Lucas Oil Speedway Spotlight: Double duty means double fun as Morton adds ULMA Late Model ride

Along with driving his USRA B-Mod, Springfield’s JC Morton has made a successful debut driving a ULMA Late Model this season at Lucas Oil Speedway. In three Late Model starts, he’s finished second two times along with a third-place feature run. (GS Stanek Racing Photography)

MEDIA CONTACT: Lyndal Scranton (Lscranton755@gmail.com)
WHEATLAND, MO. (May 13, 2021) – It can get pretty hectic for JC Morton when pulling double duty during Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series nights at Lucas Oil Speedway – especially when Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mod and Missouri Metal Buildings ULMA Late Model features are back-to-back.
But when you’ve waited as long as Morton has for an opportunity to drive a Late Model, it’s no inconvenience at all.
“I’m just having a lot of fun with it,” said Morton, the 13-year B-Mod veteran who’s leading the Lucas Oil Speedway points in the division and is sixth in the ULMA Late Model standings.
The former USRA B-Mod national champion will be busy again on Saturday when Lucas Oil Speedway is back in action with Round 5 of the Weekly Racing Series. Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company along with OzarksFIRST.com present the action with the Missouri Metal Buildings ULMA Late Models headlining the action with a special 25-lap, $1,000-to-win feature courtesy of Rains Ice.
Morton has one Lucas Oil Speedway B-Mod feature win and is leading the points four weeks into the season. But it’s the Late Model, owned by Sedalia’s Larry Moon, in which he’s forging new territory. Wheeling a Late Model is something he’s always dreamed about.
As a kid growing up in Springfield, Mo., Morton was a Terry Phillips fan much as his father, Gene Morton, had tracked the career of Terry Phillips’ legendary father.
“Dad went to school with Terry and was a die-hard Larry Phillips fan,” Morton said. “Ever since I’ve grown up, Terry has been an idol. He’s always been good in anything he’s jumped in.”
After 13 years and nearly 200 wins, Morton has established himself as one of the nation’s premier B-Mod drivers. Now, the 31-year-old is getting a long-sought opportunity to find out what he can do in a Late Model.
Driving an eight-year-old Rocket Blue-Gray with a home-built motor, Morton has two second-place finishes and a third in three ULMA Late Model features.
“It’s going pretty good. We’ll get him a little seat time and see where it goes,” said Larry Moon, who maintains the car with his brother, Dale Moon, in Sedalia, Mo.
Morton had driven a USRA Modified owned by Dale Moon occasionally the last couple of years, in addition to Morton’s own B-Mod. Moon decided to sell the A-Mod after last season, but teased Morton that he “had a surprise” waiting for him this spring.
“I forgot about it for a couple of months and didn’t hear anything,” Morton said. “Then about a month before the season, he called me and was like, ‘Hey, you want to come to the shop? We have a little surprise for you.’ ”
The Mortons walked in and there sat the Late Model. JC Morton felt like a kid on Christmas morning.
“Dale said, ‘My brother’s gonna let you wheel this thing, along with Will Vaught. What do you think?’ I was like, “All right! That’s awesome.”
Vaught, a former Lucas Oil MLRA champion from Crane, Mo., once owned the car and sold it to Larry Moon a couple of years ago. Vaught has scaled back his racing travel considerably due to business and family commitments, but won Lucas Oil Speedway’s 2021 ULMA season opener in the car.
Morton was on deck to drive it in Week 2, but because of a rain-delayed schedule for a major B-Mod race at Humboldt, Kansas (which Morton won, earning $10,000), he had to bypass test and tune day at Lucas Oil Speedway. That meant his first time driving a Late Model was at speed, on April 17.
Morton finished a close second to defending track champion and ULMA national champion Cole Henson. The result even surprised Morton.
“I was thinking a top-10. We didn’t have a ton of cars that night, but I would never have dreamed of running second and having a little shot at the end of winning it,” Morton said. “Will’s done a really good job of getting the car set up and balanced. It drives really good.”
Morton said the biggest difference between the B-Mod and Late Model is the steering, calling it “way different.”
“The B-mod is easier to adjust to because its a little slower,” Morton said. “You jump into the Late Model and it’s a little touchy at first, but the second night was better than the first. The more seat time I get, I think everything will click.”
Vaught wasn’t particularly surprised by Morton’s quick success in the bigger car.
“He’s done a great job. I knew he would do good in it, especially in a car that he don’t have to work the bugs out of,” Vaught said. “You know that the car would handle well and he got in it and he’s doing well. I’m not surprised. I figured he would do good.
“He’s a successful B-Mod driver. He’s smooth and I knew if he had the opportunity he would do good.”
Vaught has watched video of Morton driving the Late Model and they have traded text messages, with Vaught offering his critique. One bit of advice, Morton said, was to drive the car harder into the turns. Perhaps mindful of his long-awaited opportunity in winning equipment, Morton said he’s easing into a more-aggressive mindset.
“You can’t abuse the equipment,” Morton said. “I told Larry and Dale that I haven’t gone 110 percent yet because I don’t want to go out and crash and tear up their equipment. It takes a lot of respect for an owner to say, ‘Here’s my stuff, drive it.’ You have to respect that back. You see a lot of people who don’t.”
Morton said he would love the opportunity to someday compete in an open Late Model on a bigger stage, such as the MLRA or even Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. Running on the elite Modified level with the United States Modified Touring Series is another ultimate goal.
But he doesn’t have overflowing pockets of money to make either of those things happen.
“You could win the lottery and you’d probably burn through the lottery money in a year’s worth of races,” Morton said. “It’s something you have to hope you get lucky and somebody spots you and sees you and gives you that opportunity.”
For now, Morton will have fun driving both his B-Mod – which he’s already won in four times in 2020 – and chasing his first Late Model victory. Vaught thinks that could happen soon.
“The Moon Brothers have asked me several times to drive it, but like last week, we had a church function and I said, ‘Just let JC keep driving the thing. He does a good job.’ I mean, he’s probably more eager than me right now, as far as racing wise.
“Let him shine a little bit. He’s getting close to breaking through and getting him a win.”
Gates for the dirt track open at 4 p.m. Saturday with hot laps at 6:30 and opening ceremonies at 7:05. Fans purchasing drag boat Saturday or multi-day tickets are admitted free to the dirt track.
Grandstand admission:(Free with Saturday or multi-day drag boat ticket)Adults (16 and over) – $12Seniors (62 and over)/Military – $9Youth (ages 6-15) – $5Kids (5 & under) – FREEFamily Pass – $30Pit Pass – $30
Drag boats busy all weekend: The Kentucky Drag Boat Association’s Spring Opener is set for Friday through Sunday on Lake Lucas. Fans with drag boat tickets on Saturday, or multiple-day passes to the action, will have free admission to the dirt track program.
The KDBA Spring Opener will find action in both pro and sportsman classes. It will be the first of four KDBA events on Lake Lucas this season. Drag boat tickets also serve as a pit pass, allowing fans to see the drag boats up close.
Friday and Saturday schedule:7 a.m. – Registration opens8 a.m. – Spectator gates open9 a.m. – Round 1 qualifying sportsman session10:30 a.m. – Round 1 qualifying pro session12:30 p.m. – Round 2 qualifying sportsman session2 p.m. – Round 2 qualifying pro session
Sunday schedule:8 a.m. – Spectator gates open9 a.m. – Eliminations
Friday grandstand admission:Ages 6 and older (GA/Pit Pass combo) – $10Kids 5 and under (GA/Pit Pass combo) – FREEAdult 3-day GA/Pit Pass combo – $60Seniors (62 and up/Military 3-day GA/Pit Pass combo) – $54Youth (6-15) 3-day GA/Pit Pass – $30All tickets include access to the Drag Boat pit area
Saturday grandstand admission:Ages 16 and older (GA/Pit Pass) – $25Seniors (62 and over)/Military (GA/Pit Pass) – $22Youth (ages 6-16, GA/Pit Pass) – $10Kids 5 and under – FREEFamily pass (GA/Pit Pass combo for two adults and up to 3 kids ages 6-15) – $60Adult 2-day GA-Pit Pass – $50Senior/Military 2-Day (GA/Pit Pass) – $44Youth (6-15) 2-day GA/Pit Pass – $20
Sunday grandstand admission:Ages 16 and older (GA/Pit Pass) – $25Seniors (62 and over)/Military (GA/Pit Pass) – $22Youth (ages 6-16, GA/Pit Pass) – $10Kids 5 and under – FREEFamily pass (GA/Pit Pass combo for two adults and up to 3 kids ages 6-15) – $60
For ticket information for any event during the 2021 Lucas Oil Speedway season, contact Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or via email at Nichole@lucasoilspeedway.com. Fans also can use the online ticketing system.
CONTACT:Danny LortonLucas Oil Speedway General ManagerOffice: (417) 282-5984 DLorton@lucasoilspeedway.com

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