WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Illinois Staple Tracks, Herald & Review 100 and More Headline Hell Tour Week 3

Tyler Carr Photo

Two weeks down, three remain on the 39th annual DIRTcar Summer Nationals, which continues with six Late Model races and five for the UMP Modifieds on the Week 3 schedule.

The action begins Tuesday, June 25, at Springfield Raceway with a Late Model-only event while the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals take the night off. Both divisions will be in action the rest of the week at Tri-City Speedway on Wednesday, Macon Speedway on Thursday, Farmer City Raceway on Friday, Highland Speedway on Saturday and Red Hill Raceway on Sunday.

The Herald & Review 100 at Macon on Thursday marks the 44th running of one of Illinois’ most prestigious motorsports events, which will present a $5,000 grand prize to the winner of the 100-lap main event. Several past Hell Tour champions have conquered 1/5-mile bullring’s narrow confines to win the Summer Nationals’ most historic event, including Brian Shirley, Brandon Sheppard, Shannon Babb, Jason Feger, Bobby Pierce and most recently, Ryan Unzicker.

Tickets for all six races on the Week 3 calendar will be available at the gate on race day. If you can’t be at the track to watch in person, stream every lap live on DIRTVision.

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

TERBO ON TOP – Tyler Erb will continue his stretch with the Summer Nationals for all six Late Model races in Week 3, leading the overall points championship by 33 over Jason Feger.

Erb has added six wins to his Summer Nationals win total this season, bringing him up to 10 career wins on tour. (Tyler Carr Photo)

The 27-year-old from New Waverly, TX, has won six of the first nine races on the schedule – a feat not accomplished since past champions Scott Bloomquist won eight of the first nine in 1990, Billy Moyer won seven of the first nine in 1994 and six of the first nine in 1993. Erb notched three Feature wins during Week 3 competition at Davenport Speedway, Brownstown Bullring and Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, bringing his Summer Nationals career win total up to 10.

This week, Erb faces two tracks he’s won at with the Summer Nationals before. First is Wednesday at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, IL – where he won 11 days ago in the second race of the season – and Sunday at Red Hill Raceway, where he took the checkered flag in his one and only appearance with the Hell Tour in 2022.

WELCOME BACK, WINGER – Ashton Winger, the reigning champion of the DIRTcar Summer Nationals, makes his return to Hell Tour competition with all six events of Week 3 on his calendar.

The 24-year-old racer from Hampton, GA, clinched the 2023 Summer Nationals championship on the back of six Feature wins and two weekly points championships last summer. In doing so, he became the first driver from the state of Georgia to clinch the overall points title and the first driver from outside Illinois to do so since Indiana racer Don O’Neal was crowned Hell Tour champion in 2004.

This year, Winger has been racing primarily around the Southeast, collecting four wins – two in Crate-engine competition and two in DIRTcar Late Model action. Highland Speedway is on the schedule for Sunday, where he won the Summer Nationals race one year ago.

Ashton Winger
Winger in 2023 (Tyler Carr Photo)

WEEK 2 KING – With a win in the Week 2 finale Sunday at Lincoln Speedway, Jason Feger clinched the Week 2 points championship for the second-straight year and now sits only 33 points behind Tyler Erb in the overall Summer Nationals standings.

Feger, 46, of Bloomington, IL, battled Erb throughout the week and came out on top of the Week 2 standings in the end by 21 points. The two will commence head-to-head competition again this week at all six tracks on the schedule – four of which Feger has won Summer Nationals races at before.

The reigning MARS Late Model champion is a past Hell Tour winner at Tri-City Speedway in 2009 and 2010, Highland Speedway in 2015 and 2020 and Farmer City Raceway in 2016. He also won his first career Herald & Review 100 at Macon Speedway in September of 2022, etching his name onto the winner’s list of the Summer Nationals’ most prestigious event.

DUKE OF HERALD – Ryan Unzicker is set for select Summer Nationals starts this week, which includes the Herald & Review 100 at Macon.

Unzicker, the 2011 DIRTcar Late Model national points champion from El Paso, IL, is the defending winner of the Summer Nationals crown jewel, capturing the checkered flag in the 100-lap main event last year. Last week, Unzicker made his presence felt early, capitalizing on a collision between Erb and Feger to take the lead late in the race at Spoon River Speedway and score his 14th career Summer Nationals win.

Unzicker is a two-time Herald & Review 100 winner. (Tyler Carr Photo)

This week, he’s projected to appear at Macon, Farmer City and Highland, going for his third DIRTcar Late Model win of the year.

ALL MODS, ALL THE TIME – The Summit Modified action continues with five races this week, three of which take place at tracks that host UMP Modified racing weekly.

At Macon, Jeremy Nichols sits atop the track standings and is a perfect four-for-four in Victory Lane at the 1/5-mile oval this year, leading points by 18 over Tim Luttrell.

Fairbury, IL-racer Austin Friedman leads the standings at Farmer City with three wins in seven starts, maintaining a 43-point gap over fellow Fairbury-native Caden McWhorter.

At Highland, TJ Eilers, of Saint Jacob, IL, is on top of the weekly standings by 29 points over Zeb Moake but is the only driver inside the top-three without a Feature win. Moake, of Freeburg, IL, has the second-most wins with two, while Highland-native Cody Zobrist tops the win column with three at the 1/4-mile oval.