Wheatland, Missouri (March 19, 2019) -While the 2018 Lucas Oil MLRA tour served up a bit of a learning curve for Mitch McGrath, it also put a fire into the team that they look to bring back to the series in 2019.
McGrath ended his MLRA rookie campaign an impressive 6th in the championship battle and 2nd in one of the deepest Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie battles in recent history, despite missing two of the final four races due to a scheduling conflict and motor issues.
Heading into his rookie campaign, McGrath had spent the majority of his racing career running local tracks and regional series near his Waukesha, WI home-primarily with great success. The MLRA series offered up a big challenge for the small family race team in 2018. "I was a little psyched out at first, but after doing it, it was like okay we can do this. We didn't run as well as we wanted to and we were hoping to win some races, but for the first year it was still good," said McGrath.
Prior to 2018 McGrath had piloted one of the family's Wild Chassis before making the move to Rocket Chassis for the rookie campaign. McGrath commented, "Last year the Rocket was new to us, so now we have a year under our belt with the Rockets, and we should be able to start off 2018 closer to where we need to be. Really it was all a learning curve for us, from the travel to how the races were set-up, but we just kept learning together."
McGrath was able to get on a strong roll in the mid-portion of the MLRA season, recording eight top 10's in a nine race stretch, including a podium finish on the Davenport Speedway's quarter-mile.
Benefiting from the MLRA's stiff competition level, he recorded a trio of feature wins a year ago in his home states, "Dirt King's Tour". "Running with the MLRA helped us a lot last year. When we came back home and raced locally we were faster," stated McGrath.
Being the lone driver from the Badger state following the MLRA, which will make stops in six states in 2019, McGrath acknowledges he is fortunate to have a supportive family along for the tour ride and backing him in the shop. "Having the family support is awesome, and it's the main reason I can do the tour (MLRA). I wouldn't be doing this if they weren't game for traveling up and down the road. I've got to thank them the most for doing it and enjoying it, we all have fun doing it and that makes it fun."
One of those rolling up and down the road weekly with team 74 is Mitch's son, Tucker. The youngster recently got his own start in the go-kart ranks, another family affair shared at the Beaver Dam Raceway each Tuesday night during the summer.
When it comes to the big cars McGrath notes of his son, "You wouldn't believe he is only 10 years old. You just can't imagine how helpful a 10 year old can be at the race track when it's just the four of us."
For 2019, the team has purchased a new Rocket Chassis XR1 from local dealer Mike Mataragas Enterprises, and once again will be powered by Pro Power Racing Engines. Approaching his sophomore season with the MLRA McGrath said, "We want to have good consistent finishes and if we are going to follow the tour we want to end up good in the points. Honestly, I 'm shooting to knock off a few wins this year."
One date circled on his MLRA schedule will come on June 14th, when the series makes its first ever stop in the state of Wisconsin at the Beaver Dam Raceway. Having logged many laps around the 1/3-mile dirt facility McGrath is excited to see the new addition to the schedule that will likely have him tabbed as one of the early favorites.
While excited seeing a stop on the schedule in his own back yard, he acknowledges that the travels of the road and expenses it presents makes it challenging financially, especially with a number of long distance trips to MO and OK on the MLRA schedule.
"It was unfortunate that we lost one of our primary sponsors this year due to an upcoming retirement, but we did pick up one new one so far and have received some great help from our other sponsors in getting the new car together."
McGrath currently operates out of a single car hauler, something that he would like to change to provide a safety net when hundreds of miles from home chasing points with the MLRA. In order for that to happen he knows it will take additional sponsorship's, something he is constantly pursuing.
THE # 74 TEAM-Car chief Mike Roszina helps lead the efforts in the shop during the week, while the McGrath family provides assistance on race day. Parents Joe & Robin McGrath, along with Mitch's wife Paige and son Tucker fulfill the pit crew duties.
MARKETING PARTNERS -Sorce Services, Diamond Jim's Auto Sales, Behling Racing Equipment, Matco Tools by Mike Formella, Suburban Drywall, Mike Mataragas Enterprises, & Pro Power Racing Engines.
For all of the latest news and information fans are encouraged to visit the series website at www.MLRARacing.com.
Lucas Oil MLRA Series Director
Mobile: (417) 309-3509