Wheatland, Missouri (April 5, 2021) – The Lucas Oil MLRA will open its 33rd consecutive season this Friday and Saturday April 9th – 10th at the Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, MO. The 8th Annual MLRA Spring Nationals, presented by Racingjunk.com has fallen victim to mother nature and a national pandemic the last three seasons, but series and track officials are ready to welcome fans and drivers back in a big way.
A marquee difference to this year’s lid-lifter will be a big jump in pay out, which is in turn expected to attract a large field of regional and national stars. Drivers will be vying for a $5,000 top prize on Friday night, followed by a $10,000 to win finale to close out the series opening weekend on Saturday.
One year ago, Jeremiah Hurst came into the season looking to chase the Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the year title, and four months later the Dubuque, IA driver not only walked away with the series ROY, but also earned himself the designation as the 2020 Lucas Oil MLRA Champion, holding off Chad Simpson and Payton Looney in one of the closest title bouts in series history.
“Words are hard to describe it,” Hurst commented of the series title. “I have been racing for around 25 years and putting everything I have into it the whole time. To see it finally pay off was kind of a dream come true."
After a slow start that resulted in a pair of 13th place finishes in two of the first three events, Hurst turned the corner by recording a string of eleven consecutive finishes of 9th or better, including four podium finishes. It was an impressive run in which he overcame a 145-point deficit over a four race stretch, enough to catapult him to the top of the standings for the first time following last years MLRA fall Nationals.
With the title within reach, the driver of the Roberts Motorsports # 58 entered the final weekend on a mission and wouldn’t be denied. “That last weekend I kind of changed my mindset, and I’m thinking you know, I might have a shot at this if a couple things go our way. A lot of it was luck, I didn’t even win a race. If you look at (Payton) Looney he probably had one of the best years he’s ever had, but just had a misfortune of motor issues that kind of took him out of the situation.”
Although Hurst did not find Cedar Creek Beef Jerky Victory Lane during his championship MLRA season, he did find victory on three other occasions, including a pair of wins at Sycamore Speedway along with a $5,000 Hell Tour win at Peoria Speedway. Car owner Ken Roberts is confident in his team’s ability to break their MLRA drought in 2021. “Our approach is to be a top five every night, and if you can travel and compete with this level of competition at all these different tracks that we go to and you can consistently be in the top five the wins will come,” noted Roberts.
Both driver and owner are convinced that the late addition of Garrett Alberson to the team was their equivalent of finding the last missing piece to a puzzle. “I knew I didn’t want to struggle my rookie year chasing my tail all the time, so we just thought we would bring Garrett in and that would take some of that off. He knows what he is doing and I think now that him and I are meshing together and with what Ken gives us for equipment, I’m hoping we both have a really good year,” said Hurst.
Hurst’s recommendation to add Alberson to the team as a second driver truly defines the 45-year old’s team player mentality and desire to win. “I told him when he got here, this is kind of like you taking my wife on a date right in front of me and kissing on her you know. But I knew what I had to do and I knew my dad didn’t have much time, and that it was one of his dreams and mine too (to win MLRA title). I’m just glad it all happened.”
The Roberts Motorsports crew was also heavily test during the championship run, having to prepare not one, but two cars for Hurst and Alberson. “I’ve got two of the best guys,” Hurst commented of Jeremy Roeth and Justin Tharp. “You have a lot of people come in and out of your life in racing that help you and I’m thankful for all of those people, but those two give me everything, 100% and I appreciate that as much as anybody.”
“It is incredible to see the work ethic that my team has,” echoed Roberts. “Their excitement to be involved in racing is incredible. They are all working guys, working regular jobs, so it can be more challenging. Everyone has their job on the team and their piece of the puzzle if you will, and they each do it very well.”
The driver of the Nutrien Ag Solutions/Done Right TV # 58, will roll out a new 2021 Black Diamond Chassis powered by a Clements engine for the upcoming season. “I think these new cars will be helpful, so we are just anxious to get going. It is always tough to race the first night with a car you don’t already have a couple of nights in, but we will deal with it however we have to.”
“I’d like to try and defend it,” Hurst commented of his bid for a second MLRA crown. “I’m sure there are a lot of people thinking that I was just lucky, so hopefully this time I can get a couple of wins and it will be a different story.”
Hurst will open up his MLRA Title defense on Thursday night as Lucas Oil Speedway gives drivers an opportunity to test from 6 pm – 9 pm in preparation for the weekend double header. Following the practice, the “Diamond of Dirt Tracks” will host a DJ & Karaoke in the tech building from 9 pm to midnight.
Roberts Motorsports Supporters: Nutrien Ag Solutions, Done Right TV & Security Services, Dish, Mesilla Valley Transportation, Black Diamond Race Cars, Roemer Machine & Welding, Lucas Oil Products, A&E Freight Service, Preston Telephone Company, Swift Springs, CAPRI College-hair salon & nails, VP Heartland Racing Fuels, RCS Union Software, UAW, BUUDDA Bert Transmissions, Advance Racing Suspensions, Performance Bodies, LIVE-KLAFF.-LOVE, Penske Racing Shocks, CAPITAL Signs & Wraps, FastShafts, PEM Gears, Strange Oval, Hoosier Tires, Keiser Aluminum Wheels, FSE (Fire Suppression Engineering), Stuckey Enterprises, Proxair, Clements Racing Engines, Roberts Motorsports, SUPER Clean, Out-Pace Racing Products, Winstein, Kavensky & Cunningham-Union Attorneys.
Car Owners: Ken & Beth Roberts
Crew Members & Supporters: Jeremy Roeth (Crew Chief), Justin Tharp, Ian Hurst, Mike Torrey, Chris Smith. Supporters--wife Stacy and children Louden & Layna, Kathy Hurst, and his sisters Heather, Corinne, & Brianna.
Lucas Oil Speedway: Wheatland, MO (Practice Day)--Thursday 4/8/2
Pits Open: 2:00 PM
Open Practice: 6:00 – 9:00 PM
Pit Pass: $25
Lucas Oil Speedway: Wheatland, MO (Race Day Info)--Friday 4/9/21
Gates: 4:00 PM
Racing: Hot Laps - 6:30 PM, Racing - 7:05 PM
Admission: Adults(16+) $20, Seniors (62+)/Military $17, Youth (6-15) $10, Kids (5 & Under) FREE, Family Pass $50
Support Classes: USRA Modifieds $750 to Win & USRA Stock Cars $500 to Win
Lucas Oil Speedway: Wheatland, MO (Race Day Info)--Saturday 4/10/21
Gates: 4:00 PM
Racing: Hot Laps - 6:30 PM, Racing - 7:05 PM
Admission: Adults(16+) $25, Seniors (62+)/Military $22, Youth (6-15) $10, Kids (5 & Under) FREE, Family Pass $60
Support Classes: USRA Modifieds $1,000 to Win & USRA Stock Cars $750 to Win