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Jason Feger action photo

Bloomington's Jason Feger goes around a corner at Fairbury's American Legion Speedway. Feger began the day Thursday in third place in the DIRTcar Summer Nationals Series standings.

There's been only one exception thus far to an otherwise solid DIRTcar Summer Nationals Series campaign for Bloomington dirt late model standout Jason Feger.

"Obviously, I'd have liked to have won a couple of races," Feger said. "But being third in the points right now isn't bad."

For Feger, the ideal spot to grab that first elusive tour victory of 2018 would be at a track close to home.

Beginning with Thursday night's Herald & Review 100 at Macon Speedway, he was looking at three chances to do so over the next five days with Summer Nationals races scheduled for Farmer City Raceway on Friday night and Lincoln Speedway on Monday.

Sandwiched between are trips to Highland Speedway in southern Illinois on Saturday and Quincy Raceway on Sunday.

Feger entered the stretch on Thursday with a bit of momentum on his side. He posted a pair of top-five finishes in the most recent events at Tennessee's Clarksville Speedway on Tuesday and at Faytette County Speedway in Brownstown on Wednesday.

"I feel like we've been making some gains with the car and being more competitive," he said. "We just have to start qualifying better."

Feger stands a distant third in the points standings. In front of him and almost out of sight are points leader Brian Shirley of Chatham and Moweaqua's Shannon Babb.

Shirley wrested the series' top spot from Babb with a win at Brownstown on Wednesday night, coupled with Babb's 19th-place finish.

The two are expected to continue to slug it out for the series crown when the tour moves east after Monday night's race at Lincoln.

Shirley, the 2012 Summer Nationals champion, has relied on consistency to propel him to the top of heap.

Babb, on the other hand, has a history of notable winning streaks leading to his four Summer Nationals crowns, the most recent in 2014.

He went on a patented "Babb tear" at the start of the 2018 tour, winning three races in a row after Bloomington's Billy Drake captured the opener at Peoria.

Babb also won back-to-back events at Haubstadt, Ind. on June 24 and Spoon River Speedway in Canton the following evening before his results began to precipitously slide in recent outings.

Shirley's win at Brownstown was his second on the tour. He was also victorious at LaSalle Speedway on June 28.

Feger, the 2010 Summer Nationals champ, stands a nearly insurmountable 174 points behind Babb for the second spot and is 196 points in arrears to Shirley.

Hence, he's realistically hoping to hang onto third with Frankfort's Frankie Heckenast and Ohio driver Rusty Schlenk hot on his heels.

Going into Thursday's race at Macon, Feger had a 33-point lead over Heckenast and a 51-point advantage over Schlenk.

With his familiarity with Macon, Farmer City and Lincoln, Feger is hoping to stretch the advantage before the series ends next week in Schlenk's Michigan and Ohio wheelhouse.

"Rusty's been running pretty good lately," Feger said, "and next week all the races are at his 'home' tracks. I need to run good at my tracks here in the next few days."

While Feger and his legion of area fans are hoping for a big night at Farmer City Raceway on Friday night, so is track promoter Lance Spieker.

"The Summer Nationals race is definitely the highlight of our year," said Spieker, while working on Thursday morning to prepare the track for Friday's event. "I hate to put the emphasis on one night because we do have two other big races. But (the profit derived from the Summer Nationals race) definitely helps us throughout the rest of the season."

The winner of Friday night's event will earn $10,000.

The Summit Modified Nationals, run in conjunction with the Summer Nationals series, is also slated to compete along with UMP Pro (Crate) Late Models and street stocks.

Hot laps are slated for 6:30 p.m. with time trials at 7 and racing to follow.

Bruce Yentes covers motor sports for The Pantagraph. Contact him at (309) 820-3391. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_yentes

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