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Chris Simpson Seeking A Fast Start  To 2024 With Lucas Oil MLRA
603
3/22/2024

3/22/2024

Lucas Oil MLRA


Chris Simpson Seeking A Fast Start To 2024 With Lucas Oil MLRA

Wheatland, Missouri (March 22, 2024) – Leaving the Lucas Oil Speedway after the season opening MLRA Spring Nationals in 2023, few people probably had Chris Simpson on their radar to be a contender for the series season championship. A guy that had just recorded back-to-back 25th place finishes had put himself into a deep hole, but his remarkable season turn-a-round may be one of the best examples in recent years of a team that had a never give up attitude. It was that perseverance for the Oxford, Iowa driver that led his race team to a runner-up finish in the final championship standings.

“We struggled pretty much both nights at Wheatland, which got our hopes down and we weren’t sitting very good points wise. Those first two nights just killed us, you know I pulled off not thinking of running the whole series and at the end of the year it bit me pretty hard,” commented Simpson.

“But to see where we started and where we ended up, obviously we only had the one win and I definitely feel like we left a couple more on the table, but we were right there. I think we added it up the other day and we had like eight second place finishes. And anytime you can look back at a year and see you had that many top fives or that many top twos you know your stuff is pretty good and there isn’t a real big reason to go making a lot of changes.”

The driver of the Hoker Trucking # 32 bounced back in a big way over the next four races by finishing no worse than 5th, while mixing in a pair of runner-up finishes and scoring his 16th career MLRA victory at the Lake Ozark Speedway. It was that string of top five runs that eventually helped lead Simpson into considering a full time run at the MLRA title, something he is not accustomed to doing.

“I planned on running all the way to Wheatland and then if we needed a provisional (Show-Me 100) I would have it and that’s like three grand to start. At that point we were second in points, and I felt like we had quite a few races left to make up ground on Chad (Simpson), but obviously with the rainouts and stuff like that it just didn’t go in our favor,” explained the 40-year-old Simpson.

For much of his racing career Simpson has preferred to run an outlaw schedule, picking and choosing where to race from week to week. In fact, his last top five points finish prior to 2023 came back in 2014 when he finished 4th in the former Corn Belt Clash series standings. “When you run kind of an outlaw schedule you go and if you do good you do good, if you don’t you go home and it’s not like you’ve got to worry about it. Just running for points puts another worry on you, but I think it makes you better too.”

Juggling a busy sales occupation in the family’s business, Five Star Shop Service, and with having three very active children, also adds to the complexity of a series commitment for anyone he explains. “Running the series is hard, and I know it’s hard for Chad too. With kids and youth sports, my son is in youth baseball, my youngest daughter is in youth softball, and my oldest daughter is in volleyball. Those are just times you will never get back if you don’t go spend time with them and do those things. Hopefully the schedules will work out again this year so we can be at every race, but yet make it to a bunch of the kid’s activities as well.”

Of his sixteen career wins, which dates to Lakeside Speedway in 2009, Simpson has managed to accumulate victories at 11 different MLRA venues over the years. It’s that quick to adapt versatility that makes him a regular threat for the win. With another trio of new tracks on this year’s MLRA schedule, including a short road trip of 45 minutes to the Cedar County Raceway in Tipton, IA, things appear to be setting up nicely for another possible run to the title.

“I think a lot of why I‘m able to adapt quickly is a testament to my racing from over the years. Because like back when guys like my brother were following the WDRL or MLRA per say, I kind of branched out instead and went to places like LaSalle, I went to places like Fairbury, IL. I think just me jumping out and racing different tracks has helped me a ton as far as going to a new track and being competitive. Just going to all those different tracks really helps you, so when you do follow a series or go to a new track it’s easier to adapt.”

Since first jumping into the world of late model racing, where he originally shared a ride with brother Chad between their home tracks of Farley Speedway (now 300 Raceway) and West Liberty Raceway, Simpson notes how much the sport of dirt late model racing has evolved. “The technology and just all that we have to do anymore has changed things, and especially the amount of money we have to spend to stay up front. It was there back then just not to this degree, and I try to be real smart about it,” he commented of the racers budget.

“I really liked it when MLRA had you mark four tires, and you ran the same four tires all night. I think for a team like me and a team like anybody running the MLRA schedule they love that because for one it’s a lot less tire work. And for me, the way we grew up racing was on hard tires, so you had to learn to take care of your stuff. I think that’s what some of the younger guys don’t do is throughout the night they don’t take care of their tires, or in a longer race they don’t take care of their tires and you can kind of see that at the end of the races with guys like me being more used to it. We just grew up where that’s what you had to do, if you were going to finish up front you had to take care of your equipment.”

While his series leading four second place finishes from a year-a-go, including three to his brother and eventual series champion Chad, might not have been enough to capture the title, he notes that the season did bring back one important element--having fun.

“Honestly, for me last season was just fun racing with Chad again. We were at a point where we were super competitive, and we had a few differences between the years with all the different things that come along with racing, but honestly it was fun again. As most people around noticed me and Chad parked with each other wherever we went and that’s how it should be, we’re brothers. He’s been super successful in the MLRA stuff, and I’ve been successful too, I’ve just never really stuck it out and ran a full series as long as he has been, but he’s been awesome doing it.”

“It’s nice if I’m down crew guys or if he’s down crew guys at times, we can help each other and have a few beers or grill out afterwards and just kind of hang out. That part made it fun again for me last year.”

With a furry of nine nights of racing on the MLRA schedule during the month of April, Chris Simpson will find out quick if 2024 will be the season where he quite possibly puts a championship trophy on his mantle come seasons end. “It’s always nice to have the “W’s”, but obviously when you’re running up front you really can’t complain. As of right now we are going right out of the gate with our best car, best motors, and going to try and jump in the points lead right away,” he concluded.

Chris Simpson Racing/Marketing Partners: Hoker Trucking, Randy Davidson Trucking, C&J Trucking, Hot Rod Septic Treatment, HD Equipment, RLM, Capital Signs, IITI, & Factory CS.


Article Credit: Billy Rock

Submitted By: Billy Rock

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Points

Lucas Oil MLRAas of 4/13/2024
  • 1.Chad Simpson 400pts
  • 2.Tony Jackson Jr375pts
  • 3.Chris Simpson 375pts
  • 4.Justin Duty 330pts
  • 5.Gordy Gundaker 320pts
  • 6.Trevor Gundaker 310pts
  • 7.Dillon McCowan 305pts
  • 8.Jeff Herzog 305pts
  • 9.Dustin Hodges 290pts
  • 10.Matt Johnson 260pts
Full Points