Racing notebook: Hell Tour ready to burn its way to Adams County Speedway

Hell Tour

QUINCY — The wait is almost over.

The 39th edition of the DIRTcar Summer Nationals late model “Hell Tour,” coupled with its partner, the 14th DIRTcar Modified Nationals, opens June 12 in Peoria. That’s one week before both series make their annual tour stop at Adams County Speedway on June 19.

“We have a great date this year,” Adams County Speedway co-promoter Jim Lieurance said.

The reason for Lieurance’s excitement is easy to understand. Tour stops across the front half of the 28-races-in-33-days schedule are guaranteed the strongest overall fields. As the tour evolves and some of the big-name drivers fall out of contention, they often drop out.

Quincy should have a stellar field.

“This might be the best date we’ve ever had,” Lieurance said.

Late models will race on all 33 days, traveling through nine different states before ending with the season at Wayne County Speedway in Wooster, Ohio, on July 14. The modifieds will run on 25 of the dates.

Winger, Nicely will try to defend titles

Last year, 23-year-old Ashton Winger became the first driver from Georgia to win the Hell Tour overall championship and the first driver from beyond the state of Illinois to take the title since Don “The Real Deal” O’Neal in 2004. Winger accomplished the feat on the back of six feature wins. One of those victories came June 28 in Quincy. 

Nicely, the 27-year-old UMP modified racer from Owensboro, Ky., clinched his first modified championship on the strength of five feature wins. Nicely, who was the first driver from Kentucky to win the points championship, finished 10th at Quincy. Nicely, however, has two wins in Quincy to his credit, taking back-to-back features Sept. 16-17, 2022.

Sprint cars invade Sunday night

The popular 360 Sprint Invaders series will make its lone stop of the season Sunday night at the speedway. They’ll be joined by the crate late models, modifieds and Crown Vics. The sport mods, stock cars and 4-Cylinders will have the week off.

Paul Nienhiser of Chapin, Ill., was the 2023 Sprint Invaders winner at Quincy when he captured a 17-car feature Aug. 20. Nienhiser is the early season points leader (686), winning two of the first three features. Ryan Bunton (638) of Morton, Ill., and Cody Wehrle (620) of Burlington, Iowa, are right behind.

The Sprint Invaders are headquartered in West Burlington, Iowa, and primarily feature drivers from Illinois, Iowa and Missouri.

This will be the final Sunday night of racing until June 23. The track will be closed next June 16 to prepare for the Hell Tour.

Early season breakdown

By dirt-track mathematics, we’re a month into the racing season. That’s the equivalent of four Sunday nights of racing, discounting the rainouts.

So what have we seen so far? Let’s examine the status quo, division by division:

Crate Late Models

Points leaders: Jamie Wilson 200, Jason Perry 195, Denny Woodworth 174, Tommy Elston 173.

Feature victories: Tyler Erb, Jamie Wilson, Spencer Havermale, Tommy Elston.

Biggest surprise: Spencer Havermale, who has consistently shown the ability to run up front in his first full season in the big-bodied crates. 

Driver to watch: Christian Miles. He’s young, he’s talented and has a legitimate shot at a spot in the final top 10 points standings come September.

Biggest disappointment: Kruze Miles, the younger brother of Christian Miles, has had nothing but sour luck over the first month. We haven’t really been able to see him race enough to truly enjoy the talent he possesses. 

Biggest question mark: Vance Wilson, who will have to overcome some major early season engine woes before is able to resume his quest for that elusive 200th career victory.  

Best new addition: It’s been nice to see another Wilson, Terry Wilson, once again racing full time at the Bullring.


Points leaders: Dave Wietholder 243, Austen Becerra 236, Trevor Neville 220. 

Feature victories: Trevor Neville (2), Hunter Gossum, Austen Becerra.

Biggest surprise: Neville was not expected to be a regular at the track this season, but now that he is apparently planning to be just that, can he also win the big iron?

Driver to watch: Keep an eye on Chase Holland of Success, Miss. He enjoys Quincy and the track so much he vows to make that long haul every week. And remember, he’s not driving that far to lose. He’s currently seventh in points.

Biggest disappointment: That no other local driver outside of Austen Becerra has been able to win a feature. 

Biggest question mark: A year ago at this time, Becerra started a dominating streak that led to his second straight series title. From the second Sunday in June 2023, he was virtually unstoppable. Will we see a repeat this year, starting this Sunday night?  

Best new addition: Right now, we’ll go with Neville by a car length over Holland.

Sport Mods

Points leaders: Tanner Klingele 116, Reed Wolfmeyer 113, Logan Cumby 111, A.J. Tournear 110.

Feature victories: Tanner Klingele (2), Patrick Phillips.

Biggest surprise: A.J. Tournear has officially added his name to the upper echelon in this division. The premier sport mod drivers are now a big four: Klingele, Wolfmeyer, Cumby and Tournear.

Driver to watch: Quinton Shelton was one of the most improved drivers in the series in 2023 and has continued to trend upward. 

Biggest disappointment: The overall lack of cars, which has surprised drivers and track personnel alike. That 10.3 weekly average is down considerably from 2023 (15.6) and 2022 (21.6). 

Biggest question mark: Can Klingele, who has come oh-so-close to a track title five times since 2013, finally grab that elusive brass ring? 

Best new addition: Not exactly a new addition to the series, but Lucas Schieferdecker is most certainly a new addition to the week-in, week-out contenders. Schieferdecker finished 13th a year ago in points, but looks to have a bona fide shot at a top-five or top-six finish this season.

Stock Cars

Points leaders: Jacob Rexing 155, Robert Cottom 155, Rudy Zaragoza 152.

Feature victories: Jacob Rexing (2), Robert Cottom (2).

Biggest surprise: That three-time track champ (twice in stock cars) Jake Powers has opted to drive only part-time in the series this season.

Driver to watch: Ricky Frankel III finished eighth in points in 2023, his first season in this division. He should improve — considerably — this season.

Biggest disappointment: The series temporarily lost one of its top drivers, Beau Taylor of Canton, Mo., to early season motor problems. But he’ll be back — at some point.

Biggest question mark: Will any of the series’ drivers not named Rexing, Cottom or Zaragoza be able to crack the top three in points? 

Best new addition: Triston Brown is knocking on a top-five points position in his first year at the Bullring.


Points leaders: Jaden DeLonjay 276, Jeffrey DeLonjay 240, Dyllan Bonk 193.

Feature victories: Jeffrey DeLonjay (2), Jaden DeLonjay, Matthew Mackey.

Biggest surprise: Jaden DeLonjay, who is the younger brother of two-defending series champ Jefffrey DeLonjay, has taken command of the division his older brother has dominated since 2022.

Driver to watch: Kim Abbott, who has three track titles to her credit, is traditionally her strongest in the second half of the season. This year will likely be no different.

Biggest disappointment: Only six drivers have been able to answer the call for all four features to date.

Biggest question mark: Will we see the return of Jimmy Dutlinger?

Best new addition: Aden Watkins has quietly climbed to sixth in points in his first full season. He got his feet wet a year ago, competing in four features and managing one top-10 finish in a main event..  

Crown Vics

We’ll take a closer look at this first-year series later in the season. With just one week of racing under its belt, any pro or con judgment at this point would be unfair 

Mark it down

Looking ahead, the midseason championship races for all weekly classes are set for June 23.

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