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Lucas Oil MLRA Rolls Into Eastern Missouri For Weekend Swing


Lucas Oil MLRA

Lucas Oil MLRA Rolls Into Eastern Missouri For Weekend Swing

Wheatland, Missouri (May 14, 2024) – An exciting weekend in new territory lies ahead for the Midwest Late Model Racing Association (MLRA) as the series prepares to head into not one but two, first time Eastern Missouri venues this upcoming weekend.

The Benton Speedway is the latest addition to the MLRA schedule, replacing an event previously slated for the Lebanon Midway Speedway in Lebanon, MO. The weekend opener gets things going on Friday, May 17th, with a $5,000 to win main event at the 3/8-mile gumbo dirt oval.

After sitting idle following the 2014 racing season, the Benton Speedway re-opened in late 2021 with the dirt track being just a part of a larger motorsports complex at the Benton, Missouri facility. Formerly known as the Missouri International Racepark, the track is located approximately 2 hours south of St. Louis, MO in the southeastern tip of the Show-Me State.

On Saturday May 18th, teams will make the 1.5-hour trek north to close out the weekend at the Farmington Empire Speedway in Farmington, MO for the inaugural “Kingdom Clash”. The weekend finale will pay $7,000 to win and serve as the final tune-up event for series drivers before next weekend’s Show-Me 100 at the Lucas Oil Speedway.

The 3/8-mile Farmington Empire track, most recently known as the St. Francois County Raceway, is under the new ownership of Darryll and Katie Dickerson in 2024. The Dickerson’s brought back the Farmington Empire name to the semi-banked oval as a means of honoring the tracks long history, dating back to its origin in 1970.

Brennon Willard Looking to Continue Climb Following 2023 Injury

Brennon Willard enters this weekends MLRA action just outside the top 10 in the series Midwest Sheetmetal Championship Point Standings in 11th, trailing current Sunoco Race Fuel Rookie leader Aaron Marrant by just 10 points. The 2023 race season was abruptly cut short for Willard after suffering a compression fracture of his T3 and T4 vertebrate during a racing incident back on June 2nd, at the Tri-City Speedway.

The Lebanon, MO driver is now fully recovered and excited for the balance of the MLRA season ahead, noting that last season’s accident was eye opening. “The mental aspect of it was way worse,” he commented of being sidelined for the better part of last season. “You think nothing can happen to you and then it does. The accident was just a freak deal, but to not know if you will ever race again because of it, was the worst part. I knew I didn’t want to go out that way, so it was good to get back out there.

“We are struggling, but it’s ok. I know we are getting there and getting better every week. Going to Springfield (Raceway) our first race back last fall was good, even though I probably should have waited, but it was just great to be back in the car. I feel like I’m 100% healed and the doctors said I was, so that was the good thing so we can just go have fun again.”

Willard has been busy trying to play catch-up since being cleared to race again late last fall, as his Capital Race Cars team has already competed in 15 nights of action thus far in a rain plagued 2024 spring. A strong partnership between Capital and JRi Shocks has him confident in the direction of his team heading into this weekend and beyond. “We have been working our butt’s off trying to figure things out, and obviously the more you race the faster you’re going to be. We went to Florida and raced every night this winter to try and get some seat time back that I missed out on last year and were working hard on these cars in the shop to keep getting better and better.”

“Last year taught me that I am a terrible race fan,” explained the former asphalt racer. “I thought I was a good race fan, but last year I learned that I am not. When you can’t go to the races and that’s what you want to do, that part was terrible last year for me. Dirt Late Models are the hardest thing to drive, and just being able to do that again after not racing helps you to appreciate it and you don’t take it for granted anymore.”

With both of this weekend’s visits being first time stops for the MLRA, the 40-year-old Willard says that can always help to level the playing field when compared to some of the more frequented tracks on the schedule. “You’re at a huge disadvantage when you’re going to a track for the first time and you’ve never even seen the place, but you know most of the other guys you’re racing against have been there before. So, when you go to places like Benton and Farmington that very few of the MLRA guys have been to before it tends to even things out somewhat. I think that aspect will help us, and it should also make for a good race with a lot of us having to learn the track and its tendencies all at the same time."

Benton Speedway: Benton, MO: RACE DAY INFO-- Friday 5/17/24
Pit Gates: - 2:00 PM, Grandstands: - 4:00 PM
Hot Laps: - 6:00 PM, Racing: - 7:00 PM
Admission: Adults (12 yrs.+) $25, Under 12 yrs. FREE
Pit Passes: $40

Farmington Empire Speedway: RACE DAY INFO--Saturday 5/18/24
Pit Gates: - 2:00 PM, Grandstands: - 4:00 PM
Hot Laps - 6:00 PM, Racing: - 7:00 PM
Admission: $25 Grandstand
Pit Passes: $35
Support Classes: A-Mods & Super Streets

Article Credit: Billy Rock

Submitted By: Billy Rock

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Lucas Oil MLRAas of 6/7/2024
  • 1.Chad Simpson 955pts
  • 2.Gordy Gundaker 945pts
  • 3.Chris Simpson 940pts
  • 4.Trevor Gundaker 865pts
  • 5.Dillon McCowan 860pts
  • 6.Tony Jackson Jr830pts
  • 7.Earl Pearson Jr815pts
  • 8.Jeff Herzog 740pts
  • 9.Clayton Stuckey 685pts
  • 10.Aaron Marrant 665pts
Full Points