Home track title on Lucas dirt Turner’s 2016 goal
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February 25, 2016  |  by Lyndal Scranton

Eric Turner said winning a track championship at Lucas Oil Speedway is his clear goal for 2016. (Chris Bork Photo)

WHEATLAND, Mo.—With a half-dozen track championships during an 18-year racing career, Eric Turner has plenty to brag about when flashing his dirt-track résumé.

But there's one missing jewel that Turner desperately wants to add.

"Winning a championship at Wheatland would mean more to me than any of them," Turner said of the Pitts Home USRA Modified division at Lucas Oil Speedway.

Turner, 38, has been close a few times since the speedway—located about five minutes from his home in Hermitage —opened in its current multi-million-dollar sparkling form 10 years ago. He was third last season behind Jeff Cutshaw and Jason Russell in the USRA Modified class, but never got fully rolling in dividing seat time between two cars.

This year, he plans to campaign a GRT owned by Christine and Richard Smith from Kansas City.

"We're going to run for a championship at Wheatland. That's our goal and it was our last year, too," Turner said. "This year I'm back in my GRT, in more of a comfort zone where I know a little bit more about what I need to do.

"Last year, I struggled all year long. I sort of lacked that edge to be in the top three where I could dig and get a shot at two or three wins. I just never could get the Hughes (Chassis) car to my liking. At least with the GRT, I kind of have a baseline to go by."

Turner knows it'll be difficult. He calls the USRA Modified division at Lucas Oil Speedway "by far the best it's been."

"We used to have three or four guys that could run for a win and now it's probably seven or eight," he added. "It's almost doubled within just the last five years. That's a lot for a local track. Last year, you have to work your butt off just to keep from having to race your way into the feature through the B (feature)."

Turner isn't sure, but he believes one of his track championships in a Modified came at the old Wheatland Raceway, a forerunner of the current racing complex. His other championships came at the Dallas County Speedway in Urbana and the Springfield Raceway.

The "new" Lucas Oil Speedway is dear to Turner's heart because he befriended Lucas Oil founder and speedway owner Forrest Lucas when Lucas built the complex.

Lucas Oil and Lucas' MAVTV have been prominent on Turner's cars over the last decade.

"We've kind of been a partnership since the time they've been here," Turner said of the Lucas family. "I would like to win one championship for them. It's not like Forrest needs the exposure, but I would like to win a championship with his name on the car real big."

Along with Lucas Oil and MAVTV, Turner welcomes back Henryetta Ford, RacinDirt.com and Smith Racing as sponsors.

Before the USRA Modified fires up, Turner is going to have a little late model fun. He's scheduled to fly to the west coast on Friday and, through some past acquaintances, drive a late model at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway dirt track next week.

"After that, we'll get back, turn around and get the Modified out," Turner said. "We're all geared up and ready."

Lucas Oil Speedway's season fires up April 8-9 with the Lucas Oil MLRA Spring Nationals with the first Budweiser Weekly Championship Series race set for April 16.

Lucas Oil Speedway is located at Highways 83 and 54 in Wheatland, Missouri. A campground with shower and bathroom facilities is also available. With it's 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 www.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.

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