Concord, NC — Jason Feger won’t be an anonymous first-time visitor to The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway when he drives through the pit gate for the postponed Topless Showdown by Hungry Man (Nov. 4) and the World of Outlaws World Finals (Nov. 5-7).
Once a driver wins a prestigious title, after all, he becomes impossible to overlook.
So it is with Feger, a 31-year-old from Bloomington, Ill., who is heading for the big stage of The Dirt Track to top off a spectacular 2009 season that saw him emerge as the UMP DIRTcar Racing Super Late Model national champion.
“Since we won the championship we’ve gone to some tracks where fans have never seen us much before,” said Feger, who clinched the crown one week before the UMP DIRTcar points season ended with the organization’s Nationals on Oct. 9-10 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. “A lot of fans came up to talk to me and I heard a lot of compliments, so you realize that winning the championship is a pretty big deal. More people know who you are.”
Feger figures to find himself in much the same situation at The Dirt Track. With his national title and 23 feature wins (at a remarkable 13 different tracks in four states) stamping him as one of the country’s most successful dirt Late Model drivers in ’09, he’ll have plenty of eyes focused on him throughout the four days of competition for the World of Outlaws Late Model Series.
Yes, expectations will be high for Feger, but he’s ready for the challenge. Though this will be the first time he’s ever seen the gorgeous four-tenths-mile oval in person, he plans to do his best to live up to the hype.
“I’m going to run as hard as I can, just like I always do,” said Feger, a personable racer whose distinctive style has earned him the nickname the ‘Highside Hustler.’ “Everybody I talk to (about The Dirt Track) says I’m gonna like it, so that makes me feel good about going there. But if we’re gonna do well we have to make the right decisions on tires (compounds) – that’s what it’s gonna come down to.
“We’ve had a great season in our area but this is going to be a whole new deal for us,” he continued. “We’ll be running against the best drivers in the country, so it’s going to be a real test. Talent-wise I feel I can go down there and run with them because we’ve done it this year around home, but when those guys come out here (to the Midwest) they play by our rules (using UMP DIRTcar Hoosier tires). It’s a different story (during the World Finals) – we’ll be on open tires, so you know it’s gonna be a learning curve.
“We need to get better (running) on open tires. We haven’t done that too much, and that’s one of the reasons we want to go to Charlotte. We’re trying to learn more and make our program better.”
Feger has certainly mastered the tough UMP DIRTcar circuit. Now in his eighth season behind the wheel of a dirt Late Model after excelling in UMP DIRTcar Sportsman action, Feger went from being named UMP DIRTcar’s Most Improved Driver in 2008 to national champion in ’09.
And Feger reached the promised land after a dramatic late-season showdown for the $20,000 points title with 37-year-old Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., who was bidding to sweep the UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals tour and national championships for the third consecutive season. Feger held off Erb down the stretch to win the crown by 31 points.
“I think beating Dennis really makes the championship more special,” said Feger, who finished third in the 2008 national points battle. “A lot of people know how good Dennis is. He’s good in the big shows and can win against anybody, and he’s definitely the guy to beat around here. Whenever you roll into a racetrack – especially for the last three years – night and night out, Dennis is the guy you know you’re gonna have to beat to win. You very rarely see that guy (finish) out of the top five.
“Racing against Dennis makes you focus to really stay up on your game. He’s a competitor who hates to lose, so I think people know (the title) wasn’t given to us or anything. We had to earn it.”
Feger feels honored to follow Erb as the UMP DIRTcar national champion since he sees a bit of himself in the gritty owner-operator known as the ‘One Man Band.’ The two drivers have decidedly different personalities – while Feger is talkative and outgoing, Erb tends to be quiet and reserved – but they have scratched and clawed their way to the top of UMP DIRTcar Racing in much the same manner.
“I have a lot of respect for him,” Feger said of Erb. “I feel like the way he’s done it is kinda the way I’ve done it. He’s a self-made guy who’s worked his butt off to get where he is. I probably have a little more help in the pit (crew) department than him, but we come from the same ranks.”
Indeed, Feger and his family have slowly-but-surely assembled a championship-caliber operation. His entire rise has come driving Late Models under the banner of Feger Brothers Racing (that’s Jason and his 29-year-old brother/crew chief Austin), though he credits his more recent associations with chassis builder Bob Pierce (Feger began running Pierce cars midway through the 2007 season), powerplant constructor Rhyne Engines and sponsors Stearn Ironworks and Jaxon Chase Steel Detailing with giving him that final push.
“To be kind of self-made and win the championship is a big deal in my mind,” said Feger, who works for his family’s Absolute Apparel business when he’s not racing (or getting ready to race) more than 80 nights a season. “It’s not like we just had somebody give us money and we went out and used it. We’ve gotten our program really built up over time.
“It’s definitely tough to do it this way,” he added. “It’s a lot of hard work, but we’re proof it can be done.”
Now Feger will try to continue his success story this week in front of a packed Lowe’s Motor Speedway grandstand and a national television audience on the SPEED cable network, which will televise the World Finals Late Model/Sprint Car doubleheader on Saturday (Nov. 7) starting at 8 p.m. ET.
Considering his ’09 resume, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Feger make some noise at The Dirt Track with his green-and-white, ‘tumbling dice’ No. 25. He’s excelled on some pretty big stages this season – he won a heat race for June’s UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned $100,000 Dream at Eldora, thrilled the fans with outside charges during qualifying for the Dirt Track World Championship last month at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway and, of course, scored his first career WoO LMS triumph with a flawless flag-to-flag run on May 24 at Charter Raceway Park in Beaver Dam, Wis.
Feger lists his WoO LMS victory, which came in a race co-sanctioned by UMP DIRTcar (both entities are owned by the World Racing Group), as a career highlight and confidence-booster heading into the World Finals.
“I had never been to Beaver Dam before, so to be able to show up and beat those Outlaw guys was an incredible feeling,” said Feger, who has entered four WoO LMS events this season. “I really like racing with those guys and I have a whole lot of respect for them. I just hope that win gives them a little more respect for me – you know, solidifies me a little more in their minds.”
The World of Outlaws World Finals – the only time this season fans can see the WoO Late Models and Sprint Cars compete on the same card – begins on Thurs., Nov. 5, with two separate rounds of time trials for both divisions to set the heat race lineups on Friday and Saturday. The Late Models will battle in a 50-lap A-Main on Friday and Saturday and the Sprint Cars will run a 30-lap headliner each evening.
The fun at The Dirt Track actually will kick off on Wed., Nov. 4, with the postponed WoO LMS ‘Topless Showdown by Hungry Man.’ The 50-lap event offers a base purse of $10,000 for first place, but if the driver who wins the A-Main submitted an official entry form prior to deadline they will also receive a ‘passing’ bonus in an amount equal to $1,000 multiplied by their starting position – setting up a possible winner’s prize of as much as $30,000.
Tickets for Wednesday’s World of Outlaws Topless Showdown are $25 for adults and $5 for children 12-and-under. Three-day passes for the World of Outlaws World Finals are just $59 for adults and $19 for children 12-and-under. Single-day tickets are also available.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.lowesmotorspeedway.com or by calling the Lowe’s Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Crane Cams (Official Valvetrain), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), Fusion Energy Boost (Official Energy Boost), SuperClean (Official Cleaner-Degreaser) and VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel); in addition to contingency sponsors Champ Pans, Eibach Springs, Hoosier Tires, Integra Shocks, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, Ohlins Shocks, Racing Electronics, Quarter Master and Wrisco Aluminum; Crane Cams Engine Builder’s Challenge participants Cornett Racing Engines, Custom Race Engines and Pro Power Racing Engines; and Chassis Builder Challenge participants Rocket Chassis and Team Zero by Bloomquist.