Wheatland, Missouri (January 14, 2022) – Shortly after the final checkered flag waved on the 2021 race season, Trevor Gundaker was already making plans for an aggressive 2022 season. It will be a season that finds the St. Charles, MO driver venturing on the road with the Lucas Oil Midwest Late Model Racing Association (MLRA) as he tries to become one of the youngest drivers to ever win the series Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Year award at just 19 years of age.
Growing up in a family deeply rooted in dirt Late Model racing, “T-Rev” got his first shot in the UMP Pro Crate Late Model Division in 2018. In just his first season behind the wheel he captured both the Track Championship and the Rookie of the Year Award at the Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, IL.
Gundaker used 2018 as a stepping stone, moving quickly into a full season of Super Late Model racing in 2020, followed by a 2021 campaign that would find him winning a pair of open late model races. His most noted win from a season ago came in the Late Model portion of the Modified Mania finale at Tri-City, cashing in on a $3,000 pay day over veteran drivers Rusty Schlenk and defending MLRA series champion Tony Jackson, Jr.
The MLRA season ahead is just another step in the learning curve for the aspiring young driver. “I’ve always had a good eye out for it (MLRA Schedule), because it doesn’t have to do with a lot of traveling, but you run a bunch of close tracks basically. It’s a good starter series to follow and you get to run with guys like Tony Jackson, (Mason) Oberkramer, (Payton) Looney, Garrett (Alberson) and all those guys. It’s going to be a good learning curve basically to be able to go out and run those tracks and not have to be fully committed compared to Lucas Oil or World of Outlaws, yet still being committed to following a series,” he noted.
Most of the tracks on the 2022 MLRA schedule will come as first time venues for Gundaker, but it’s a challenge he is ready to tackle head on. “When the schedule came out I went on there and looked at every race track and researched them, looking at the dimensions and mileage of each and nothing is really out of the ordinary. I ran at Tri-City every week and it’s a 3/8 mile and most tracks we run on are either 3/8 or probably a little smaller which is perfect for us because we have always been accustomed to running on those type of tracks.”
One of the biggest challenges he anticipates is learning how to adjust his driving style to the different types of dirt and track surfaces he will encounter on the road. Conditions such as the typically hammer down tracks like Lucas Oil Speedway and Lake Ozark Speedway, to what he expects to typically be slicker surfaces at places like Davenport and 34 Raceway in West Burlington, IA.
“It’s going to be different getting on different dirt in the different regions of the Midwest,” stated Gundaker. “That part will be interesting, from the black gumbo to the different clays it will be interesting and a whole different ball game.”
Gundaker is quick to note that he still has a lot to learn in a sport that is continually changing and forcing drivers to look in every direction to find more speed. One such avenue for help that he looks to draw from in the season ahead lies well within the Gundaker family tree, in the form of his father Kevin and brother Gordy.
“These last couple years I have had my own program a bit but I have ran up and down the road with Gordy there for a bit too, running Summer Nationals and some regional races at Farmer City and Fairbury and places like that. But now I basically have my own program, and that’s greatly influenced by both Gordy and dad. It’s nice to have their help, coming from dad which is a hall of famer and Gordy who has been racing for about ten years now they know a whole lot about these late models. For me in this basically new career I don’t know a whole lot, but I know just enough so there is always room for learning.”
The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender plans to campaign behind the wheel of a new 2022 Black Diamond Chassis powered by a Bullet Racing Engine when the season opens on April 8th & 9th at the 81 Speedway in Park City, KS. “We are planning to go down in early March and build a car with Black Diamond again. Ronnie (Stuckey) and those guys have always been really great to us, and having guys like Alberson and Chad Simpson they have always greatly helped me too with everything, so hopefully that will help boost my experience.”
The MLRA schedule currently sits at 30 different events across six different states and includes a total of eight different events that are co-sanctioned with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. “It’s going to be a really good learning curve and a very good experience for what I’ve got to expect here in the next couple of years,” said Gundaker.
“Running tours is always about keeping your head straight and being able to finish and being there at the end. I hope it’s going to help me learn more about control and getting my mind set right and being able to focus on things rather than having to run a show here every weekend. Now that I’m following a tour I’ve got to be completely focused on points and being able to better myself,” he concluded.
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