The biggest event on the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals calendar caps off its 12th season in operation this Friday-Saturday, July 29-30 in the 32nd annual Prairie Dirt Classic.
Fairbury Speedway hosts the Summit Modifieds with the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series for the seventh time in event history, dating back to 2015, when the Modifieds contested only a 30-lap Feature each night. The format was reshaped in 2017 to its current state, which includes Hot Lap/Qualifying and four $500-to-win Showdown Features on Friday night, transferring the top-four finishers to Saturday’s Feature.
Saturday consists of Hot Laps and two Last Chance Showdown races for any driver not yet qualified, taking the top-two finishers from each into the Feature. Four provisional starters will be added to fill the final four spots before the field rolls to the track for the 40-lap, $5,000-to-win Summit Modified Prairie Dirt Classic finale.
Sixty-five of the best DIRTcar UMP Modified drivers in the nation are scheduled to compete in the Fairbury crown jewel event. See below for the complete driver roster.
Current Summit Modified points leader Nick Hoffman has officially clinched his fifth tour championship with 12 wins in 15 starts this season. He’ll join DIRTcar Summer Nationals Late Model champion Bobby Pierce in a special championship crowning during opening ceremonies on Friday night, honoring both drivers’ accomplishments on the Hell Tour this year as they hoist their fifth career championship trophies.
Here are the drivers to watch for and the storylines to follow this weekend:
THREE-PEAT? – Two-time and defending Summit Modified Prairie Dirt Classic champion Nick Hoffman returns to the seat of his NOS Energy Drink/Elite Chassis #2, seeking his third-straight win in the event finale.
Hoffman, the now five-time Summit Modified champion from Mooresville, NC, has the most PDC Modified wins total with five between all Showdown (2017, 2019, 2021) and finale Features (2019, 2021), and will be among the favorites to win again this weekend after a regular-season Summit Modified victory at Fairbury in June.
Like last year, Hoffman is also scheduled to have an entry in the World of Outlaws CASE Late Model portion of the PDC, this year piloting the Allstar Concrete/Barry Wright Race Cars #2 house ride for the team from Cowpens, SC.
RECLAIM THE THRONE – For two years, Mike Harrison reigned supreme over the Summit Modifieds in the PDC. For the last two, he’s watched another hoist the big money check from the pits. This weekend, the one and only six-time Summit Modified champion returns to Fairbury to reclaim what was once rightfully his.
Harrison, the seven-time DIRTcar UMP Modified national champion from Highland, IL, won the 2017 finale in a thriller over Mike McKinney and Nick Hoffman to claim his first Modified PDC title. He returned to Victory Lane the following year, coming from seventh to clinch back-to-back event titles and the 2018 Summit Modified points championship. Since then, he’s suffered two DNFs in the event, while Hoffman has walked away with both $5,000 checks.
Harrison has taken on Hoffman three times this season in Summit Modified competition, all which Hoffman got the upper hand. But Harrison’s record speaks for itself. With 12 total wins in DIRTcar competition this season and a No. 6 ranking in the nation, this is set to be one of the most anticipated UMP Modified matchups of the year.
OWENSBORO’S VERY OWN – Fairbury Speedway during Prairie Dirt Classic time has, overall, been good to Tyler Nicely, but not good enough to admit him to Victory Lane when big money is on the line. That could change this weekend.
Since his victory in the 2015 Saturday night finale, Nicely, of Owensboro, KY, is tied with Allen Weisser for the most top-five finishes without a win in the 40-lapper at three and has finished third in the last two PDC finales.
He’s currently the No. 2-ranked driver in the nation with seven wins on the season and will be among the favorites to win his first $5,000 check this weekend.
YOUTH IS KING – 2020 FALS Cup champion Michael Ledford comes into the Prairie Dirt Classic as the current track points leader with three Feature wins – most of any driver.
The 17-year-old wheelman from Pontiac, IL, was forced to take a provisional in last year’s event after missing the transfer cutoff in a Last Chance Showdown. But as the No. 14-ranked driver in the nation this year, he’s been tested several times and pulled-out a win to stay on top at Fairbury Speedway.
VETERAN PRESENCE – For the first time in his star-studded career, multi-time national touring Dirt Modified champion Jason Hughes will strap into a DIRTcar UMP Modified and attempt to qualify for Fairbury’s most prestigious Modified event.
Hughes, of Watts, OK, is slated to pilot a Josh Carroll-owned #24J Hughes Racing Chassis in the event. Carroll also owns Harrison’s #24H, built by Hughes, which could make for a lethal combination on the track come Saturday.
SO CLOSE – If there’s one driver in the field that Fairbury owes a win in the PDC, it’s Allen Weisser.
He’s been runner-up to Nick Hoffman in each of the last two Summit Modified PDC finales and came home fourth in 2018 after starting on the pole. He came all the way out of a Last Chance Showdown last year to finish second, falling short once again.
Weisser, of Peoria, IL, is currently the No. 15-ranked driver in the nation with seven total victories this year, including one at Fairbury on May 28.