From national and regional touring series events, to the marquee Wayne Coakley Memorial and USA World 50 races, Jason Feger had won nearly every prestigious event held at Paducah International Raceway, except one.
The DIRTcar Summer Nationals main event had, for many years, escaped his grasp. Friday night, he put an end to the curse in dramatic fashion, completing one of the wildest comebacks in Hell Tour history.
Feger, the 2010 Summer Nationals champion from Bloomington, IL, blew a right-rear tire only two laps after taking the green flag and was forced to restart from the tail. With a long line of cars in front of him and 28 laps left on the board, Feger drove all the way back to the head of the field, taking the lead with three laps left and holding off some late challengers en route to his 26th career Summer Nationals victory.
“I’ve been part of some good ones, but this is pretty awesome,” Feger said.
After drawing the race’s first caution flag with two laps in the books, Feger took his spot at the tail of the field, officially scored in 18th position after the restart.
“I just kept trying not to get frustrated and told myself, ‘If you’re going to have one, it’s better to have it early so you have time to dig yourself out of that hole,’” Feger said.
Back up front, Ashton Winger paced the field around the high-banked, 3/8-mile oval and led a green-flag stretch that lasted 24 of the 30 scheduled laps. Feger used that time and his replacement right-rear tire to his advantage, advancing 11 spots of position under green to put him in seventh by the time the next caution flag was thrown.
“I got kinda stuck there for a while,” Feger said. “I knew the car was really good, but I kept telling myself, ‘The car is good, don’t take any chances you don’t need to take.’”
Second place Tyler Clem blew a right-rear of his own with three laps left, bringing out the caution. Under yellow, leader Winger pulled into the work area with a right-rear flat of his own, handing the lead over to Drake Troutman. The young Pennsylvanian was once again holding an opportunity to win his first career Summer Nationals race, but was about to have it ripped from his grasp for the umpteenth time this season.
As Troutman led the field back to green, Feger got a great launch out of Turn 4 and made the move on both Kyle Beard and Dylan Thompson to take over second out of Turn 2. But dead ahead, Troutman’s right-rear tire gave way, dashing his chances for victory and bringing out caution yet again.
“Coming off of Turn 4, I saw Drake fall on the right-rear there in the middle of 4,” Feger said. “So I started turning down, and I didn’t know exactly where he was gonna go, but I was pretty positive he popped a tire.
“I shot down, and was in the lead and was like, ‘Holy cow – it might happen.’”
Now in control of the race, Feger survived two more restarts and led the field back around to the checkered to collect the $10,000 check and complete the 30-lap comeback.
Week 3 of the 38th DIRTcar Summer Nationals continues with a visit to Clarksville Speedway in Clarksville, TN, on Saturday, July 1. Tickets will be on sale at the gate. If you can’t be at the track, stream every lap live on DIRTVision.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)
Feature (30 Laps): 1. 25-Jason Feger; 2. 12-Ashton Winger; 3. 86-Kyle Beard; 4. 4G-Bob Gardner; 5. 21J-Billy Moyer Jr; 6. 58-Tyler Clem; 7. 14M-Morgan Bagley; 8. 38-Thomas Hunziker; 9. 14-Haiden Cowan; 10. 6JR-Parker Martin; 11. 15-Clayton Stuckey; 12. AUS1-Brent Vosbergen; 13. 30-Mark Voigt; 14. 31AUS-Kye Blight; 15. 7-Drake Troutman; 16. 99-Dylan Thompson; 17. 21-Billy Moyer Sr; 18. 23NZ-Mick Quin; 19. 10-Ronnie Cooper; 20. 18-Matt Cooper; 21. 14R-Jeff Roth