During the past off-season Ryan King and the team at Knoxville-based Warrior Race Cars announced their intention to follow the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series in 2018, at least up through the time at which newcomers have to announce their intentions to officially compete for the Rookie of the Year title. As a result, the No. 1G machine and its crew have raced at the Golden Isles Speedway in Waynesville, GA and East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, Fla. during the early part of February.
While it is not exactly breaking news to point out that the level of competition on the LOLMDS is tough, no one can attest to that more readily than the Seymour, Tenn. native. After the two races held at Golden Isles and the first five(3 non points paying events) at East Bay, the team had failed to crack the starting lineup a single time.
However, after a spirited battle with the likes of Chase Junghans and Bobby Pierce in the fifth heat race on Saturday night at East Bay, King came across the finish line in the third spot to earn the 16th position on the starting grid for the $12,000-to-win points-paying main event.
King talked with Dave Argabright of Lucas Oil Racing TV regarding his relief to make the feature lineup and the difficulty of the team’s previous efforts.
“I guess if you could pick any night out of this whole deal to make the show, tonight would be the night,” King told Argabright in reference to the purse money available. “We’ve been struggling this week just trying to figure this place out. It’s my first time being here and it’s the first time we’ve brought this new car down here and I think we finally hit on something tonight. I hope we can run alright in the feature.”
King completed all the laps in a somewhat chaotic 60-lap affair to come home with a solid 12th place result in a race eventually won by fellow rookie contender Kyle Bronson.
“We’re trying to grow this team a little bit,” King explained in the televised interview. “I haven’t done a whole lot of travelling myself. Most of these places the Lucas Oil Series goes to, I’ve never even been to before. There’s going to be a lot of that this year.”
King and his team know that their challenge is indeed a tough one.
“We’re kind of an underfunded team,” the 26-year-old driver pointed out. “We know we’re the underdog in this deal, but we’ve got high hopes and high dreams so we thought why not go ahead and chase them and see what we can make happen.”
And for this team, qualifying for the lucrative Saturday night feature race salvaged their trip to Georgia and Florida.
“It’s a big relief,” King admitted. “I know that back midweek we were discouraged. We were about to the point that we were going to pack up and go home. This is major for us just to make the show tonight.”