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FALL NATIONALS FINALE: National Champs Feger, Parga, Schwartz Clean-Up With First-Time Winner Nusbaum at Lincoln

Forty years of weekly DIRTcar Racing is now in the history books. The 28th edition of DIRTcar’s year-end special event concluded appropriately Saturday night at Lincoln Speedway – with the national champions on top.

All three 2023 national champions in attendance went home victorious in their pursuit of DIRTcar Fall Nationals glory. For the second-straight night, Jason Feger topped the Super Late Model Feature while Deece Schwartz also went back-to-back for a weekend sweep of the Pro Modified division. Jose Parga also cleaned up, leading the Pro Late Model main event wire-to-wire for his second career Fall Nationals triumph.

The lone first-time winner, Dillon Nusbaum, made his trip out from home in Indiana count with a Fall Nationals trophy earned in his second UMP Modified start in the event since it moved to Lincoln in 2020.

Late Models – Jason Feger
While he did not have to come from the tail of the field as he did Friday, Jason Feger still displayed his ability to pass cars in Saturday’s main event, leading all 30 laps while slicing his way through slower traffic.

Feger, the two-time DIRTcar national champion from Bloomington, IL, jumped to the early lead from the front row and immediately opened a sizable gap on the field. As he continued to click laps off out front by himself, veteran racer Steve Sheppard Jr. soon found a lane to his liking, took second and began to reel-in Feger.

Brendon Bauman Photo

Through lapped traffic, Sheppard stayed with Feger and matched his pace in passing the lapped traffic in front of him. Though he was able to shrink the gap down to a half-second in the final three laps, Sheppard was unable to reach Feger in the end as he drove off with his 15th DIRTcar Feature win of the year.

“My guy did a good job signaling; I could see him every lap, so I had a good idea [about where Sheppard was],” Feger said. “I was just trying to be smart, not make any mistakes and it all paid off.”

Feature (30 Laps): 1. 25-Jason Feger[2]; 2. 5S-Steve Sheppard[5]; 3. 99-Mckay Wenger[1]; 4. 130-Chase Osterhoff[6]; 5. 10J-Jordan Bauer[8]; 6. 1ST-Justin Reed[14]; 7. 6P-Jose Parga[7]; 8. H6-Brayton Wallace[16]; 9. 21B-Rich Bell[10]; 10. 77-Blaise Baker[9]; 11. 27-Colby Sheppard[4]; 12. 98-Cole Swibold[12]; 13. 32M-Cody Maguire[15]; 14. 334-Billy Hough[13]; 15. 3-Joey Smith[20]; 16. 32T-Tony Thoennes[23]; 17. 33H-Roben Huffman[3]; 18. 5B-Brandon Sweitzer[21]; 19. 27K-Greg Kimmons[17]; 20. T2-Todd Bennett[11]; 21. 4D-Doug Tye[22]; 22. 74-Russ Adams[18]; 23. 11M-Ryan Miller[19]; 24. 55-Rockett Bennett[24]

Pro Late Models – Jose Parga
His dream season is now complete. With his second career Fall Nationals triumph, Jose Parga has now won 20 Features in 22 starts, all in a single season.

The four-time DIRTcar Pro Late Model champion led all 25 laps around the 1/4-mile in dominating fashion, never once letting any of his opponents – the best Crate-engine Late Model drivers in the state – get an opportunity to make a move. Unchallenged, Parga crossed the stripe over two seconds ahead of Aaron Heck to score a season-milestone 20th win of the year.

Brendon Bauman Photo

“It stamps-off the year that we’ve had,” Parga said. “I had a lot of emotions coming into tonight; just really wanting to get to 20 so we can really call it a year and say that we did it.

“To do it in front of all our friends and family, the big fan base they have here tonight, it definitely felt good.”

Feature (25 Laps): 1. 6P-Jose Parga[2]; 2. 59-Aaron Heck[1]; 3. 6-Dakota Ewing[8]; 4. 33M-Devin McLean[5]; 5. 77-Blaise Baker[4]; 6. 14-Braden Johnson[12]; 7. 32M-Cody Maguire[14]; 8. 55-Rockett Bennett[6]; 9. 61-Jammie Wilson[3]; 10. 14S-Derek Smith[10]; 11. 5B-Brandon Sweitzer[13]; 12. 64-Blaze Burwell[11]; 13. 18CC-Cameron Reynolds[15]; 14. 28H-Cale Hartnagel[18]; 15. 91R-Eric Rutherford[19]; 16. 17B-Braden Bilger[9]; 17. 7Z-Michael Maestas[17]; 18. 16C-Tristan Coleman[21]; 19. 11-Ryan Miller[7]; 20. 33-Bill Berghaus[22]; 21. J24-Kade Ballinger[16]; 22. (DNS) 19-Chad Osterhoff

UMP Modifieds – Dillon Nusbaum
From Warsaw, IN, Dillon Nusbaum made his first trip out to Lincoln for Fall Nationals a successful one, leading all 25 laps of the UMP Modified Feature and besting some of Illinois’ best regional and national racers.

Nusbaum, now a winner of 21 DIRTcar-sanctioned Features in 2023, jumped to the early lead but soon ran into heavy lapped traffic with Mike Chasteen Jr. gaining on him. Three-wide the lapped cars battled in front of Nusbaum and slowed his progress until one spun right in front of him, bringing out the caution flag and resetting the field.

Brendon Bauman Photo

With less than half the race remaining, Nusbaum survived multiple restarts from that point and brought the field back around to collect the checkered and put a cherry atop one of the most successful seasons in his career.

Feature (25 Laps): 1. 17N-Dillon Nusbaum[2]; 2. C40-Mike Chasteen Jr[1]; 3. 12LL-Lucas Lee[4]; 4. 96M-Mike McKinney[5]; 5. 24H-Mike Harrison[3]; 6. 777-Trevor Neville[7]; 7. 14M-Caden McWhorter[8]; 8. 24-Zeke McKenzie[14]; 9. 35-Brandon Roberts[10]; 10. 21D-Danny Schwartz[11]; 11. 24T-Trevor Ringle[16]; 12. J24-Jeremy Nichols[12]; 13. 121-Deece Schwartz[17]; 14. 99-Tim Luttrell[9]; 15. 14-Brian Lynn[20]; 16. 58R-Ryan Hamilton[19]; 17. 72A-Austin Lynn[13]; 18. 87-Collin Shain[18]; 19. 99T-Tyler Loughmiller[22]; 20. 14K-Shane Kelley[21]; 21. 73-Mark Rhoades[23]; 22. 29L-JD Laster[24]; 23. 4T-Guy Taylor[15]; 24. 3-Mike Brooks[6]

Pro Modifieds – Deece Schwartz
Coming into the weekend, Deece Schwartz had two DIRTcar national championships to his name, but not one DIRTcar Fall Nationals Feature win. Now, he’s got the two wins to match.

Schwartz, the third-generation driver from Ashmore, IL, won the Pro Modified Feature for the second night in-a-row, leading all 25 laps en route to his 25th DIRTcar-sanctioned win of 2023.

In the longest Feature of the evening, Schwartz survived several caution periods, two complete stoppages and multiple restarts to get the win, first holding off Brandon Bollinger in the early going and then Kyle Helmick later to seal the win.

Brendon Bauman Photo

Rightly so, Schwartz admitted the win was not his easiest of the year.

“I started getting tired around 10-to-seven laps left,” Schwartz said. “The little bit of breaks helped a little bit, but it also hurt me at the same time, because my tires were starting to go away. It was hard to keep the car rolling and keep it consistent because my tires were starting to go away so fast.”

Feature (25 Laps): 1. 121-Deece Schwartz[2]; 2. 25X-Kyle Helmick[4]; 3. 62-Troy Medley[9]; 4. 33B-Tommy Sheppard Jr[12]; 5. 1-Donnie Martin[11]; 6. Z24-Zach Taylor[13]; 7. 52JR-Cole Knebel[6]; 8. 29H-Cale Hartnagel[18]; 9. 78-Maxx Emerson[20]; 10. 215-Jake Montgomery[22]; 11. 2W-Jason Walsh[10]; 12. A59-Karson Evans[23]; 13. 71-Joel Ortberg[14]; 14. 4T-Guy Taylor[7]; 15. 2-Brayden Doyle[8]; 16. 52-Billy Knebel Jr[1]; 17. 12B-Brandon Bollinger[3]; 18. 21JR-Drew Schwartz[21]; 19. 3G-Bryce Graber[24]; 20. 15C-Kevin Crowder[15]; 21. 44-Gabe Menser[5]; 22. 3W-BJ Deal[17]; 23. 22K-Michael Kettler[16]; 24. 73-Mark Rhoades[19]

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