WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Championship Week Set for Trips to Michigan, Ohio

Four-straight weeks of Late Model and UMP Modified racing have brought the 38th annual DIRTcar Summer Nationals Hell Tour down to its final week of competition, where the overall Late Model points champion will be crowned in the season finale as the tour ventures east.

Jason Feger, the 2010 Summer Nationals champion from Bloomington, IL, claimed his second weekly points title in Week 4, highlighted by three runner-up finishes, besting young Georgian Ashton Winger by 20 points at the end of the five-race stretch. Winger was also strong throughout the week and scored a $10,000 victory in a thrilling end to Saturday’s Feature at Highland Speedway, putting him in command in the overall championship standings by 17 points over Feger.

The DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals also ventures into its fifth week of racing and will visit a lineup of tracks home to a slew of new competitors to the roster. Points leader Tyler Nicely further padded his lead in Week 4, winning his fourth Feature of the season Tuesday at Tri-City Speedway and posting two more podium finishes later in the week to bring him up to a 380-point lead in the standings.

Week 5 Schedule
Thursday, July 13 – Butler Motor Speedway (Quincy, MI)
Friday, July 14 – Hartford Speedway (Hartford, MI)
Saturday, July 15 – Oakshade Raceway (Wauseon, OH) [25th annual Birthday Race]
Sunday, July 16 – Wayne County Speedway (Orrville, OH)

CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: CLICK HERE for DIRTcar Summer Nationals Late Models and DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals overall points standings.

Tickets for each Week 5 event will be sold at the gate on race day. If you can’t make it to your favorite tracks, watch all the action live on DIRTVision.

Here are the drivers to watch and the storylines to follow this week:

THE HOME STRETCH – With only four races left on the Late Model schedule, Ashton Winger is inching closer to his first career Summer Nationals championship.

With six wins in 2021 and five already in 2023, Winger is now tied for 16th on the all-time Feature wins list. (Josh James Artwork)

When the summer began, the 23-year-old from Senoia, GA, set out on the road with the entire 28-race stretch on his schedule and the overall points championship as his ultimate goal. Five Feature wins, 11 top-fives and 17 top-10 finishes in 20 races have put him atop the overall points standings by 17 over Jason Feger. For his efforts thus far, Winger banked the Week 3 points championship, adding another $10,000 to his hefty winnings total.

Though he’ll face a roster of tough local racers in Michigan and Ohio this week, Winger has had success on the Hell Tour in both states in the past, claiming victory during his last full-time season in 2021 at both Oakshade Raceway (OH), Thunderbird Raceway (MI), Tri-City Motor Speedway (MI) and Merritt Speedway (MI).

FAMILIAR FACE – After coming so close to his first career Summer Nationals win in the first three weeks of the tour, Drake Troutman has regrouped and is headed back out on the Hell Tour trail for the final week in search of that elusive first victory.

Troutman, 18, of Hyndman, PA, turned heads early this summer, consistently running up front and competing for wins in several races but was unable to break through to Victory Lane after multiple flat tires, crashes and the wrath of stiff competition.

First, there was the blown tire while leading at Moberly Motorsports Park. Then another flat ruined his top-three run going at Davenport Speedway the following night. He settled for third a few nights later at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 after a three-way battle for the lead in the closing laps, then was involved in a hard crash with Kye Blight in a Heat Race the next night at Lincoln Speedway. Next came the last-race pass from Ashton Winger to spoil Troutman’s party at Benton Speedway, and another blown tire ruined his late-race lead at Paducah International Raceway the next night.

Troutman aims to become the youngest Summer Nationals Feature winner since Tyler Reddick in July 2014 at Highland Speedway when he was 18 years old. (Josh James Artwork)

Troutman has since regrouped with the team back in Pennsylvania, and even won a few local events during his week away. He’s got all four Summer Nationals races on his schedule for Week 5 and will be racing with plenty of vengeance in his heart as aims to right the wrongs he suffered at the hands of misfortune weeks ago and claim one of the biggest wins of his career.

BAUER POWER – Chad Bauer won the first two Summit Modified Features of his career last year in Michigan and Ohio. This year, he’s back for more in search of another trophy against the toughest UMP Modified racers in the region.

Bauer, of Farwell, MI, claimed victory in back-to-back weeks on the Hell Tour in 2022, winning the Modified portion of the 24th annual Birthday Race at Oakshade before returning to Victory Lane one week later at Merritt Speedway. Both wins were shining moments in the Modified career of the now-50-year-old Bauer, showcasing his skills behind the wheel against a deep field of younger talent.

In 2023, Bauer has taken command of the weekly DIRTcar-sanctioned Modified racing at Butler Motor Speedway with two Feature wins and the track points lead coming into the Summit Modified Nationals’ tour stop there on Thursday.

SUMMIT OF THE MOUNTAIN – When Tyler Nicely set out on the trail of the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals this summer, a hoisting of multiple Feature winner’s trophies and championship gold were the two foremost goals atop his list.

Nicely, 27, of Owensboro, KY, has four Feature wins in fourteen starts on tour this summer. Now all he needs is the series points championship, which he currently sits 380 points up on second-place Kyle Steffens.

Nicely has nearly doubled his career win total this season, coming into 2023 with five career victories and collecting four already this summer with six more Summit Modified races still on the schedule. (Josh James Artwork)

The two-time regional champion has plans to travel to all four tracks on the schedule in Week 5 and will put his skills to the test against several tracks and drivers he doesn’t often compete against in Michigan and Ohio. These five races will be part of his last round of tune-ups before heading back to Fairbury Speedway, July 28-29, in search of his second Modified Prairie Dirt Classic win and his first career Summit Modified championship.

LOCAL STAR – When the Summer Nationals comes to Michigan, Dona Marcoullier is rarely off his game.

The 39-year-old from Houghton Lake, MI, won his first two Summer Nationals races at Tri-City Motor Speedway in the last three years, besting some strong regional and national-level talent at one of his home tracks. Both of the fan-popular wins were shining moments in the former Modified racer’s career and a testament to his skills around the Michigan tracks.

This year, Marcoullier is back for another shot at Hell Tour Victory Lane. He’s got seven wins so far this year in local action, all of which have come against the best Late Model talent Michigan has to offer.