Home | Divisions | Factory Stocks | UMP DIRTcar Racing Weekly Update: VanWormer Prepping For UMP DIRTcar Summernationals Title Bid; Hammerle & Sweeney Remain National Points Leaders

UMP DIRTcar Racing Weekly Update: VanWormer Prepping For UMP DIRTcar Summernationals Title Bid; Hammerle & Sweeney Remain National Points Leaders

Evansville, IN — VanWormer, 33, of Pinconning , Mich. , certainly stands as the driver most likely to break through as a first-time champion of the Summernationals, the grueling test of Super Late Model men and machines that kicks off its month-long run through the Midwest on June 12 at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway in Calvert City, Ky. Ready to tackle the complete schedule for the fourth consecutive year, he’s paid his dues on a series popularly known as the ‘Hell Tour.’

“We’ve been out there on the road for a few years,” said VanWormer, who drives family-owned equipment under the Iron Motorsports banner. “I think we know what it takes to win on the Summernationals now, so hopefully this will be our year.”

Since becoming a UMP DIRTcar Summernationals stalwart in 2005, VanWormer has watched Shannon Babb of Moweaqua , Ill. (2005-2006) and Dennis Erb of Carpentersville , Ill. (2007) join the 20-year-old tour’s fraternity of champions. Both Babb and Erb reached the pinnacle of the Summernationals after following the series for several seasons, and VanWormer hopes he’s on a similar ascendant path to the Promised Land.

Make no mistake – it takes experience to emerge as a champion of the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals, which this year is set to contest 26 races over a 31-day period. A driver can only obtain that education by hitting the highways and chasing the series like VanWormer has done.

“If you talk to any of the good guys, they say what makes you a better racer is more seat time,” VanWormer said when asked why he began running the Summernationals fulltime in 2005. “Well, there’s no better way to get seat time than to run 30 days in a row. You get to make mistakes last night that you get to think about and correct tonight. You don’t have to wait all the way to the next week to figure it out.

“I feel like my learning curve has sped up quite a bit because of (racing on the Summernationals tour). It has helped me in a lot of different ways.”

Now four years into his Summernationals escapades, VanWormer and his crew have developed “a little system” for handling the rigors of virtually non-stop competition while away from home for a month. It starts with being properly prepared before the tour even begins.

“We’re getting stuff ready now,” VanWormer said with the first Summernationals green flag less than a month away. “You just try to have enough stuff ready to go – extra bodies, parts, tires. If you have to, you go to MasterSbilt (his chassis builder in Indiana ) and get more.

“We bring two (MasterSbilt) cars and usually one spare motor, and – knock on wood – that’s been enough for us. The last few years we’ve pretty much run one car for the whole Summernationals, and we use Cornett engines, so they’re really, really reliable – and that’s important. When you see people have motor problems during the Summernationals, that gets them so off-base because they’re not concentrating on their cars.”

VanWormer and Co. have also realized that concessions must be made to avoid burn-out during the tour.

“When we have days off (this year there are five scheduled, including four on Mondays), we try not to work on the car,” said VanWormer. “We try to go do something fun just to get away.

“When you race that many days in a row, you get used to thinking, ‘Well, we have to maintenance this car every day,’ so you get in a routine. Then a lot of guys go and work on their stuff some more when we get a day off, but we feel like, ‘Man, let’s get away from it for a day, take a break. We’ve done this for seven days straight or whatever, so let’s go and do something different, clear our minds and relax a little.’”

What’s VanWormer’s best piece of advice to Summernationals hopefuls?

“You just can’t get down on yourself,” he said. “You just have to remember that every night is a new night. If you had a bad night, you just have to chalk that up and go into the next one like it’s a brand new day.”

VanWormer has already been in a Summernationals title hunt, finishing second in the points standings to Babb in 2006. He also owns a sixth-place finish in 2005 and a fourth in 2007.

Last year’s points result didn’t please VanWormer, who entered the tour with high hopes. But he did win a career-high three features on the 2007 series – fully half of his six career Summernationals triumphs – and that was a satisfying development.

“Last year we had a bad start (just two top-10s in the first 10 events), so this year our gameplan is to get off to a better start,” said VanWormer, whose 2007 victories came at StormPay.com Clarksville ( Tenn. ) Speedway, Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway and Oakshade Raceway in Wauseon, Ohio. “It would be huge to win the Summernationals championship because we’ve been following it for awhile, but, if nothing else, I’d like to win more races on it. When you start putting together more wins, that’s when the titles come.”

2008 UMP DIRTcar Racing Summernationals Schedule (Date/Day/Track/Location/To Win): June 12 – Thurs. – Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway/Calvert City, KY – $7,500; June 13 – Fri. – Brownstown Speedway/Brownstown, IN – $10,000; June 14 – Sat. – Kamp Motor Speedway/Boswell, IN – $10,000; June 15 – Sun. – Tri-State Speedway/Haubstadt, IN – $6,000; June 16 – Mon – OFF; June 17 – Tues. – Highland Speedway/Highland, IL – $6,000; June 18 – Wed. – Belle Clair Speedway/Belleville, IL – $6,000; June 19 – Thurs. – Jefferson Co. Speedway/Mt. Vernon, IL – $6,000; June 20 – Fri. – Farmer City Raceway/Farmer City, IL – $10,000; June 21 – Sat. – I-55 Raceway/Pevely, MO – $10,000; June 22 – Sun. – Vermilion Co. Speedway/Danville, IL – $6,000; June 23 – Mon. – OFF; June 24 – Tue. – Sedalia State Fair Speedway/Sedalia, MO – $6,000; June 25 – Wed. – Lake Ozark Speedway/Eldon, MO – $6,000; June 26 – Thurs. – Paducah Int’l Raceway/Paducah, KY – $6,000; June 27 – Fri. – Lawrenceburg Speedway/Lawrenceburg, IN – $10,000; June 28 – Sat. – Clarksville Speedway/Clarksville, TN – $10,000; June 29 – Sun. – Lincoln Speedway/Lincoln, IL – $6,000; June 30 – Mon. – OFF; July 1 – Tue. – Peoria Speedway/Peoria, IL – $6,000; July 2 – Wed. – Morgan Co. Speedway/Jacksonville, IL – $6,000; July 3 – Thurs. – Macon Speedway/Macon, IL – $6,000; July 4 – Fri. – Tri-City Speedway/Pontoon Beach, IL – $10,000; July 5 – Sat. – Fairbury American Legion; Speedway/Fairbury, IL -$10,000; July 6 – Sun. – Quad City Raceway/East Moline, IL – $6,000; July 7 – Mon. – OFF; July 8 – Tue. – Quincy Raceway/Quincy, IL – $6,000; July 9 – Wed. – Spoon River Speedway/Canton, IL – $6,000; July 10 – Thurs. – La Salle Speedway/La Salle, IL – $6,000; July 11 – Fri. – OFF; July 12 – Sat. – Oakshade Raceway/Wauseon, OH – $10,000

STILL STANDING: Mike Hammerle of St. Charles , Mo. (Super Late Models) and Randle Sweeney of Clifty , Ky. (Open-Wheel Modifieds) remained on top of their respective UMP DIRTcar national points races following strong weekend performances.

The 60-year-old Hammerle’s weekend was highlighted by a feature win on May 20 at Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville , Ill. , keeping him in the Super Late Model points lead for a third consecutive week.

Sweeney, meanwhile, continued to run roughshod over the UMP DIRTcar Modified competition, adding wins on May 16 at Paducah ( Ky. ) International Raceway and May 17 at Soggy Bottom Raceway in Morgantown , Ky. , to his ledger. He’s now won nine times this season, including five straight and six of his last seven starts.

NOTABLE UMP DIRTcar RACING THIS WEEKEND:

* It’s a big holiday weekend for UMP DIRTcar Modified racing in Illinois , with three special events within a short distance.

Farmer City Raceway kicks off the weekend with a $2,000-to-win show on Friday night (May 23), followed by an identical program paying $2,000 to win on Saturday night (May 24) at Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Both cards will include a $400-to-win Non-Qualifiers’ Race if there’s more than 60 cars entered.

The weekend will conclude on Sunday night (May 25) with the $3,000-to-win David Richardson Memorial at Vermilion County Speedway in Danville , Ill.

* Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach , Ill. , headlines the weekend’s UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model action, hosting the Fed-Ex 50 on Sunday night (May 25). A $10,000 top prize will be on the line.

* ‘UMP Modified Mania’ will take place on Friday night (May 23) at Moler Raceway Park in Williamsburg , Ohio . The division will race for $1,500 to win and $125 to start.

UMP DIRTcar RACING INFO: Log on to www.dirtcar.com for more information on UMP DIRTcar Racing and to view complete points standings for all divisions.

ATTENTION: Any UMP DIRTcar track or race team with news that could be used in the ‘UMP DIRTcar Racing Weekly Update’ release can e-mail the info to Kevin Kovac at kkovac@dirtcar.com.

UMP DIRTcar Racing National Points Standings (as of May 19):

Super Late Models (driver/points/races):
1. Mike Hammerle 813 18
2. Jason McBride 729 15
3. Michael Kloos 700 15
4. Dennis Erb Jr. 663 10
5. Brad Looney 654 10
6. Rusty Schlenk 636 11
7. Ryan Unzicker 627 13
8. Rusty Griffaw 619 12
9. Chris Shelton 619 14
10. Wes Steidinger 604 10
11. Steve Francis 569 7
12. Tony Albright 541 9
13. Brian Diveley 537 12
14. Jason Feger 537 9
15. Ed Dixon 534 11
16. Billy Moyer 506 6
17. Steve Sheppard Jr. 497 10
18. Frankie Martin 480 9
19. Chuck Proctor 477 8
20. Kerry Mathew 469 9

Open-Wheel Modifieds (driver/points/races):
1. Randle Sweeney 1268 17
2. Kent Robinson 1194 18
3. Tim Hancock 1055 16
4. Denny Schwartz 979 17
5. Chad Evans 920 18
6. Jeff Leka 882 14
7. Gary Cook Jr. 860 14
8. Mike Spatola 837 15
9. R.C. Whitwell 828 11
10. Anthony Madrid 763 11
11. Jon Henry 740 14
12. Chad Osterhoff 725 12
13. Matt Boknecht 708 10
14. Clayton Miller 707 12
15. Matt Bex 691 11
16. John DeMoss 689 10
17. Jason Noll 689 11
18. Danny Schwartz 678 12
19. Clint DeMoss 675 11
20. Nick Allen 669 10

Pro Late Models (driver/points/races):
1. Kevin Hardin 726 12
2. Josh Harris 692 12
3. Tait Davenport 684 9
4. Jason Jones 680 14
5. Duane Hodges 646 10
6. Phil Gregory 624 12
7. Levi Ashby 589 12
8. Caleb Ashby 544 10
9. Carnell Parker 479 7
10. Matt Liner 417 7

Sportsman (driver/points/races):
1. Chris Hillman 766 12
2. Troy Clark 676 13
3. Brad Cummings 641 11
4. Shawn Daugharty 580 9
5. Bruce Westerman 550 9
6. Derrick Hufford 533 8
7. Don Newcomb 515 8
8. Jeremy Hines 513 10
9. Anthony Jackson 500 7
10. Clayton Perry 494 9

Limited Modifieds (driver/points/races):
1. Jonathan Clayton 475 7
2. Brandon Buhler 473 7
3. John Paul Talkington 433 7
4. Matthew Holmes 375 6
5. Will Duncan 373 6
6. Bryan Barrett 357 7
7. Derek Brooks 340 5
8. Robb Madrid 340 5
9. Bryan Henry 330 5
10. Evan Delahoussaye 325 5

Street Stocks (driver/points/races):
1. Travis Myers 676 11
2. Jerrad Krick 619 8
3. Josh Griffith 595 10
4. Randy Arnold 545 11
5. Jon Wix 538 9
6. Steve Ewing 534 10
7. Brad Taylor 517 10
8. Aaron Penton 513 10
9. Grady Christian 509 7
10. Chris Fisher 498 8

4-Cylinders (driver/points/races):
1. Joe Reed 772 11
2. Jeffrey Bailey 634 11
3. Jeff Rittenberry 616 9
4. Keaton Downing 600 10
5. Michael Rittenberry 597 10
6. Travis Staats 575 8
7. Michael Perrigo 573 9
8. Bob Zbinden 547 9
9. Daniel Stephens 537 9
10. Charlie Staats 511 8

Factory Stocks (driver/points/races):
1. Mickey Hines 450 7
2. William Burton 438 7
3. Willie Sallee 406 7
4. Cody Vanosdol 397 6
5. Bodi Henry 362 6
6. Mark Bruce 359 7
7. Josh Phelps 338 7
8. Bill Moore 333 7
9. Donnie Wilson 305 7
10. Clay Ellison 303 7