Hamilton County Speedway
Hamilton County gives Feger first Lucas victory
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
WEBSTER CITY, Iowa (July 17) — Before Wednesday’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series feature at Hamilton County Speedway, Jason Feger was glad to see the track prep crew dumping water in the high groove at the half-mile fairgrounds oval.
But Feger’s excitement about running the high groove turned to anxiousness chasing leader Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., when he realized the low groove was suddenly becoming the fastest way around the track after a dozen or so laps.
“When you start getting to those lapped cars and it gets harder to get by 'em and they’re on the bottom, you know something’s happening,” Feger said.
But with Francis hampered trying to lap a few slower cars, Feger went to the high side one last time in turns three and four to sweep around Francis on the 16th lap. He cruised the rest of the 50 lapper for $10,000 and his first career Lucas Oil Series victory on a steamy Iowa evening.
“It’s great. We’ve won on a lot of series, (but) for some reason, Lucas (Oil events) always kind of had my number ... we’ve had some good runs, we’ve never been able to finish,” Feger said. “We’ve struggled the last three nights pretty bad. We kind of got off base and we sat back and went over the car really good and thought about some stuff and kind of got back to our basics.
“Never been here before. We were pretty fast all night, you know, from the time we unloaded. That makes it easy, you know. You can’t get behind the 8-ball with these guys, and that’s what we’ve been doing lately. Just to be able to come out here and win again these guys against this caliber, man, it’s just awesome. It feels really great.”
Francis settled for second for the second night in a row during the Lucas Oil swing through the Midwest while pole-starting Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., was third in the first series visit to Hamilton County. Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., and home-state driver Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine rounded out the top five in front of a huge crowd at the 75-year-old facility.
Series points leader John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., rallied from 18th to finish eighth while two-time series champion Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., ran as high as fifth before slipping to ninth at the finish.
Francis got the jump on Pearson with Feger quickly grabbing the second spot to join Francis in a two-car breakaway as the frontrunners made the most of the high groove. But Feger soon realized the low groove was picking up a rubber strip that improved traction for low-running cars.
“I went down there down in (turns) three and four and I felt it, and I was like, 'Oh man, I know this ain’t going to last much longer.' I knew I didn’t have much chance,” Feger said. “We had two lapped cars side-by-side and I just put her up top and gave her everything she had, and luckily the door opened for me and I was able to sneak by and get back to the bottom and keep her on the tires the rest of the way.”
Francis, who Tuesday at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., couldn’t catch winner Billy Moyer in traffic, knew traffic would make the difference.
“I slowed down too much behind them lapped cars and I felt it that (16th) lap ... Jason, he made one banzai (move) and it was kind of like last night,” Francis said. “He was either going to win or not win right there. I’m on the wrong end of that each night, but we’ll take second.
“It was a pretty good points night for us. It seems like we’re finally getting our consistency rolling like we wanted to ... earlier in the year we were back and forth, all over the place earlier in the year,” Francis said. “Congratulations to Jason. ... he did the right thing at the right time and it worked for him tonight.”
Feger knew the timing played out in his favor.
“(Francis) knew it was rubbering down there and he got stuck behind lapped cars and I was just able to pick 'em right before it rubbered it hard enough,” Feger said. “Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve had it go the other way, too. We’ll take 'em however we can get 'em. It just feels great to win one.”
The victory was Feger’s third in the upper Midwest after a World Racing Group suspension for a tire infraction banned him from most home-state special events this summer. He previously won Corn Belt Clash-sanctioned events May 17 at Davenport (Iowa) Speedway and July 5 at Luxemburg (Wis.) Speedway.
Two yellow flags slowed the action at Webster City. The first caution appeared on the 28th lap when Jack Sullivan rolled to a stop exiting turn four; 10th-running Jared Landers retired with left-side damage on two laps later.
Notes: Feger’s Pierce Race Car is powered by a Rhyne Competition Racing Engine is sponsored by Cheap Cars, Box Seat Productions, Titan Industries, Allstar Performance, Mulligan’s, Pro Tire & Auto, Advanced Racing Suspensions and VP Racing Fuels. ... “Man, I’ve gotta thank my crew,” Feger said in victory lane. “They’ve been busting their tails and it’s been hot. When things aren’t going good, it’s easy to get at each other. We’ve just been working hard and pulled through. I’ve gotta thank them guys. I can’t say enough for what they do for me.” ... Half of 24 starters completed 50 laps. ... Sixteen were running at the finish. ... The tour’s Midwest swing concludes Friday and Saturday with the $27,000-to-win Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb.; practice is scheduled for Thursday night.
Lucas Oil @ Hamilton County: (1) Jason Feger, (2) Steve Francis, (3) Earl Pearson Jr., (4) Don O'Neal, (5) Brian Birkhofer, (6) Scott Bloomquist, (7) Chad Simpson, (8) John Blankenship, (9) Jimmy Owens, (10) Billy Moyer, (11) Chris Simpson, (12) Eddie Carrier Jr., (13) Dennis Erb Jr., (14) Billy Moyer Jr., (15) Craig Vosbergen, (16) Jerry Lierly, (17) Jared Landers, (18) Jack Sullivan, (19) Mark Dotson, (20) Tommy Weder Jr., (21) Ryan Gustin, (22) Tyler Reddick, (23) Wendell Wallace, (24) Denny Eckrich. Fast qualifier (among 30 cars): Francis, 19.459 seconds. Heat race winners: Pearson, Birkhofer, Francis, Feger. Consolation winner: Wallace. Provisional starters: Lierly, Vosbergen.