Fifty-nine DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals Feature wins. Six Summit Modified championships. A record eight DIRTcar UMP Modified national points titles. And now, at 48 years young and 27 years into his racing career, Mike Harrison is a DIRTcar Late Model Feature winner.
Harrison, of Highland, IL, piloted the Steve Lampley-owned #33 to his first-ever Late Model Feature win Tuesday night at Tri-City Speedway, leading all 30 laps on the way to Victory Lane to become only the third driver in Hell Tour history to have both a Late Model and Summit Modified Feature win in their career (Levi Kissinger, Dona Marcoullier).
Prior to the start of the season, team heads Steve Lampley and Randy Korte reached out to Harrison about being their driver for 2023, which he accepted despite having only limited past experience in the seat of the full-fendered machines. However, Harrison welcomed the new challenge with open arms, having already checked so many items off the bucket list in the UMP Modified world.
“Randy’s been around with Steve a long time in housing that car for [him],” Harrison said. “That was all kind of a gel, and it was a matter of me and Randy and my boys and their crew – Steve, Eric, Tyler, Schuster… there’s so many people that play an important role in all of it.”
Before Tuesday, the team had recorded multiple top-10 finishes, but had been barred from Victory Lane. That all changed when Harrison led flag-to-flag Tuesday, nearly unchallenged, to secure the $5,000 grand prize.
Since taking over the reins at the start of the year, Harrison said he’s been getting more and more comfortable in the car with every race. But after only a few laps Tuesday, he knew this time could be his time.
“From the drop of the green in Hot Laps, I actually felt better than I ever have,” Harrison said. “Hopefully, we’ve finally found something that I like in the feel.
“As soon as I Hot Lapped, I got out and told Randy [Korte] and I said, ‘That’s good. That’s good,’” Harrison said. “We didn’t really change a whole lot all night.”
Harrison won his Heat Race and redrew the pole for the Feature, which he wasted no time in taking advantage of, sprinting out to a massive lead in traffic that stood as large as over five full seconds before a caution flag on Lap 24 erased it.
“I didn’t want to see the yellow, but I was pretty confident when we went back green that I was gonna be able to go back to the same thing I was doing,” Harrison said. “But that’s the difference in this Late Model world – you never know where they’re at behind you. You never know when somebody finds something different.”
With the likes of Gordy Gundaker and Jason Feger on his tail for the restart, Harrison kept cool and hit his marks, fending off the pressure from behind to collect his first career DIRTcar Summer Nationals Feature win.
“The way the car felt to me – I was totally confident in going back to doing exactly what I was doing before,” Harrison said. “I was just really comfortable all night long with what changes we made coming here.”
The Summer Nationals Late Models continue Week 4 competition Wednesday, July 5 at Red Hill Raceway in Sumner, IL. Tickets will be on sale at the gate; streaming available at DIRTVision.com.
Feature (30 Laps): 1. 33-Mike Harrison; 2. 25-Jason Feger; 3. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 4. 12-Ashton Winger; 5. 31AUS-Kye Blight; 6. 91-Rusty Schlenk; 7. 89-Mike Spatola; 8. 14G-Trevor Gundaker; 9. 18-Shannon Babb; 10. 44-Blaze Burwell; 11. 82-Billy Laycock; 12. 15-Clayton Stuckey; 13. 4G-Bob Gardner; 14. 16-Rusty Griffaw; 15. 51-Dean Carpenter; 16. 38-Thomas Hunziker; 17. 78S-Steve Stultz; 18. 51B-Brandon Carpenter; 19. 23NZ-Mick Quin; 20. 14M-Reid Millard; 21. 30-Mark Voigt; 22. 4D-Doug Tye