--Jarrid Curtin, Car Chief--Mark Reed, Body & Fab Specialist--Mike Curtin
Marketing Partners: Curtin Construction, Charlie's County Market, Midas, Goosehead Insurance, Family Eye Care Center, Mike Mataragas Enterprises (MME), Triple R Performance Engines.
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