Wheatland, Missouri (March 9, 2021) – It wasn’t until the final days, or should we say hours, leading up to the 2020 MLRA season opener that Garrett Alberson finally found himself back in the drivers seat. After spending a pair of seasons turning wrenches as crew chief for Earl Pearson Jr., the now 32 year old knew that he wanted another shot at proving himself as a championship caliber driver. Enter car owner Ken Roberts. Roberts and his team, with driver Jeremiah Hurst were preparing to make the jump into the open late model ranks in pursuit of the Lucas Oil MLRA Rookie of the Year title. Alberson, with his role at Black Diamond Chassis, and Roberts spent numerous hours brainstorming over the phone and working together on set-ups to help make the team’s Black Diamond Chassis faster for Hurst. Roberts knew of Alberson’s desire to return to the cock-pit and went as far as trying to help him land a ride with another team, only to see the opportunity stall out last year due to Covid. Roberts admits the thought to add Alberson as a second driver crossed his mind, but he was not ready to put that added burden of work and preparation on his crew. That was until he had a late night discussion prompted by Hurst. Roberts recalls, “On the way home from one of our races Jeremiah said to me, Ken you and Garrett are always talking and he wants to race, have him come run this other car.” It was that urging and support from Hurst that led to Roberts reaching out to Alberson and offering him the opportunity to join the team. However, Alberson originally declined the opportunity to pilot the teams second car, fearing that it could take away from their goals with Hurst. Alberson told Roberts, “You guys are new to this open motor and I don’t want to take away from your goals, you’ve got some pretty hefty goals with the MLRA. I want to be here to help brainstorm, but I don’t want to take away from the team,” a decision that Roberts respected. Just a week prior to the season opener, Alberson reached back out and took Roberts up on his offer, and along with wife Dani packed up and left for the teams Dubuque, IA headquarters. With only a couple days before the series opener he was content on being a part of the crew for the opening weekend, but Hurst had other ideas. “Jeremiah called me that Wednesday and said you know our cars are ready, let’s just have him drive right from the get go. I was like are you sure? They said yes, we got the time, let’s do it,” Roberts recalls.
Alberson collected Back-To-Back Fast Time Awards at the 2020 MLRA Fall Nationals. Lloyd Collins--FastTrack Photos
Fast forward to 2021. With a year of team chemistry and an off season of preparation in the books, Alberson is excited at his chances for the season ahead. “I’ve been down here in Shreveport putting our race cars together, and I think we are going to have a couple of really nice new Black Diamonds. The car part is going to be a lot further ahead of where we were last year,” explained Alberson “We will already understand how to do things together as a team and have already gelled. Everybody gets along really well and the whole group of guys is really awesome to work with, and now we’ve got a little confidence going into the year.” Although they were plagued with bad luck to start the 2020 season, Alberson and team managed to steadily climb the ladder race by race coming home 5th in the MLRA’s final season standings. The Las Cruces, NM native recorded four top five finishes, in addition to sweeping the Lucas Slick Mist Fast Time award in both nights of the MLRA Fall Nationals. Add to it a pair of non-series wins including a $10k win in the Harvest Hustle at Sycamore Speedway, and it’s not hard to see why they are excited for the season ahead. “Driving for Ken is awesome. I am super fortunate and really blessed to be in this situation. The thing I like about driving for Ken is that every time that car hits the track he wants to be the fastest car on the track. It doesn’t matter if it is hot laps, practice night, or qualifying. From the beginning to the end, he wants both cars to be on top of the board. He is all in and willing to push hard on the drivers and the cars to make it happen, so it’s pretty exciting to be able to drive for somebody that is all in on running good.” Roberts holds high hopes and expectations for Alberson heading into the MLRA opener. “I think Garrett is going to have a breakout season," he explained. He has built these cars from the ground up and he knows everything about it. He has been around the right people to know the set-ups and mechanics of it, and he studies the driving aspect of it.” “Neither of us had an MLRA win but both of us got pretty close,” Alberson said of 2020. “With the preparation and the equipment that Ken has put us in this year I think both of us will have our best shot ever of having a really strong year. I’m going into the year with some really high expectations and will just have to see what the racing gives us, but I think we have a good shot at having a competitive year and running for the title.”