Wheatland, Missouri (June 15, 2021) – This weekend the heat gets cranked up on a critical mid-season stretch for the Lucas Oil MLRA as the series makes it annual trek south to the Salina Highbanks Speedway, for the 8th Annual Freedom Classic. Drivers will start the weekend off on Friday night June 18th with a $3,000 to win main event, that will lead up to Saturday nights $5,000 to win feature at the facility located just outside of Pryor Creek, Oklahoma.
Tony Jackson, Jr. continues to hold down the top spot in the season long Midwest Sheet Metal—Point Leader Spoiler Challenge Standings. Jackson maintains a 175 points advantage over Garrett Alberson, and 240 over Californian Jason Papich. All three of the series top stars will be looking for their first Lucas Oil MLRA win on the HighBanks this weekend.
One year-ago, Payton Looney scored an emotional first career MLRA victory on Friday night at Oklahoma’s Premier Dirt Track, before a red hot Johnny Scott returned to Cedar Creek Beef Jerky Victory Lane in the weekend finale over veteran and six time Salina Highbanks winner Terry Phillips.
Mason Oberkramer, competing in his first full season with the MLRA, enters the weekend sixth in the standings, with his sights clearly set on returning his Barry Wright Icon Chassis to victory lane. The Broseley, MO driver found his stride in the second half of 2020 where he captured a pair of MLRA victories.
The 28-year old driver finished inside the top ten in both of his Salina Highbanks starts in 2020 and feels like he is well prepared for a breakout this weekend. “You’ve got to be able to steer pretty much the whole night, if you can’t steer your probably not going to be very good there. I got to follow Payton (Looney) around there last year and that seemed to help me. He gets around there really well, so I followed him in my heat race and just kind of learned how he was driving it and taught myself a few pointers that I was able to put in my note book.”
After enjoying some early season success on some of the bigger tracks on the MLRA schedule, Oberkramer says he is ready for a challenging weekend at the Highbanks. “After going to I-80 and a couple of these other bigger tracks I feel like I am really starting to get around them (bigger tracks) better. I don’t know if I am getting good at them yet, but I am more comfortable,” he commented. “I didn’t use to be very comfortable on the bigger tracks at all, but I’m pretty excited for this weekend.”
Chad Simpson of Mt. Vernon, Iowa has been a model of consistency in recent years when it comes to racing at Salina. The 2014 & 2018 series champion has notched five top five finishes in his last six Highbanks starts, good enough for an average finish of fourth place. Simpson’s lone victory in that span came back in the Friday night opener in 2018. With that kind of on track record, it won’t be a surprise if Saturdays $5k payday makes the 8 hour plus trip back to Iowa when all is said and done this weekend.
SUNOCO ROOKIE WATCH:
For the first time in 2021 Jake Timm will head into the weekend on top of the Sunoco Race Fuel Rookie of the Year Standings, by a slim ten point margin over Oberkramer. Timm also holds a six to two advantage in Rookie of the Race Honors thus far, while Justin Reed has also collected three Rookie of the Race honors
This weekend looks to be a toss-up for the lead rookie duo, with both recording solid top ten finishes on the Highbanks one year ago. Both drivers still have a few select tracks that look to favor one or the other, so putting together a strong weekend in Oklahoma could go a long way in deciding this battle, one that will likely go down to championship weekend.
Salina Highbanks Speedway: Pryor Creek, OK -- Friday 6/18/21
Gates: 5:00 PM
Racing: 8:00 PM
Admission: GA Adults $15, GA Kids $5
Support Classes: Modifieds, Super Stocks
Salina Highbanks Speedway: Pryor Creek, OK -- Saturday 6/19/21
Gates: 5:00 PM
Racing: 7:00 PM
Admission: GA Adults $20, GA Kids $10
Support Classes: B-Mods, Pure Stocks