June 16, 2020
(By Tyson Graves)
Tomorrow night is supposed to be the opening night event for the 35th edition of the Summer Nationals. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept over the country in 2020 things will not start on time like originally scheduled. Many of the tracks across the Midwest have been sitting idle the past two months. Some have had their opening night event but some are still yet to do that. With over 60 percent of the events taking place in Illinois the DIRTcar Racing organization made the decision in early June to push things back until hopefully Illinois would open up to allow racing and fans in attendance.
In the past two weeks the racing world has seen light at the end of the tunnel as tracks across the land of Lincoln started to open and hold their season opening events. With this being said the latest info we have received is DIRTcar director Sam Driggers is working with tracks to fill a revised schedule through the month of July and maybe beyond. But at this time nothing officially has been released from the World Racing Group on the status of the Summer Nationals tour dubbed "The Hell Tour."
Fans are longing to take in some of their favorite races of the year as the tour invades their local track across the Midwest with some of the best drivers in the country in Late Model and Modified racing. Historic events like the Herald & Review 100 at the mighty bullring of Macon Speedway is always a thriller that leaves fans on the edge of their seats. Although things may be different this year in scheduling, you and I can be assured when the tour does begin we will forget about the virus that has held us away from the track. The smell of race fuel, tires, and the roar of the engines will be sweet to our senses.
Defending Hell Tour Champion Brian Shirley just recently dropped off the National Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series tour. Many hope to see him return to run the Summer Nationals full time and try to win the title for the third consecutive season. He would join Dennis Erb Jr & Bobby Pierce as the third driver in series history to complete the feat. Last year we saw a couple first time winners on the tour including a thrilling win for Kyle Bronson at Tri-City Speedway.
The Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds will also be on the card at most, if not all Summer Nationals events. Last year Nick Hoffman was your points champion, it was his second career title on the Summer Nationals tour in a Modified. He did it in dominate fashion last year winning 13 of the 22 events on tour. In 2018 fans seen a great title fight between Mike McKinney and eventually title winner Mike Harrison. The last weekend of the tour at Oakshade last year, 15 year old Hunt Gossum bested the field for his first career Summit Racing Modified Nationals win. Every night is a great show in the Modified division as well.
We don't know exactly when and where the Summer Nationals will start for 2020 yet but we know it will be worth the wait once we all get to see that revised schedule. Be on the lookout in the days to come as we all anxiously await the best time of the year for racing fans in the Midwest!