July 7, 2020
(By Tyson Graves)
Everything in 2020 has been different and so will the Summer Nationals tour. For the first time since 1996 the tour dubbed the "Hell Tour" will start in the month of July instead of its normal mid-June start. Also, for the first time it will be broke up into 2 phases with a 15 day break in between strings of events. With a couple of new tracks and some classic venues on the tour drivers and fans may feel some summer normalcy to the crazy year we have had.
Tomorrow night the Summer Nationals tour will look to kick off at Brownstown Speedway in Brownstown, Indiana. Brownstown, a mainstay over the years for the Hell Tour produced the biggest field of cars on the 2019 tour during its event. The location of the speedway makes it appealing for drivers in several states to drop in for a night of Summer Nationals action.
The question on everyone's mind heading into this years tour is who will make the attempt to run in all 26 events? This year more than any other makes it hard to pin point who will be a favorite in the Summer Nationals title bid. Due to the awkward schedule due to COVID-19 pandemic, it is wide open for the possibility of someone we might not expect to come out on top just by showing up at every event. With crown jewel events overlapping Summer National tour dates some of the nations elite drivers will be left with choices to make on where they will race. For example, Bobby Pierce a Summer Nationals regular may have to give up a run at the title if he elects to run events like the Show Me 100 or the North South 100. Pierce who has won both crown jewels will have to make a decision like many other regional drivers to forgo a chase at a crown jewel to remain on the Hell Tour. Another event that will shake things up will be the Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway at the end of July. The schedule this year opens the door to an interesting title fight as things close out at Oakshade in late August.
Things will also be different for the Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals. For the first time in several years the tour will not close out at Fairbury during the Prairie Dirt Classic. Instead just like the Late Model portion, it it will wrap up at Oakshade Raceway. Nick Hoffman will look to defend his title from 2019 where he dominated with win after win. Other drivers like 15 year old Hunt Gossum, who has been on a hot streak of late winning races all over Illinois will be aiming for a spot in the title bout. The tour will bring in the best modified drivers from across the country. Drivers like Mike Harrison could challenge for another title, Midwest standout Will Krup has proven to be one to watch in 2020. Then you have former Nascar drivers David Stremme and Kenny Wallace who will run their share of events trying to put together their best 8 finishes for a title run.
As we switch back to the Late Models, defending champion Brian Shirley has announced he will be at Brownstown Speedway but no indication has been given that we will see him at every event this year. Brian will be the favorite to watch if the multi-time champion of the summer series decides to run the whole schedule. Two drivers looking to compete this year will add some spice to the tour. Tyler Carpenter, the 2019 Gateway Dirt Nationals Champion made an announcement last week that he will start off on the first week of the tour and if things go well he will intend to run the whole thing. Ryan Gustin, a driver they call 'The Reaper' will also make his stab at the tour this year. Throw in drivers like Rusty Schlenk, Frank Heckenast Jr, & Jason Feger and we will have some special moments along this years tour.
Things to watch and questions to be answered along the tour:
Will Billy Moyer, the all time wins leader in Summer Nationals action make an attempt to run all this years events? He has 100 career wins.
Will Shannon Babb be able to pick up 2 wins on the tour to get to the 100 all-time wins mark on the Summer Nationals tour?
Who will forgo the crown jewel lure to run every event and win the 2020 tour?
It's always fun for 1st time winners, who gets their first career Summer Nationals win in 2020?
What track will allure the most competitors and have the highest car count on the tour?
Which track will produce the memorable moment of the 2020 tour? Last year Farmer City and Macon put on last lap thrillers won by Gordy Gundaker.
Who will be the breakout driver that will surprise us all and make a serious bid for the 2020 title?
Will Tyler Carpenter be able to put his West Virginia bullring skills on display and content for the crown?
Many things are left unanswered for this years' tour. But one thing is for sure, the race fan in all of us are looking forward to our favorite time of the year. We can all get out to our favorite tracks, watch the races, cheer on our favorites, and for a few hours each night forget about the craziness 2020 has dealt us.
2020 Summer Nationals Schedule
Wed 7/8 Brownstown Speedway (IN) $5,000 to win
Thur 7/9 Peoria Speedway $5,000 to win
Fri 7/10 Tri-City Speedway $10,000 to win
Sat 7/11 Fairbury Speedway $10,000 to win
Sun 7/12 Bullring at Rico County $5,000 to win
Tue 7/14 Plymouth Speedway $5,000 to win
Wed 7/15 LaSalle Speedway $5,000 to win
Thur 7/16 Spoon River Speedway $5,000 to win
Fri 7/17 Farmer City Speedway $10,000 to win
Sat 7/18 Highland Speedway $10,000 to win
Sun 7/19 Quincy Raceways $5,000 to win
Thur 7/23 Springfield Raceway $5,000 to win
Fri 7/24 Lake Ozark Speedway $10,000 to win
Sat 7/25 Clarksville Speedway $10,000 to win
Sun 7/26 Belle-Clair Speedway $5,000 to win
Tue 8/11 Sycamore Speedway $5,000 to win
Wed 8/12 Jacksonville Speedway $5,000 to win
Thur 8/13 Macon Speedway $5,000 to win
Fri 8/14 Fayette County Speedway $10,000 to win
Sat 8/15 I-55 Raceway $10,000 to win
Sun 8/16 Lincoln Speedway $5,000 to win
Tue 8/18 Kankakee County Speedway $5,000 to win
Wed 8/19 Butler Motor Speedway $5,000 to win
Thur 8/20 Thunderbird Speedway $5,000 to win
Fri 8/21 Tri-City Motor Speedway $10,000 to win
Sat 8/22 Oakshade Raceway $10,000 to win