Another six-race-week is on the docket for the third week of competition in the 37th DIRTcar Summer Nationals Hell Tour.
Loaded with annual staple venues and the return of some old favorites, the Late Models and DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals competitors will be tested with a variety of track sizes and rigorous travel schedule over the next six days.
Multi-State Week schedule
Tuesday, June 28 – Red Hill Raceway (Sumner, IL)
Wednesday, June 29 – Benton Speedway (Benton, MO)
Thursday, June 30 – Fayette County Speedway (Brownstown, IL)
Friday, July 1 – Paducah International Raceway (Paducah, KY)
Saturday, July 2 – Clarksville Speedway (Clarksville, TN)
Sunday, July 3 – Lincoln Speedway (Lincoln, IL)
Tickets for each event will be available at the gates on race day. If you can’t make it to your favorite track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision – online at DIRTVision.com or with the DIRTVision mobile app.
Here are the drivers to watch for and the storylines to follow this week:
POINTS TAKE SHAPE – After eleven-straight races through the first two weeks, four-time and reigning Summer Nationals Late Model champion Bobby Pierce maintains a 90-point lead in the standings over Jason Feger. Pierce, of Oakwood, IL, skipped the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series’ appearance Sunday night at Jacksonville Speedway to prepare for the upcoming Multi-Sate Week, indicating a potential run for his fifth tour championship.
Jason Feger, of Bloomington, IL, has taken over second in points after posting one of his best finishes of the season Saturday against the Outlaws at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, chasing winner Dennis Erb Jr. for most of the 55-lap finale before Pierce passed him late. Ryan Unzicker, of El Paso, IL, has dropped to third in points, most recently passing 14 cars in his drive from 23rd to ninth against the World of Outlaws Saturday night in Pevely. Both drivers are projected to be on the roster during Multi-State Week.
Fellow four-time Summer Nationals champion Brian Shirley boosted himself to fourth in points after notching back-to-back victories, starting with the Illinois-Iowa Week closer at Sycamore Speedway on June 19 and winning again two nights later at Missouri’s Springfield Raceway. Shirley, of Chatham, IL, and the Bob Cullen Racing team are expected to be in attendance throughout Multi-State Week.
COOLING OFF – For the first time since September 2020, Nick Hoffman has finished second or worse in two consecutive Summit Modified Features.
The four-time and defending champion from Mooresville, NC, was bested by winner Rick Conoyer and runner-up Will Krup in Friday’s portion of the St. Louis Firecracker Faceoff at I-55 and broke a camshaft in the engine while coming to the checkered on Saturday, leaving him with a DNF in 16th-place.
However, he still holds a giant lead in the standings, 131 points ahead of second-place Kyle Steffens. With seven wins in nine starts, he’s now only five wins away from maxing-out his win total for the fourth-straight year, as only a driver’s best 12 finishes are taken into account in championship points.
GUESS WHO’S BACK – He’s been out of action for the past three seasons, but this week, National Dirt Late Model Hall-of-Famer Terry English returns to the seat of a DIRTcar Late Model this Friday and Saturday night.
Terry, the 2002 DIRTcar Late Model national champion and father to 2021 Hell Tour regular Tanner English, will pilot a 2016 Rocket XR1 Chassis in the Summer Nationals shows at the newly reopened Paducah International Raceway (July 1) and Clarksville Speedway (July 2). The car has sat in their Benton, KY, shop since Tanner competed with it in the 2019 Gateway Dirt Nationals but has since been revitalized and adorned with Terry’s famed No. 96 decal on the door panels.
Terry has five Summer Nationals victories to his credit – his most recent coming at Illinois’ Highland Speedway on June 17, 2008.
OLD FRIEND – This week, the Summer Nationals will see a familiar face return to the Late Model roster.
2021 DIRTcar Late Model Rookie of the Year Ashton Winger, of Hampton, GA, is expected to start his week with the Summer Nationals Tuesday at Red Hill Raceway and follow it up with a visit to Benton Speedway in Missouri on Wednesday.
Winger completed the entire 2021 Hell Tour schedule with his own equipment but will bring the G.R. Smith-owned Gambler Transport Motorsports Rocket XR1 #89 to the track this week – a car he’s been at the controls of since the racing season began in January.
WHAT’S OLD IS NEW – Three of the six tracks on the docket this week have not hosted a Summer Nationals race in at least nine years.
Red Hill Raceway’s grand re-opening takes place this Tuesday, June 28, with the Summer Nationals and Summit Modified stars in attendance at the revived facility in Sumner, IL. No race car of any type has graced the dirt of the 3/8-mile oval since the last time it hosted competition in 2004 (officially closed in 2005), but Midwest racing promoter Jeremy Sneed has since purchased the property and put life back in it, now ready for its first Summer Nationals show since 2000.
Benton Speedway in Benton, MO, sat dormant from 2014 until last fall, when owner Rob Russell reopened the property for racing once again. The Late Models are scheduled to make their first appearance at 3/8-mile oval for the first time since 1997 on Wednesday, June 29, while the Modifieds will make their debut.
Paducah International Raceway in Paducah, KY, hosted a Summer Nationals event every year from 1996-2013. The big 3/8-mile oval was later closed in 2016 and again in 2018 but has since reopened under new owners Adam and Brittany Elliot, who have breathed new life and a weekly racing program back into the track. The track is set to host its 19th Summer Nationals event and fourth Summit Modified event this Friday, July 1.