Home | Series | American Modified Series | Mike Harrison Deserves ‘Mr. DIRTcar UMP Modified’ Distinction After Winning Second Straight National Title In 2011

Mike Harrison Deserves ‘Mr. DIRTcar UMP Modified’ Distinction After Winning Second Straight National Title In 2011

CONCORD, NC – Nov. 28, 2011 – Go ahead and call Mike Harrison ‘Mr. DIRTcar UMP Modified.’ He’s earned the distinction.

Following a spectacular 2011 season that saw the 37-year-old from Highland, Ill., win both the DIRTcar UMP Modified national championship for the second straight year and the inaugural DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals title, there’s no doubt he’s established himself as the open-wheel division’s preeminent chauffeur.

Statistics don’t lie, and Harrison has some pretty impressive ones to show off. Most tellingly, he became just the third driver in 18 years to win back-to-back UMP Modified national crowns and, with his third career championship, moved within one of matching the circuit-record four national titles owned by Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., who is now a dirt Late Model star.

For his milestone national title, Harrison will receive a $20,000 points-fund check and championship trophy during the 28th annual DIRTcar UMP ‘Night of Champions’ Awards Banquet on Jan. 7, 2012, at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield, Ill.

“To win one (national title) was great, and now to say I’ve won three of them – I just don’t know what to say,” Harrison, whose first championship came in 2004, said in a post-season interview with Dave Seay of DirtCast.com. “To be creeping up there to the Jimmy Owens area (in championships), I never would’ve thought I could’ve done something like that. But you never know. Everything can be done.”

A UMP Modified regular since 1996 whose impressive racing resume boasts 337 career wins and six track championships, Harrison proved that he’s at the top of his game in ’11. After outdueling four drivers in a dramatic down-to-the-wire points battle for the 2010 national championship, he picked up right where he left off when the ’11 campaign began. Harrison won his first start of the season, on March 18 at Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville, Ill., and never slowed down en route to joining Owens (2000-02) and Danny Yanders (1995-96) as national champs in consecutive years.

In all, Harrison won 24 DIRTcar-sanctioned features in ’11 – second only to the 25 logged by Quincy, Ill.’s Michael Long – at 11 tracks in four states. His checkered-flag tour included triumphs at Fayette County Speedway in Brownstown, Ill. (five wins); his hometown’s Highland Speedway (four); Belle-Clair (three); Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway, I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo., Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind., and Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill. (two at each); and LaSalle (Ill.) Speedway, Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway, Peoria (Ill.) Speedway and Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind. (one at each).

Eight of Harrison’s victories came on the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals, a new series run in conjunction with the DIRTcar Summer Nationals ‘Hell Tour’ for Late Models.

The Summit Modified Nationals was actually the first goal of ’11 for Harrison and his team, which is owned by Craig and Mary Kay Maskal of Lebanon, Ill. Setting off on the road with the series to add some variety to his racing schedule, Harrison emerged as its dominant force, failing to reach Victory Lane just three times in the 11 starts he made from mid-June through mid-July. He romped to the title, beating Jeff Curl of Forrest, Ill., by 209 points (750-541) in standings determined using drivers’ 10 best finishes.

“That was a big deal for us,” Harrison said of the Summit Modified Nationals. “Traveling around to different tracks – it was a lot of fun, I’ll tell you that.”

It also served as a springboard to the UMP Modified national championship. The tour’s big fields allowed Harrison to earn the maximum bonus points toward the circuit’s overall title at virtually every event, putting him atop the national points race midway through the summer.

Harrison didn’t waltz to the national crown, however. The points standings, which were determined using drivers’ best 25 finishes/points nights over the course of a season ending with the DIRTcar UMP Nationals on Oct. 8-9 at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway, tightened considerably down the stretch. Several challengers rose up, including Long and Nick Allen of Wheatfield, Ind., and Harrison took notice.

“I usually don’t let that stuff worry me, but I found myself with about a month to go really following what those guys were doing,” Harrison told DirtCast.com. “Then I got into farming and that really helped. When it gets into the (prime) farming time, it takes a toll on me working 14 to 15 hours a day, so for the last month-and-a-half (of the points season) I was counting on my guys to work on the car. I was just going home, going to bed and getting up and going to work again.

“That actually helped me because it let me just show up at the track and focus on that.”

Harrison, who makes his living hauling grain, driving a tractor and doing other assorted farm jobs for Rinderer Farms in Trenton, Ill. (which is also a sponsor of his team), clinched the championship with a flourish, winning his final feature of the season on Sept. 30 at Tri-City. The triumph allowed him to run stress-free in the following week’s DIRTcar UMP Nationals at Eldora, where he placed ninth and ended the points season with a 17-point (1,924-1,907) edge over Long.

After celebrating his national championship in front of the Eldora crowd, Harrison deflected praise for his achievement from himself to the people who shared the stage with him and the sponsors who helped them get there. His list of appreciation included his car owners; his wife and the wives of his crewmen; Rinderer Farms (“For letting me have time off to go out and do it”); Kehrer Brothers Roofing; Aggressive Graphics; Wick Racing Fuels; Larry Shaw Race Cars; and Dargie Race Engines.

“It’s just not all me,” asserted Harrison. “There’s a lot behind-the-scenes.”

Yes, a guy doesn’t become Mr. DIRTcar UMP Modified on talent alone – although as Harrison shows every time he gets behind the wheel, it’s definitely a requirement.

*****

Ticket order forms for the annual DIRTcar UMP ‘Night of Champions’ Awards Banquet on Jan. 7, 2012, at the Crown Plaza in Springfield, Ill., are available on-line at www.dirtcar.com under ‘Downloadable Forms’ or by calling the UMP office at 618-450-2072.

Harrison will be one of eight DIRTcar UMP national champions honored during the gala, joining Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill. (Late Models), Dustin Griffin of Quincy, Ill. (Pro Late Models), Jeremy Hines of Seymour, Ind. (Sportsman), Mark Anderson of Canton, Ill. (Limited Modifieds), Nate Zimmer of Mattoon, Ill. (Stock Cars), Dennis Bringedahl of Twin Lakes, Mich. (Factory Stocks) and Jeremy Callahan of Mt. Vernon, Ill. (Sport Compacts).

For more information on DIRTcar Racing and to see the complete final points standings for all UMP-sanctioned divisions, visit www.dirtcar.com.

Official Final 2011 DIRTcar UMP Modified National Points Standings (Rank/Driver/Points/Races Counted):

1. Mike Harrison 25 1924

2. Michael Long 25 1907

3. Nick Allen 25 1886

4. Jacob Poel 25 1875

5. Ken Schrader 25 1871

6. Todd Sherman 25 1862

7. Ray Bollinger 25 1860

8. Clayton Miller 25 1834

9. Doug Adkins 25 1831

10. Jamie Lomax 25 1827

11. Danny Crane 25 1820

12. Scott Weber 25 1814

13. Tim Hancock 25 1791

14. John DeMoss 25 1779

15. Brian Lynn 25 1769

16. Jeff Leka 25 1766

17. Joe Rokos 25 1763

18. Mark Anderson 25 1759

19. Jim Farris Sr. 25 1755

20. Randle Sweeney 25 1747

Official Final 2011 DIRTcar UMP Modified Missouri State Championship Points Standings (Rank/Driver/Points/Races Counted):

1. Danny Crane 25 1820

2. Steven Delonjay 25 1731

3. Michael Long 25 1725

4. Jason Russell 24 1516

5. Dave Wietholder 25 1514

6. Vance Wilson 25 1416

7. Jake Griffin 25 1282

8. Gary Blackburn Jr. 23 1247

9. Jared Schlipman 18 1080

10. Richard Foster 19 995

Official Final 2011 DIRTcar UMP Modified Ohio State Championship Points Standings (Rank/Driver/Points/Races Counted):

1. Doug Adkins 25 1831

2. Jerry Bowersock 25 1537

3. David McWilliams 25 1527

4. Brian Post 25 1343

5. Zach Schroeder 18 1080

6. Bill Keeler 23 1071

7. Weasel Rhoades 17 1054

8. Dave Jamison 20 1029

9. Jimmy Lennex Jr. 24 1010

10. Mark Kaetzel II 25 999

Official Final 2011 DIRTcar UMP Modified Kentucky/Tennessee State Championship Points Standings (Rank/Driver/Points/Races Counted):

1. Clayton Miller 25 1834

2. Randle Sweeney 25 1732

3. Trent Young 25 1680

4. Dustin Isom 25 1668

5. Justin Story 25 1525

6. Ronnie Falloway 25 1500

7. Paul Miles 25 1396

8. Kyle Robertson 25 1260

9. JR Mason 25 1253

10. Bryce Jewell 23 1232

Official Final 2011 DIRTcar UMP Modified Midwest States Championship Points Standings (Rank/Driver/Points/Races Counted):

1. Michael Bolyard 25 1540

2. Gabe Menser 25 1511

3. Kelby Simmons 25 1405

4. Larry Anderson 25 1389

5. Tim Lewis Jr. 23 1086

6. Billy Lewis 25 1054

7. Cole Hussong 25 1028

8. Stan Beadles 20 983

9. Bill Wagoner 21 956

10. Will Krup 20 903

Official Final 2011 DIRTcar UMP Modified Eastern States Championship Points Standings (Rank/Driver/Points/Races Counted):

1. Todd Sherman 25 1715

2. Derek Losh 25 1661

3. Jake Ruefer 25 1604

4. JR Ruefer 25 1385

5. Aaron Orr 24 1343

5. Andy Bishop 25 1343

7. Zeke Mckenzie 25 1286

8. Tony Anderson 22 1235

9. Ryan Cripe 25 1123

10. Bruce Takach 17 1096

Official Final 2011 DIRTcar UMP Modified Northwest States Championship Points Standings (Rank/Driver/Points/Races Counted):

1. Troy Foulger 25 1544

2. Chris Shannon 22 1304

3. Bobby Hogge IV 15 933

4. Scott Busby 14 740

5. Mike Salazar 14 612

6. Randy McDaniel 12 598

7. Chester Kniss 14 553

8. Sean Ogara 12 543

9. Nick Decarlo 10 542

10. Dereck Colvin 13 536

Official Final 2011 DIRTcar UMP Modified Deep South State Championship Points Standings (Rank/Driver/Points/Races Counted):

1. Jeff Mathews 25 1710

2. Kyle Bronson 23 1254

3. Garrett Stewart 22 1118

4. Larry Burkins 23 1105

5. Scott Mooers 25 1086

6. Jared Allison 16 960

7. Dale Murray 22 940

8. Dave Barber Jr. 18 879

9. Jim Passino 16 765

10. Ronnie Chance 17 705

Official Final 2011 DIRTcar UMP Modified Indiana State Championship Points Standings (Rank/Driver/Points/Races Counted):

1. Clint Demoss 25 1721

2. Richie Lex 25 1596

3. Derek Groomer 23 1471

4. Paul Bumgardner 25 1449

5. Kenny Carmichael Sr. 25 1379

6. Schuyler Nahre 25 1304

7. John DeMoss 18 1180

8. Brian Hayden 19 1117

9. Wes Mcclara 24 1091

10. Carlos Bumgardner Sr. 24 1076

Official Final 2011 DIRTcar UMP Modified Michigan State Championship Points Standings (Rank/Driver/Points/Races Counted):

1. Jacob Poel 25 1875

2. Joe Rokos 25 1763

3. Mark Anderson 25 1759

4. Rich Robinson Jr. 25 1605

4. Andrew Sprague 25 1605

6. Stan Dodds 25 1483

7. Jeff Erickson 25 1412

8. David Mielke 25 1361

9. Cody Bauer 25 1337

10. Steve Mcclees 25 1303

Official Final 2011 DIRTcar UMP Modified Northern Illinois State Championship Points Standings (Rank/Driver/Points/Races Counted):

1. Ray Bollinger 25 1804

2. Jamie Lomax 25 1784

3. Nick Allen 25 1761

4. Jim Farris Sr. 25 1755

5. Lance Dehm 25 1677

6. Steven Brooks 25 1640

7. Jeff Leka 25 1622

8. Jay Ledford 25 1571

9. Justin Delong 25 1546

10. Jeff Curl 25 1536

Official Final 2011 DIRTcar UMP Modified Southern Illinois State Championship Points Standings (Rank/Driver/Points/Races Counted):

1. Tim Hancock 25 1791

2. Scott Weber 25 1763

3. Dean Hoffman 25 1736

4. Mike Harrison 25 1664

5. Steve Lach 25 1596

6. Brian Lynn 25 1579

7. Guy Taylor 25 1577

8. Ray Walsh 25 1518

9. Brian Diveley 25 1498

10. Brett Korves 25 1464