Like the summer temperatures, Ashton Winger has been heating up recently and threw another load of coal in the fire with his second Feature win in two weeks Wednesday night at Adams County (IL) Speedway.
Winger, 23, of Senoia, GA, is in hot pursuit of his first DIRTcar Summer Nationals championship this year, aiming to compete in every race on the 38th annual Hell Tour calendar. Since his first win of the summer one week ago at Davenport Speedway, Winger has finished on the podium in every Feature except one and extended that streak Wednesday with his eighth career Summer Nationals Feature win.
From fifth on the grid, Winger worked his way to second in the first 10 laps, trailing only polesitter Drake Troutman after a quick restart. Troutman was ripping his Jay Dickens/Longhorn #7 – with duct tape numbers and all – around the 1/4-mile bullring at a torrid pace on the high side, opening an advantage of over two full seconds at one point before reaching lapped traffic.
“When I got to second, Drake was just setting a pace that I didn’t really feel comfortable going with that early,” Winger said. “I just kinda bided my time.”
Winger stayed patient on the bottom, waiting for his opportunity to get by the leader as Troutman continued his pace on the top. That opportunity revealed itself on a Lap 22 restart when Troutman slipped off the edge of the banking in Turns 1-2, opening the door for Winger, Billy Moyer Jr. and outside polesitter Justin Reed to go by underneath him.
Now with the lead, Winger decided to stay on the bottom – a place he’s not often found late in the going – and continue his march to the finish.
“It’s weird for me leading races on the bottom,” Winger said. “When I’m leading on the bottom, I’m just waiting for guys to blow by me on the top because I’m so hard-headed about trying to carry corner speed.”
But that challenge from above was never presented. Winger’s competition stayed in the rearview through the final laps as he continued to ride the bottom lane. Though no opponents behind him were able to give him a scare, the same could not be said for those directly in front of him.
With three laps-to-go, Winger drove into Turn 1 behind a four-pack of slower cars, racing for position in multiple grooves. All four of them made contact at the apex of the corner, sending three of them spinning within feet of Winger’s nose. As Winger checked-up and slammed hard on the brakes, a hole opened-up right before he was about to drive into the rear of Kye Blight. Winger was able to escape through the path without any contact and retained the lead for the final restart.
“I followed in the corner behind [Blight], and he did a pretty good job just holding his lane,” Winger said. “I kinda saw the seas part there, and I was in the right place at the right time. I really thought I was gonna get the front clip knocked off my car.”
For the second time this season, Winger drove the Jeff Mathews Motorsports, Durham/Rocket #12 across the stripe first and bagged another $5,000 grand prize. After Victory Lane, a special shoutout went to a friend of his that helped in putting the winning operation together.
“Say hey to my buddy Goose back home,” he said with a smile. “That’s Jeff’s baby girl down in Florida – she runs the whole deal.”
The DIRTcar Summer Nationals Late Models continue Week 3 action with a visit to Benton Speedway in Benton, MO, on Thursday, July 29. Tickets will be sold at the gate; streaming is available on DIRTVision.
Feature (40 Laps): 1. 12-Ashton Winger; 2. 25-Jason Feger; 3. 14M-Morgan Bagley; 4. 18-Shannon Babb; 5. 7-Drake Troutman; 6. 58-Tyler Clem; 7. 21J-Billy Moyer Jr; 8. 1ST-Justin Reed; 9. 7B-Mark Burgtorf; 10. 30-Mark Voigt; 11. 4G-Bob Gardner; 12. 31AUS-Kye Blight; 13. 16-Rusty Griffaw; 14. 38-Thomas Hunziker; 15. AUS1-Brent Vosbergen; 16. 25T-Tucker Finch; 17. 4D-Doug Tye; 18. 2M-Matt Mickelson; 19. 23NZ-Mick Quin; 20. 42H-Johnathan Huston; 21. 7P-David Payne; 22. 15-Chris Fetter; 23. 45-Jason Denning; 24. 19X-Cody Bauer; 25. (DNS) 12Q-Brandon Queen