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Bruce Yentes

Bruce Yentes

Bloomington dirt late model racing standout Jason Feger will soon become a man of the "world."

While the season winds to a close in about a month or so for most Central Illinois dirt track competitors, Feger has the World 100 to look forward to in September and the Dirt Track World Championship the following month.

The World of Outlaws World Finals then closes out the season in November and with two "worlds" in the heading, it has to be extra special.

This global billing is somewhat rare in short track racing, a sport that for years was a master of the understatement. For instance, New Smyrna Speedway used to proudly bill itself as the only race track "in Florida" to host racing events 52 weeks out of the year. In actuality, it likely was the only race track in the galaxy to be that busy.

Feger has been incredibly busy over a stretch that began on June 6 with dirt late model racing's most lucrative event, the Dream at Eldora.

"Starting at the Dream, we've been on the race track 30 days in two months," Feger said. "We also had 12 rainouts during that time. We've just been running wide open and I'm actually looking forward to a little bit of a slow time to get caught up."

Included in that stretch was the grueling DIRTcar Summer Nationals series that was to encompass 28 races in 32 days, but was limited to 18 events because of rainouts.

Feger won three of those events and arguably had the strongest car in the series over the final stage of the tour. He also began to learn a few things about the car that he hopes will help him in the upcoming "crown jewel" events.

"We've been pretty confident all year and I think we've come on to some more stuff to find a little more speed here in the past couple of weeks." Feger said. "Just stuff in the suspension, shocks and springs. We've been running pretty strong, but I think we've got some room for improvement still."

While Feger prepares to meet the "world," Dwight native Joe Howard continues his successful run in a sport with an international flavor.

Howard's 13-year career as an engineer in IndyCar racing has presented him the opportunity to work with Indy 500 winners Dario Franchitti (Scotland) and Tony Kanaan (Brazil). As the damper engineer with CFH Racing, Howard now works closely with Italian driver Luca Fillipi and told The Pantagraph he's enjoying the experience.

"Luca is always smiling, happy to be driving and happy to be at the track," said Howard. "At the same time, he's very demanding of himself.

"At every race event this season, we've seen Luca quietly grow his confidence, his race craft and his fighter-pilot mentality. Each weekend out, I see a more aggressive and confident driver, which is fun to watch."

Filippi, a former GP2-Asia series runner-up, is the team's road and street course specialist. He helped to provide CFH with a season highlight, finishing second to teammate Josef Newgarden of Tennessee at Toronto in June. The 1-2 finish came in a brief feast or famine stretch for CFH as it was sandwiched between a pair of early DNF's.

"Unfortunately, I have experienced swings like this before," Howard said. "I can't remember them all, because I think we tend to block out the bad luck or poor results. But I certainly remember big swings in performance at the Indianapolis 500. Those are never forgotten and still haunt me."

This season, CFH had two of its three cars finish in the top 10 at Indy, but was never in contention for the victory.

"Indy was disappointing," Howard said, while quick to add that overall it's been a solid season for CFH in its first year of operation after the merger of Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.

"The team has bagged two wins (both by Newgarden). With two races left, we feel we have a fighting chance for two more."

Continuing with the "global" theme, Tanner Whitten of Congerville nabbed his first GRC Lites victory last weekend in the first of two Red Bull Global Rallycross Series events at Belle Isle Park in Detroit.

Whitten was in an accident early in the second Belle Isle event, however, and relinquished the series points lead to Austin Cindric, the son of Penske Racing president Tim Cindric.

Whitten will continue his quest for the Global Rallycross Lites crown on Aug. 15 in Washington, D.C.

Bruce Yentes covers area motor sports for The Pantagraph. Contact him at byentes@pantagraph.com

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