Wheatland, Missouri – Recently Payton Looney and the Atnip Enterprisies team informed Lucas Oil MLRA officials of their intentions to follow the tour and compete for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title.
Originally scheduled to compete last year, Looney had to remove himself from contention when engine issues reared their head on Memorial Day weekend.
“We planned to do this last season,” said Looney, who still ran several shows. “We had trouble at the Show Me 100 and it put us in a position where we had to miss several shows.”
Ironically, that weekend probably marks the biggest of Looney’s career thus far. He was Friday night’s fast qualifier, winner of two qualifying heat races and a sixth place starter in the 100 lap main event.
His strong runs, with the nation focused on Lucas Oil Speedway, proved an optimal time to shine. Not to mention he also sold out of merchandise on hand.
“I’m really looking to put a full year together on the MLRA tour,” Looney further elaborated. “I love racing at Wheatland obviously, and also places like Salina, Oklahoma and LaSalle, Illinois.”
The team will roll out their Rocket XR1, which they finished last season running. There is also a pair of Scott Bailey Chevrolet Engines in the arsenal too. Looney was quick to mention Swift Springs, and the consistency they brought to his program, once he made the switch for the second half of the season.
“We’re beyond stoked for the year,” said team owner Jeremy Atnip. “We’re looking to hire someone full-time for the season just to work on the race car. Once we get that handled we’ll be in a better spot to compete, than we ever have been. It’s always just a lot of pieces that have to come together.”
Beyond the driver’s seat Looney is a Project Manager for Atnip Entersprises, so racing only scratches the surface of Payton’s involvement with his team owner.
“I’m just looking to go out and be consistent,” commented Looney. “We won a race last year, obviously that’s the goal. I’m just lucky to be in this position!”
The 2018 schedule kicks off at Tony Izzo’s LaSalle Speedway for the Thaw Brawl Friday, March 30, and continues through Saturday, March 31. It will pay $15,000 to win the final night and $5,000 for the season opener.
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