Lucas Oil MLRA

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Wheatland, Missouri (November 8th, 2023) – While mother nature may have played havoc with a consider amount of the Lucas Oil Midwest Late Model Racing Association (MLRA) schedule in 2023, at the end of the day two drivers still stood tall above the competition.

Chad Simpson took control of the top spot by virtue of his victory at the Davenport Speedway on April 13th and never looked back, cruising to a 270 point margin in the championship race over brother Chris Simpson.

While the Simpson brothers controlled the top two spots in the final season rundown, 19 year-old Dillon McCowan used a third place finish in the championship battle to secure the Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Year title, topping a rookie class of seven up and coming drivers.

Chad Simpson’s run to a 4th MLRA Championship started soon after the Mt Vernon, IA racer clinched the 2022 series title. The driver of the Ideal Ready Mix/Randy Davidson Trucking # 25 knew going back-to-back in the MLRA would not be easy task, which led him to make one of the biggest and most challenging changes to date in his racing career as he transitioned from a Black Diamond to a Longhorn by Wells Chassis.

“I knew I needed to make a change over the winter, which is obviously not an easy financial decision to make. I’m fortunate to have such a great group of sponsors that came through to help me make that change, and to run good right out of the box I think was rewarding for everyone involved. It definitely was not a dominating championship, but definitely one that I guess came with the most confidence and support I’ve had from everybody.”

“We were pretty excited going into this year with the new car, knowing that the Longhorns were pretty much the top tier and dominant all of last year,” explained Simpson. “After the first weekend down at Wheatland we ran second to (Jonathan) Davenport and that right there was a huge confidence boost for us and everybody that is involved with us. I kinda felt like I had the feel back after that weekend, maybe a feel that I had been missing for a couple of years in the seat,” noted Simpson.

In his nine non-co-sanctioned MLRA starts, Simpson tallied six top 2 finishes, half of which resulted with trips to Cedar Creek Beef Jerky Victory Lane. His three victories on the season moved his career MLRA win total to 19, now placing him 11th on the all-time series wins list.

As a six-time Champion of the former Corn Belt Clash Series and now a four-time MLRA champion, Simpson says that every title is a little different in its own right. “My confidence level going into this year was just that much higher than some of the past championships. Out of all of the MLRA championships that I have won I felt like the equipment that I had going into this year, making the switch to Longhorn and the help from Wells, just gave me some added confidence. And having all of my sponsors to be able to put me into that position was huge.”

Simpson joins elite company with his 4th series title, as he ties the series winningest driver Terry Phillips with four Championships. The duo of Simpson and Phillips trail only five-time champ Alan Vaughn and upcoming Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame Inductee Al Purkey, who was a series leading 7 x champion.

Chad Simpson will collect $20,000 for his share of the over $50,000 Lucas Oil MLRA Championship point fund, in addition to a host of contingency awards from series sponsors. Simpson also earned the season long overall Fast Time Award Presented by MyRacePass.

“First and foremost, I’ve got to thank my family. They have stood behind me through my entire racing career. They enjoy it and love it, so having them behind me in what I love to do is obviously most important to making this happen.”

“I’ve been out on my own since 2019, and it’s definitely been challenging financially. This sport is getting more and more expensive and just crazy to try and be able to compete and be up there with the top drivers in the country. Every little bit that everyone has given me and my team over my career, and especially the backing and support that I had from everyone when I went to make this change to Longhorn, has been really outstanding. I think along with that support, it obviously showed up in our performance and in how comfortable we were this year, and the guys were all having fun.”

Chad Simpson Racing Marketing Partners:
Ideal Ready Mix, Randy Davidson Trucking, Liebe Trucking, Five Star Shop Service, Burich Trucking LLC., Venture Concrete & Excavating LLC., Moeller Farms, Midwest Sheet Metal, Volker Trucking, Midwest Frame & Axle, Simpson Farms, Kroul Farms, Subway, Allstar Performance, Wehrs Machine, Masterbuilt Concrete, Twenty Five Design, Swift Springs, Ultraforce, Stewart & Sons, BMRE, Race Buds, Performance Bodies & Parts, Arizona Sport Shirts, Lucas Oil, Stealth, Bilstein, Hoosier Tire Midwest, Pro Power, VP Heartland, Wells Motorsports, Quartermaster, Longhorn Chassis, The Joie of Seating, Delph Communications, Stop Tech Brakes, Hooker Harness, Team AFCO, RE Suspension, Fast Shafts, Mike Ruefer Photos, Gorsuch Performance Solutions, NAPA Auto Parts, Longacre, Grasshopper Lawn Care, Speedwerx, Holmtown Pub.

From the onset of the 2023 season Dillon McCowan made it clear that the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award would have to go through the 19 year-old from Urbana, MO. McCowan led the first 13 laps in the opener at the Lucas Oil Speedway back in April, and went on to record a total of 11 Rookie of the Race honors to lock up the MLRA’s coveted Rookie award.

McCowan made the jump into the late model ranks after winning 18 races in 2022 that also resulted in a national runner-up finish in his USRA Modified. “It was a big change for us trying to get into the swing of this whole late model scene and trying to get the whole team jiving and everyone knowing their role of what to do,” noted McCowan. “And for me, as a driver it definitely took a lot of laps this year to get comfortable in the cars and knowing what to do and when to do it. “

The driver of the Sonic Longhorn Chassis finished his inaugural MLRA season with 8 top ten finishes and 3 top five finishes, to go along with an impressive 6th place run in the Show-Me 100 at the Lucas Oil Speedway.

“Going to a lot of these tracks, especially for me, not so much Tim (Douglas-Crew Chief), but for me seeing these tracks for the first time and seeing how they raced and seeing what the track does throughout the night was a big learning curve. When you go from north to south the dirt changes a lot, and so throughout the night you definitely had to pay attention a lot, especially running with these guys. The tracks change drastically throughout the night, so it definitely made me pay attention a lot more as a driver and having Tim as a crew chief when he came on board it helped us a ton.”

In addition to his $7,500 check for third in the series overall standings, McCowan will receive $2,000 and 3 drums of racing fuel from title sponsor Sunoco Race Fuel, along with a set of shocks from Fox Racing Shocks. He will receive additional contingency awards from MD3, Strange Oval, Earnhardt Technologies, Fast Shafts, and Swift Springs.

“I definitely think we met our expectations in my eyes and in the teams’ eyes really. We didn’t have the best year, but for rookies I felt like we had a pretty good year with the races we had and making a lot of the shows that we run in. I feel like there were several nights that we could have done better and probably left a little bit on the table just because we were new to it and made a few errors here and there. Other than that, I think it was a pretty good season for us.”

McCowan Racing Marketing Partners:
Sonic, Pomeroy Services, Empire Energy, Heritage Tractor, McCowan Farms, Elite Construction, BLC Transportation Inc., Bilstein, Ozark motorsports Report, Scott Bailey Racing Engines, Specialty Risk Insurance, VP Heartland, Midwest Sheet Metal, Swift Springs, Joe’s Hardware, Longhorn Chassis, Fast Shafts, A.D. & Nancy McCowan, Midwest Wrap Co., MyRacePass.

Article Credit: Billy Rock

Submitted By: Billy Rock

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Lucas Oil MLRAas of 5/5/2024
  • 1.Chad Simpson 605pts
  • 2.Chris Simpson 565pts
  • 3.Gordy Gundaker 540pts
  • 4.Tony Jackson Jr540pts
  • 5.Trevor Gundaker 490pts
  • 6.Justin Duty 475pts
  • 7.Dillon McCowan 460pts
  • 8.Jeff Herzog 455pts
  • 9.Earl Pearson Jr445pts
  • 10.Aaron Marrant 390pts
Full Points