A stretch of six races in six days through three different states is set to commence on the 38th annual DIRTcar Summer Nationals as the Hell Tour heads for Week 2.
Multi-time champions Brian Shirley and Bobby Pierce reaped the rewards during Week 1, sharing wins in each of the five races – three for Shirley and two for Pierce. Though Shirley now leads the overall Late Model points standings, both drivers are not projected to compete with the tour this week as they return to full-time World of Outlaws CASE Late Model Series competition in Kansas.
Four different winners headlined the first week of DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals action, with Kyle Steffens taking the points lead after four races. A five-race slate is on tap for the Modifieds this week; Wednesday, June 21 will be an off-day, featuring Late Models only at Davenport Speedway.
Week 2 Schedule
Tuesday, June 20 – Moberly Motorsports Park (Moberly, MO)
Wednesday, June 21 – Davenport Speedway (Davenport, IA) [Late Models only]
Thursday, June 22 – Spoon River Speedway (Lewistown, IL)
Friday, June 23 – Brownstown Bullring (Brownstown, IL)
Saturday, June 24 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Sunday, June 25 – Lincoln Speedway (Lincoln, IL)
Tickets for each Week 2 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:
GREEN MACHINE – Jason Feger had a solid first week out on the trail of the Summer Nationals, posting two runners-up and no finishes worse than ninth. With his second runner-up to Brian Shirley on Sunday at Sycamore, he moved into second place in Week 1 points and took home the $5,000 points fund check for his weeklong efforts.
Feger, the 2010 Hell Tour champion from Bloomington, IL, is projected to take over the overall Summer Nationals points lead during Week 2, as Shirley – the Week 1 points winner – will head west to continue his run for a national championship with the World of Outlaws CASE Late Model Series this week.
Feger’s decorated Midwest racing career includes Feature wins at several tracks on the Week 2 schedule, including Davenport Speedway (Aug. 28, 2022 with World of Outlaws); Spoon River Speedway (May 28 with Midwest Auto Racing Series [MARS]); Brownstown Bullring (June 23, 2011 with Summer Nationals); and Lincoln Speedway (July 3, 2022 with Summer Nationals).
CONSISTENCY COUNTS – Frank Heckenast Jr. also had a strong stretch through Week 1 and was the only other driver to post top-10 finishes in all five events, with a best run of second Friday at Tri-City Speedway.
Heckenast, the former World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year from Frankfort, IL, has plans to take on the entire Week 2 schedule, vying for another shot at a $10,000 check as champion of the weekly points standings. He currently sits third in overall Summer Nationals points, 59 points out of the top spot.
Though he’s yet to win in Summer Nationals competition at any of the tracks on the Week 2 docket, he did capture a MARS victory at Davenport Speedway in June 2020. This week, he’ll be going for his first Hell Tour Feature win since that year.
FIRST WEEK ADVERSITY – What began as a rough first week out on his quest for a Summer Nationals championship turned out much better for Ashton Winger.
After taking a DNF in the season opener Wednesday at Peoria Speedway, Winger – the 23-year-old from Senoia, GA – rebounded well, posting three-straight top-10 finishes to end Week 1. That put him back in the thick of the overall standings, now riding in the sixth spot, 108 points out of the lead.
He and the Jeff Mathews Motorsports team brought a truckload of spare parts and equipment with them as they prepare for the long-haul, planning to compete in all 28 events on the schedule this season.
HOT START – Kyle Steffens currently leads the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals standings, 36 points up on second-place Tyler Nicely.
The St. Charles, MO-native posted a streak of four top-five finishes in all four Summit Modified races last week with a runner-up Thursday at Kankakee. Though he’s never won a Summit Modified Feature, Steffens’ chances are as high as ever with two DIRTcar UMP Modified wins already recorded this year.
He’s set for competition in select events in Week 2 and several other Summit Modified events dotted throughout the season as he aims to get a full, points-paying 12 races this summer.
ROLLER COASTER RIDE – It was an up-and-down Week 1 for current DIRTcar UMP Modified national points leader Tyler Nicely on the journey for his first Summit Modified championship.
Nicely, 27, of Owensboro, KY, currently sits second in the standings, 36 back of leader Kyle Steffens after four races. He began the week strong, running second in a photo finish to Illinois rival Allen Weisser at Peoria Speedway, followed by his first-ever Feature win at Kankakee County Speedway on Thursday. That preceded a rough start to his night at Tri-City on Friday, where he tangled with another car in his Heat, forcing him to take a provisional and come from 23rd on the grid to finish sixth in the Feature.
His outing Saturday at Fairbury Speedway was quiet as Nicely missed the transfer cutoff in his Heat and opted to take another Feature provisional, which ended with a 22nd-place finish, handing the points lead over to Kyle Steffens.
Nicely is projected to be back in action with the Modifieds at select events in Week 2, trying to reclaim the points lead he held during most of Week 1.
DIRTcar Summer Nationals Late Models Overall Points Standings (view full standings)
1. Brian Shirley – 352 points
2. Jason Feger – 312 points (-40)
3. Frank Heckenast Jr. – 293 points (-59)
4. Dennis Erb Jr. – 288 points (-64)
5. Bob Gardner – 253 points (-99)
6. Ashton Winger – 244 points (-108)
7. Ethan Dotson – 243 points (-109)
8. Tommy Sheppard Jr. – 241 points (-111)
9. Shannon Babb – 221 points (-131)
10. Forrest Trent – 180 points (-172)