(March 28, 2011) Buckner, MO -Story contributed by Trenton Berry/RacinDirt.com-
The start of 23rd Lucas Oil MLRA season this Saturday night at Nebraska Raceway Park, brings an eager group of newcomers. These drivers will be vying for the series Rookie of the Year honors. Joe Walkenhorst, Billy Koons Jr, Dustin Walker, Jason Pursley and Dustin Reeh have all declared their intentions to run for Rookie of the Year. For some of the above mentioned it will be their first competition in a dirt late model, while others have competed in spec and crate motor competition.
Joe Walkenhorst resides in Lee’s Summit, MO and has competed in the sport for 10 years. In previous seasons, he has competed in several ULMA events. In 2011 Walkenhorst will be driving a Swartz Chassis with a Rick Darling Engine providing the power. “We want to make the races and be able to learn for the future,” stated Walkenhorst. During Joe’s first season at Central Missouri Speedway he competed in the Limited Late Model class. One memorable race night, Joe started the feature in the back and worked his way to the front. Once there he was involved in a wreck with the leader and went to the back. After the restart he charged through the field again for his first feature win. The win was the first of Joe’s career and now a memorable story. Joe receives sponsorship from Swartz Race Cars, Metroplex Supply, KC Dent, Rick Darling Performance and USA Signs. His parents have also been instrumental in his racing program throughout his career.
Billy Koons Jr. is the youngest rookie in terms of age, at only 19 years old. Residing in Omaha, NE, this will be his first full season in a super late model. Koons Jr. will be the primary driver for BK Motorsports this season. “Our team’s focus in 2011 is to make Billy Jr. the Rookie of the Year,” stated team owner and father Bill Koons. “We worked all winter to improve Billy’s program and Crew Chief Brian Larimore has been huge for our team. Billy is the future of BK Motorsports.” For Billy this will be his fourth year behind the wheel. Previously he was the 2007 Rookie of the Year at Junction Motor Speedway in the Late Model class. Nebraska Raceway Park was the site of his first Late Model win in 2009. Billy will be driving the #51 Shaw by LSB with sponsorship from Billy’s Cafe’s, Integra Shocks, VP Race Fuels, Port City Racing and Fast Track Photos.
Dustin Walker, like Walkenhorst, has raced in the ULMA Late Model division in the past and has taken huge steps in the off season to prepare two open late models for competition this summer. Walker will be driving the #14W Hatfield Racing Engines powered Rocket. Walker started racing from his Peculiar, MO shop in 2002 at the Adrian Speedway and then at Butler Motor Speedway in 2003. He first competed in Street Stocks and then the Modifieds where he still finds time to run a hand full of races. Walker’s sponsorship comes from W&W Utility Construction. “I’m looking forward to racing this season at several new tracks,” stated Walker. “I hope we don’t tear up too much equipment and make the majority of the shows.”
Driving Walker’s other late Model will be Wheatland, Missouri’s modified veteran, Jason Pursley. Pursley has competed weekly at Lucas Oil Speedway and prior at Wheatland Raceway every season except the track’s first. He has won 18 feature races as well as, modified track championships at Dallas County Speedway and Springfield Raceway. The Hatfield powered Rocket also carries sponsorship from W&W Utility Construction. For Pursley, the first time he ever hit the track in a late model was two weekends ago at Heartland Park Topeka’s practice day. “This will be a new experience for me,” commented Pursley. “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity Dustin gave me. It will also be neat to meet new people throughout the season.”
Dustin Reeh, form Missouri Valley, IA is the final Rookie of the Year contender. Reeh started his career in 1987 in go karts and progressed to full size cars in 1997, before moving onto dirt late models in 2008. “The MLRA schedule fits good with what’s close for us,” said Reeh. “It also helps that the series races on the weekends. I’m excited to race several new places.” For Reeh, he considers Nebraska Raceway Park his home track. His biggest race win so far was the Tiny Lund Memorial in ’97. His #19 Swartz Race Car is sponsored by Amazing Energy, George’s Parts & Etc., Ultimate Racing Products, Brothers Farms, TotalPeroformanceParts.com, Lance A. Baldwin Lubricants and BatteryRepairExpress.com .
The Lucas Oil MLRA is proud to welcome these Rookie drivers and all returning competitors to the 2011 season. To keep up with all Lucas Oil MLRA events and current points standings visit the new series website www.MLRAracing.com .
The Spring Meltdown at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Nebraska kicks off the Lucas Oil MLRA season on April 2, 2011. Friday, April 1 will feature SLMR Late Models, A-Modified qualifying and Pro/Am Stock cars. Gates will open at 4 pm on Friday with hot laps at 6:15 pm and racing at 7 pm. Lucas Oil MLRA will practice on Friday at several points during breaks in the regular program. Lucas Oil MLRA qualifying heat races and feature events will take place on Saturday. Gates open at 3 pm on Saturday hot laps at 5:15 pm with racing at 6 pm. Pit gates will open at 2 pm on Saturday. Tickets for Friday are just $10 for adults, Saturday admission is $20 for adults. Kids age 6-15 get in for just $5 both nights!
Visit the series website www.MLRAracing.com for the most up to date information on the Lucas Oil MLRA.
For more information about the Spring Meltdown and other events at Nebraska Raceway Park visit www.neracewaypark.com .
The Lucas Oil MLRA (Midwest Latemodel Racing Association) sanctions regional Super Dirt Late Model touring series events in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Iowa.
For all the latest news and information on the Lucas Oil MLRA please visit us on the web at www.MLRAracing.com or by calling the series office at (816) 650-5063 or (816) 305-6572.
The Lucas Oil MLRA would like to thank the sponsors of the 2011 Tour including Lucas Oil Products, AAA Missouri, Hoosier Race Tires, Lucas Cattle Company, Hatfield Racing Engines, Larry Shaw Race Cars, AFCO Racing Products, GRT Race Cars, Powertrain Industries, Sunoco Race Fuels, Bodee’s Race Bodies, Outpace Racing Products,Fast Track Photos, Weld Racing Wheels, Impact Signs and Lighting, Rod End Supply, Racing Optics, Schoenfeld Headers, Kluhsman Racing Components, Performance Bodies, ATL Fuel Cells, Bilstein Shocks, RacinDirt.com, BSB Manufacturing, MasterSbilt, R2C Performance Products, SAFERACER, Keizer Wheels,