WHEATLAND, MO. (May 24, 2021) – For the first time in 21 years, a Missouri driver will be attempting to defend the Show-Me 100 championship when the three-day dirt Late Model crown-jewel event begins on Thursday at Lucas Oil Speedway.
But Payton Looney of Republic, who won last year’s pandemic-delayed Show-Me 100 when the event was a one-night show in July, is taking an unconventional approach as the 29th annual Show-Me 100 Presented by ProtecttheHarvest.com fires up.
This will be Looney’s season debut in his Capital Race Car. He’s not chasing MLRA points or points of any kind in 2021. After the Show-Me 100 win and near-Lucas Oil MLRA Series championship, Looney has adopted a less-is-more approach to his racing this season.
“I’m gonna race a lot less than I have in the past, race when I want to race and at the tracks that I want to race at,” he said. “I made a personal decision to switch jobs and career paths. I wanted to be home with my kids and not be gone as much.
“My oldest boy is getting ready to start T-ball and all that stuff. I just didn’t want to be gone as much as I’ve been in the past. I just made that decision by myself.”
Yet Looney wonders how it will feel when he pulls into the pits for as the defending champion when action kicks off on Thursday with the “Cowboy Classic,” a program with a $6,000-to-win feature honoring the memory of former Lucas Oil MLRA Series owner Allen “Cowboy” Chancellor.
“I don’t know how it’s going to feel,” Looney said. “It was such a strange time last year anyway, with it running in July and getting canceled (in May) due to Covid. I don’t know that answer. I guess we’ll see come Memorial Day Weekend.”
Looney took the lead on lap 28 last July and never gave up command. He finished 1.67 seconds ahead of runner-up Kyle Strickler to earn $20,000, joining Springfield’s Terry Phillips (1999) as the only Show-Me State winners of the race.
The surprising outcome – at least to many – wasn’t all that surprising to Looney who said he felt quietly confident that night.
“I felt at ease,” Looney said. “I guess it was the perfect circumstance and the perfect storm. I felt strapping in for that 100 laps that we were going to win. Everything just went perfect and I didn’t have any doubts like in a normal situation. Like they say, when it’s your time it’s your time.”
Now, Looney looks to defend his title while hitting the track for the first time in 2021 on Thursday night, joking that he “hopes I get off work in time” to get to the speedway for qualifying.
“We’ve been going through the last car the last couple of weeks, getting everything in order,” Looney said. “Hopefully we can come out on Thursday and have a good showing.
“Thursday and Friday I want to use to get comfortable and get the feeling back. Expectation-wise, it’s the same car and same car we won with last year and pretty much the same package. I just want to be competitive and run all 100 laps on Saturday and maybe have a shot at the end of that 100 laps.”
Another driver who has raced sparingly this year will be another to watch. That’s Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tennessee, who’s won a record six Show-Me 100s, including the 2018 edition. Others to keep an eye on include Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points leader Tim McCreadie, four-time Show-Me 100 champ Jimmy Owens, three-time LOLMDS champion Jonathan Davenport and Lucas Oil MLRA points leader Tony Jackson Jr. of Lebanon, Missouri.
Action kicks off on Thursday with the “Cowboy Classic” for Late Models headlining the program, with a $6,000-to-win, $600-to-start main event which also enables drivers to earn valuable points toward starting position into the night-night main event. The Cedar Creek Beef Jerky USRA Modifieds run a full program with the feature winner earning $750.
The “Tribute to Don and Billie Gibson” on Friday also will see a $6,000-to-win feature with more points earned for the starting lineup the next night. USRA Modifieds compete for a $750-to-win feature with more points collected toward the final-night main event. The Gibsons started the Show-Me 100 in 1993 as owners of West Plains Motor Speedway.
The Saturday-night program includes B Mains, the Midwest Sheet Metal Show-Me Challenge and the 100-lap, $30,000-to-win main event along with a $1,500-to-win USRA Modified feature.
The final night will be even bigger as three-time CMA and ACM Country Music Male Vocalist of the Year, Grammy Award winner and American Patriot Lee Greenwood will serve as Grand Marshall for the action on May 29.
Greenwood will sing the National Anthem during opening ceremonies and also his iconic song “God Bless the USA,” after driver introductions just prior to the green flag falling to begin the 100-lap feature.
The daily ticket breakdown for Show-Me 100 weekend:
May 27: $25 general admission adults, $22 seniors (62 and up) and military; $10 youth (ages 6-15); FREE kids (ages 5-and-under); $60 family pass; $100 three-day reserved; $35 pit pass, $100 3-day pit pass.
May 28: $25 general admission adults, $22 seniors (62 and up) and Military; $10 youth (ages 6-15); FREE kids (ages 5-and-under); $60 family pass; $100 three-day reserved; $35 pit pass, $100 3-day pit pass.
May 29: $35 general admission adults, $32 seniors (62 and up) and Military; $10 youth (ages 6-15); FREE kids (ages 5-and-under); $80 family pass; $40 pit pass.
For ticket information for any event during the 2021 Lucas Oil Speedway season, contact Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or via email at Nichole@lucasoilspeedway.com. Fans also can use the online ticketing system.