Dillon McCowan has gone from watching races at Lucas Oil Speedway as a youngster to contending for wins there as a teenager. This season, the 16-year-old from Urbana looks to take his next, dream step and visit victory lane there.
"That would be amazing," said McCowan, who wound up tied for fifth in points in the Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mod division last season. "I've been wanting to win races there since I was a little kid. I finally got to race there a couple of years ago. It always was one of my dreams to race there."
When the new season begins in a few weeks, McCowan figures to be a contender in a division that includes a trio of recent USRA B-Mod National Champions.
"The caliber of drivers you get to race with, I think it's helped me tremendously," McCowan said.
McCowan was contending for a feature win a couple of times at Lucas Oil Speedway last summer before mechanical issues dashed those hopes. Still, with nine top-10 finishes and a pair of top-fives, it was a breakthrough season. In just his second year in the B-Mod, after he began racing Mini-Stocks and Midwest Mods at the age of 12, he also earned a track championship at Midway Speedway.
"It was really a great season for me and my whole race team," McCowan said. "As the season went on, we got a lot better. Just the whole team had a good and very productive season."
As for how he improved the most as a driver, McCowan said it was across the board.
"Probably getting the wheel quicker, driving a little harder and getting into my rhythm quicker," he said. "A lot of seat time really helps."
The family operation got an early jump on the 2020 season by going west in January. McCowan posted three top-five feature finishes at Vado Speedway Park in New Mexico, then went to the Wild West Shootout in Arizona where he ran 12th and 19th against a stout field of B-Mod competitors.
That experience should do nothing but help the team as the local season fires up.
"It went really good; a lot better than I expected," McCowan said of of the western trip. "We had a lot of fun out there and we had some pretty good finishes. There was some stiff competition, so we were pretty happy with how we did."
McCowan is behind the wheel of the Rage-chassis car that Kris Jackson drove to the 2019 USRA B-Mod National Championship. He said Jackson continues to be a mentor with helpful advice.
"I can't thank him enough. He has done more for me than I could ever pay him," McCowan said.
Jackson added that he's happy to help McCowan and family because they are humble and hard working. He expects big things from the teen driver this season.
"I think Dillon will be fast. He's gotten really good," Jackson said. "He came so far (in 2019) and I look for him to be a real threat. It makes me proud to see him take what information that I've given him and run with it. He's done well for himself. He and his Dad (Charlie) work hard at it."
McCowan's No. 8 car has a long list of sponsors, including: Pomeroy Sersvices, 3 Link Innoviations by 65, Oak Star, McCowan Farms, Ozark Motorsports Report, Fast Shafts, Swift Springs, Wooderson Vet Clinic, Hawk Fertilizer & Feed, Hawk Angus Farms, Empire Energy, White's Marine, Specialty Risk Insurance, State Farm Insurance-Karl Steckel, Rick Lowery Taxidermy, Corral Customs, Mid-Mo Splicing and A.D. and Nancy McCowan.
"We're so lucky for all the help and thanks to them all," Dillon McCowan said.
The Lucas Oil Speedway season kicks off with the Open Test and Tune on March 28, with the Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series opening night set for April 4 with action in all four divisions: Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds, Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods, Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Models and O'Reilly Auto Parts Street Stocks.
Season passes for 2020, along with gift cards which can be redeemed in any department of the speedway, are now available. Contact Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.