July 14, 2021
Lucas Oil Speedway Spotlight: Diamond Nationals a chance for MLRA points leader Jackson to shine close to home
WHEATLAND, MO. (July 15, 2021) - What has been another outstanding season in the Late Model racing career of Tony Jackson Jr. of Lebanon includes an uncharacteristic hiccup at one of his favorite tracks.
Jackson has four feature wins and is the runaway points leader in the Lucas Oil MLRA Series heading into Saturday’s 15th annual CMH Diamond Nationals at Lucas Oil Speedway. The event is co-sanctioned by the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
But during Memorial Day Weekend, Jackson struggled to a 17th-place feature finish at the Show-Me 100 after running 13th and 22nd in the Cowboy Classic and Tribute to Don and Billie Gibson preliminary features.
“Racing’s an up and down sport,” Jackson said. “Overall from start to finish, I’d say it’s been a pretty successful season. Every time we’ve been out on the road, we’ve been able to win at least one (MLRA) race. That definitely gives you momentum when you’ve had that many good runs.
“At the Show-Me, I was driving another guy’s car and had a decent run in it (the race before). I thought we had a decent baseline in it. Then with the rain and the way the weekend played out, nothing really went our way.
“Looking back, we’d have been way better off to have been in the (same car) I was used to. That was our plan, to run that car the first night, then fall back to my car the following two nights. After the rain it kind of forced our hand to pick one or the other. It was just kind of a weird weekend.
“We’re really anxious to get back there this weekend and run the car we’ve been running and see what we’ve got.”
Jackson holds a 205-point lead in the MLRA standings over Garrett Alberson. The 2013 MLRA champion and five-time MARS Series champ said he didn’t begin the season with a plan to run for another regional series title. In fact, the original plan was to race the World of Outlaws Late Model circuit full time.
But he said a couple of expected sponsors didn’t follow through so those plans changed. The MLRA began with a win and two runner-up feature finishes in the first five events and it made sense to continue on as a series regular and his points lead has continued to grow.
As to whether he’s thinking about adding another championship to his resume, Jackson said, “I think that’s always in the back of your head, but I hate to concern myself with that.”
“As a veteran, we’ve been fortunate to win MLRA and MARS championships in the past,” Jackson added. “When you put yourself in this situation, you don’t want to get yourself into just point racing. That’s not what we’ve done all year. We’ve tried to win every race we’ve gone to.
“We’ve found ourselves point racing a lot throughout my career. There’s still quite a few races left. If you’re trying to win races and run as good as you can, it’s borderline whether you should be worry about (points) or not. I’ll let the next three or four races play out and see where we’re at.”
Jackson has a full plate, on and off the track. As owner of TJR Motorsports, he sells and services Rocket Late Models and Jason Hughes Modifieds out of his shop. Only recently, he announced that cousin Kris Jackson - a championship USRA B-Mod racer - was joining him as J2 Race Cars to build USRA Modifieds, USRA Stock Cars and Street Stocks.
The J2 shop in the heart of Lebanon is expected to open soon, to go along with a new shop at Tony’s home for the Late Model and Modified portion of the business.
“It is hard,” Jackson said of balancing business and his own racing. “It’s feast or famine. You need to go out and run really good to get business. But when you’re out running the Late Model it’s a full-time job and it’s hard to service your customers.
“Back to point-racing deal, it’s hard to focus on points. There’s lots of weeks we don’t even touch our car until Thursday before we load up, because we’re working on our customers cars. A lot of guys don’t work on anything but their own cars. It’s unique deal we’re in, but it takes all my customers in order for me to race. The customers come first.”
Jackson said he eventually will make business his full-time endeavor and perhaps hire someone else drive his race car. But that is not imminent. At the age of 39, he feels some of his best years behind the wheel are still to come.
“We have a lot of good employees and Kris is a big help,” Jackson said. “You surround yourself with a lot of good people and it makes my job easier. Hopefully, we’ve got a lot of years left.
“Yeah, we’re busy but very fortunate to be in the position we’re in.”
The Diamond Nationals, featuring the stars of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and Lucas Oil MLRA, will find $15,000 plus a diamond ring going to the winner of Saturday's main event. The co-sanctioning will have time trials to set the lineups for qualifying heat races, B Mains and the 50-lap Diamond Nationals main event.
Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C., is the defending Diamond Nationals winner. Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., leads the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series championship chase by 160 points over Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Georgia and Show-Me 100 champ Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Indiana.
Cedar Creek Beef Jerky USRA Modifieds and O’Reilly Auto Parts USRA Stock Cars will be on hand as well, with Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series points on the line. The Modified feature winner will earn $1,000 with $750 going to the Stock Car feature winner.
Saturday night’s action will conclude a big three-day swing for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. Action kicks off Thursday night at 34 Raceway in Burlington, Iowa, with a $15,000-to-win event. The series shifts to Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois, for $12,000-to-win on Friday.
Located in Bolivar, CMH (Citizens Memorial Health Care Foundation) serves eight counties in southwest Missouri. A 2014 and 2010 Missouri Quality Award recipient, CMH is a Level III Trauma Center and has a Level II STEMI Center. CMH also has 32 primary and specialty physician clinics, seven long-term care facilities and other ancillary services. Go to CitzensMemorial.com for more information.
Gates will open at 4 p.m. Saturday with hot laps at 6:30 and racing at 7:05.
Adults (16 and over) - $30
Seniors/Military (62 and over) - $27
Youth (ages 6-15) - $10
Kids (5 and under) - FREE
Family pass (two adults and up to three youth 6-15) - $70
Pit pass - $40
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.
Lucas Oil Speedway General Manager
Office: (417) 282-5984
Complete Lucas Oil Speedway event information, archived race recaps, previews and driver features, along with ticket information and schedules can be found by visiting LucasOilSpeedway.com.
Lucas Oil Speedway is located at Highways 83 and 54 in Wheatland, Missouri. A campground with shower and bathroom facilities is also available. With its entrance located just outside the pit gate this sprawling scenic camping facility will continue to enhance the racing experience at the Diamond of Dirt Tracks.
Click LucasOilSpeedway.com for more information and detailed directions to the speedway or call the Track Hotline at (417) 282-5984.
In addition, fans can get social with Lucas Oil Speedway by following @LucasSpeedway on Twitter, clicking "Like" at www.facebook.com/LucasOilSpeedway and on www.youtube.com/LucasOilSpeedway
About Lucas Oil Speedway
Lucas Oil Speedway is considered by fans, drivers and industry insiders to be one of the top five racing facilities in the nation. Located in Wheatland, Missouri, approximately an hour from Springfield, Missouri, and just an hour and a half from the Kansas City metro area, the "Diamond of Dirt Tracks" lives up to its title.
Twenty-One VIP Luxury Suites, HD Jumbo-Tron Screen, Stadium Style Musco Sports Lighting, a Bose Sound System, Go-Kart Slick Track, The Diamond Bar, Track Treasures Gift Shop, the best track food in the country and paved pits are a few of the spectacular amenities setting the Diamond of Dirt apart. This year marks the ninth season for the Liquid Quarter Mile Drag Racing Lake, "Lake Lucas." New for 2017 was all-purpose built Off Road facility featuring the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series as well as a host of other regional events.
Lucas Oil Speedway's dirt oval track plays host to some of the largest and most-popular events in the Midwest with national and regional touring series appearing frequently including: The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, POWRi Midget National Series, Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League, United States Modified Touring Series, ASCS Sprint Cars and the Lucas Oil MLRA.
In addition to the special events, the Lucas Oil Speedway Weekly Racing Series features the ULMA Late Models, USRA Modifieds, USRA Stock Cars and USRA B-Mods.
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