Rossburg,OH — Jason Feger will receive more attention than he ever has before at Eldora Speedway when he takes to the famed half-mile oval for the 39th annual UMP DIRTcar Racing-sanctioned World 100 this weekend (Sept. 11-12).
That’s because the 31-year-old from Bloomington, Ill., is rolling into the most prestigious dirt Late Model event of the season as UMP DIRTcar Racing’s national points leader.
A dirt Late Model racer since 2001, Feger is chasing his first career UMP DIRTcar national crown. He enters the weekend holding a mere 10-point lead over two-time defending national champion Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., but with eight of his career-best 18 feature wins this season coming over the past month he has plenty of momentum on his side.
Throw in the fact that Feger happens to be one of just 12 drivers who have qualified for the last three crown-jewel UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned Super Late Model events at Eldora – the World 100 in 2007 and 2008 and June’s $100,000 Dream XV – and there’s no denying that he’s a guy to watch.
“It’s hard to take a lot confidence into the World (100) because it’s just such a tough deal,” said Feger, who finished 17th (2007) and 18th (2008) in his previous World 100 A-Main starts and placed 16th in the Dream earlier this year. “That’s the race everybody takes their best stuff to and prepares extra-hard for, and with so many cars (entered) there’s not a whole lot of room for error. You need to have some luck on your side.
“But I feel pretty good about our chances. Our car has been really good this year, I’ve been driving good, and I really like running at Eldora. We’ve had some success there the last couple years, so hopefully everything will click for us and we’ll get in the race again and get a good finish.”
Feger will go into battle this weekend behind the wheel of a family-owned car built by 1990 UMP DIRTcar national champion Bob Pierce, who finished as high as third in the World 100 during his successful driving career. A freshened powerplant from Rhyne Competition Engines will be bolted inside Feger’s ‘tumbling dice’ No. 25, which will sport a slightly different graphics scheme than he’s used all season and carry the logos of two new sponsors, Stearn Ironworks and Jaxon Chase Steel Detailing, that he recently signed for the remainder of 2009.
Demonstrating his growing popularity around the Midwest, the personable Feger will also have a merchandise trailer parked along Eldora’s T-Shirt Row for the first time. He’ll have plenty of sharp swag for sale – all of it designed by his family’s Absolute Apparel business, where he works when he’s not going racing.
This season, of course, racing has taken up much of Feger’s time. The driver known as the ‘Highside Hustler’ has made nearly 70 starts during his official coming-of-age campaign and been a contender for the checkered flag in most of them.
After earning the 2008 UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model Most Improved Driver Award following a 13-win season that ended with a third-place finish in the national points standings, Feger has busted out as an all-over threat this season. His 18 victories have come at an amazing 13 different tracks in four states, including four wins at Kamp Motor Speedway in Boswell, Ind.; two at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill.; and single scores at Wisconsin’s Charter Raceway Park (his first-ever World of Outlaws Late Model Series triumph), Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway, Missouri’s Lake Ozark Speedway and Illinois’s Charleston Speedway, Fairbury American Legion Speedway, Farmer City Raceway, Highland Speedway Kankakee County Speedway, Lincoln Speedway, Peoria Speedway and Shepp’s Speedway.
“I think I’ve matured a lot as a driver in the last couple years,” said Feger, analyzing his rise to UMP DIRTcar stardom. “I’ve calmed down and learned to race smarter. That’s just come for experience, from seat-time.
“And we’ve worked harder in the garage to be prepared. Just going to the track knowing that everything is prepared the way it should be has made me a better driver this year.”
The run of success has put Feger on the verge of unseating Erb, 36, as the UMP DIRTcar national champion, an honor that will be determined using drivers’ best 40 finishes/points nights. Feger grabbed the points lead at the beginning of August and hasn’t relinquished it since, but he knows he can’t make any missteps if he wants to stay atop the standings through the points-season-ending UMP DIRTcar Nationals on Oct. 9-10 at Eldora.
Feger and Erb figure to see a lot of each other over the remaining weeks of the UMP DIRTcar points season. They’ll probably enter the same events each weekend, setting up a dramatic head-to-head battle to the finish.
“He’s going to be tough to beat,” Feger said of Erb, who is attempting to sweep the UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals and national points titles for the third consecutive season. “He’s really good everywhere we’ll be going the rest of the year and he knows what he’s doing in these points races. You don’t see him break and fall out of races, so if we’re gonna win this thing we’re just gonna have to keep beating him.”
If Feger holds on to win the title, he’ll have earned it. He’ll also cherish the accomplishment.
“It would mean a lot,” Feger said when asked about the significance of a UMP DIRTcar national crown. “The money would be great, sure, but it would also give us some recognition that will help us when we talk to product sponsors. And I know (a championship) would mean a lot to Bob and Angie Pierce. They’ve worked so hard on this chassis deal (Feger began running Pierce cars last year) and they deserve the success we’re having.”
Feger paused. Considering his own march through the UMP DIRTcar ranks that started in the Sportsman division, he said, “Knowing where we came from, how we’ve been building our stuff up over the years, a championship would be very satisfying. We’ve sort of done it our way and that always makes you feel good.”
This weekend’s World 100 activities at Eldora Speedway begin on Friday night (Sept. 11) with time trials and non-qualifiers’ races. Heat races, last-chance events and the $42,000-to-win World 100 will be contested on Saturday night (Sept. 12).
For more information on the World 100, visit www.eldoraspeedway.com.
Log on to www.dirtcar.com for more information on UMP DIRTcar Racing and to view complete points standings for all divisions.