Racing begins Friday; gates open at 4pm, Hot Laps at 6pm
A warm Thursday evening at Lincoln Speedway provided a strong playground for 40 of DIRTcar’s most dedicated weekly racers looking for a tune-up session before the final points weekend of the year in the 28th annual DIRTcar Fall Nationals.
After several rounds of Hot Laps, Super Late Model racer McKay Wenger, of Fairbury, IL, topped the charts with a best lap of 12.639 around the 1/4-mile oval. The 2020 Fairbury Speedway track champion – a regular pilot of his self-owned, neon-yellow #42 Rocket Chassis – was instead behind the wheel of a #99 Longhorn Chassis for Moline, IL-based Curless Motorsports.
A regular racer of Rocket Chassis, Wenger said he was looking to give a Longhorn a try. He had positive things to say, and his chart-topping results backed it up.
“The main thing is getting comfortable,” Wenger said. “It’s a completely different deal. I’ve been in my own car for 30 races or so this year, so to hop in something completely different takes me a little bit to get used to. It’s definitely a completely different feel.”
Wenger has long been a keeper of his own equipment, but said he encountered the opportunity to come and drive for team owner Doug Curless through mutual connections in the industry and couldn’t pass it up. He and the team spent several hours in the shop earlier this week preparing for their first Fall Nationals together, and they’re ready to chase a trophy.
“It came together last-minute, but these guys have been super helpful,” Wenger said. “It’s an opportunity of a lifetime for me to run with these guys and the equipment they have. I’m very thankful right now.”
Defending DIRTcar Pro Late Model national champion Jose Parga, of New Berlin, IL, will celebrate his fourth career national championship in his final points race of the year Saturday night. After several laps in practice, he topped his division’s rankings with a best lap of 13.598.
A winner of 19 Features in the 21 races he entered this year, Parga said he’s looking forward to wrapping his epic season up at Lincoln – a track local to him.
“This place is 40 minutes from home, and I’ve got a bunch of family and friends that get to come out and enjoy the whole weekend,” Parga said. “It’s cool to do it at home for, per se, the last race of the year. We don’t get to race here much, so to end the year here – hopefully with a win – you can’t ask for anything more.”
Last year, Parga claimed his first Fall Nationals trophy in the Pro Late Model main event Friday night before watching noted rival Aaron Heck celebrate in Victory Lane on Saturday. This time around, he’s looking to come out on top as the two meet again to compete for year-end bragging rights.
“A lot of people have me and Aaron a little mixed-up – our relationship’s real good,” Parga said. “We race hard and that’s all it is, really. End of the day, we’ll have a beer together.
“I look forward to when he comes. If you can beat Aaron Heck or even Devon… Devon McClean is starting to make a name for himself. If you can beat Aaron, you know you did something right.”
In the midst of a strong fight for the DIRTcar Stock Car national championship, Bobby Beiler partook in the practice sessions Thursday night, looking for any bit of speed to gain before he takes on back-to-back nights of racing in pursuit of his first career national title.
Beiler, of Blue Mound, IL, is competing for national points this year for the first time in his career and remains 15 points behind Jerrad Krick with only two races left. He’ll take on Lincoln Friday night before heading to Charleston Speedway Saturday night, and knows he has to win to have a shot at the title.
“We’re gonna give it all we got tomorrow night and hopefully pick one off, then take that momentum and run to Charleston,” Beiler said. “Hopefully, [we’ll have] a good weekend and see where we end up. Can’t hang our head on the season we’ve had, no doubt.”
Krick is a member of one of the toughest DIRTcar Stock Car teams in the nation, driving for Indiana team owner Mike Alsop. Beiler has been able to keep pace with Krick this year, however, matching his win total of 12, and knows it may take a win or two more to snatch the points lead and the title away over Friday and Saturday.
“They’re the toughest team out there in the [Stock Car] division, no doubt,” Beiler said. “We’ve won 12 Features at seven or eight different tracks this year.
The 28th annual DIRTcar Fall Nationals begins racing competition Friday, Sept. 29, with the first night of action for the Super Late Models, UMP Modifieds, Stock Cars and Pro Modifieds. Tickets will be available at the front gate.