April 2, 2024 | By Billy Rock

Tri-City Speedway "Winter Meltdown" Opens Season For Lucas Oil MLRA

Photo by Mike Musslin, Checkered Flag Photography

WHEATLAND, Mo. — The Lucas Oil Midwest Late Model Racing Association (MLRA) is set to begin their 36th consecutive season of action with a double header this weekend at the Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois. The 1st Annual “Winter Meltdown” will serve as the opening round of an exciting 27 race schedule in 2024, before the series returns to Tri-City for the annual MLRA Championship weekend in October to close out the season.

The season opener will be comprised of two complete points paying events starting on Friday night April 5th, as drivers compete in a $5,000 to win main event that will also pay $500 to start. Action will resume on Saturday, April 6th when the stakes increase, paying the victor $7,000 for their efforts, while all qualifiers will be guaranteed $700 for starting the weekend finale.

“There is no doubt that everyone has cabin fever, and they are ready to go racing,” commented Kevin Gundaker, whom along with wife Tammy and their family operate the 3/8-mile facility just east of St. Louis, MO. “Having the MLRA is a really good fit to be able to open our season with, I’m excited to have Ernie (Leftwich) and his group in here and excited to get 2024 going.”

Chad Simpson enters the 2024 season as the defending Lucas Oil MLRA Champion. In 2023 the Mount Vernon, Iowa driver scored his second consecutive series title, and fourth all time. Simpson’s four championships tie him for third best all time with Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer Terry Phillips. Al Purkey’s seven titles and Alan Vaughn’s five continue to lead the way.

Simpson is expected to contend for the series title once again, behind the wheel of his Longhorn by Wells Chassis. He will also attempt to become just the second driver ever in series history to capture three consecutive championships, a feat accomplished only by Alan Vaughn from 2002 to 2004.

Drivers will get an opportunity to shake off the rust with an open practice session on Thursday night April 4th from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, which is something that Kevin Gundaker says is key for a lot of people. “As a driver you get to knock some rust off before you actually race. I know there are quite a few guys that also have new cars this year so it will give them a feel for that and an opportunity to try some different things without being in race mode. And for us on the track side, it gives us a feel for what the racetrack might need and what it's going to be like right out of the box.”

Both MLRA weekends at Tri-City Speedway fell victim to mother nature in 2023, but early forecast projections for this weekend’s season opener look to be dry and ideal for getting the early spring racing season kicked off. No single driver has yet to become a repeat winner during MLRA action at Tri-City, with nine different drivers having visited victory lane to date. Two-time MLRA series winner Logan Martin, along with 2023 Sunoco Race Fuel Rookie of the Year runner-up Trevor Gundaker, are the most recent winners, both sharing time in victory lane during the 2022 season finale weekend.

Gundaker also noted that time trial qualifying is going to be critical as always for all the competitors looking to get a jump on the points season. “Qualifying is definitely important. I tell my sons the two most important laps you will make all night are the first two because everybody has such good equipment and the parity in racing today makes it hard to have to come from a little further back.” 

Tri-City Speedway: Pontoon Beach, IL (Practice Info)--Thursday 4/4/24

Pit Gates: 5:30 PM

Hot Laps/Practice - 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Pit Passes: Adults $30, Kids (6 – 12 yrs.) $15

Grandstand: FREE to Watch

Website:  http://www.tricityspeedway.net                 

Tri-City Speedway: Pontoon Beach, IL (Race Day Info)--Friday 4/5/24

Pit Gates: 2:00 PM, Grandstands 5:30 PM

Racing: Hot Laps - 6:30 PM, Racing 7:15 PM

Admission: Adults $25, Kids (12 & Under) FREE

Support Classes: MARS Modifieds- $1,000 to Win

Tri-City Speedway: Pontoon Beach, IL: (Race Day Info)--Saturday 4/6/24

Gates: 2:00 PM, Grandstands 5:30 PM

Racing: Hot Laps - 6:30 PM, Racing to follow

Admission: Adults $25, Kids (12 & Under) FREE

Support Classes: MARS Modifieds- $1,000 to Win

For all of the latest news and information, including the full 2024 schedule, fans are encouraged to visit the series website at www.MLRARacing.com.


Once again in 2024 the MLRA will continue it's "Winners Circle Program" by awarding $200 in appearance money to the top (10) in points at each venue with perfect attendance, in addition to purse money earned. For full program details contact Series Director Ernie Leftwich.

For all of the latest news and information fans are encouraged to visit the series website:  www.mlraracing.com


Mostly Motorsports Live

Track Talk Live

Mostly Motorsports Live

Track Talk Live

Mostly Motorsports Live

Track Talk Live

Mostly Motorsports Live

Track Talk Live

More Videos

Our Partners