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llinois Star Feger Realizes National Title Dream At UMP Banquet
By Kevin Kovac
SPRINGFIELD, Ill.– Jan. 9, Rising Midwestern Late Model star Jason Feger, along with national Modified champion Gary Cook, Jr., saw his dream meet reality during Saturday 's 26th annual UMP DIRTcar Racing ‘Night of Champions' Awards Banquet at the Springfield Crowne Plaza Hotel's ballroom.

Feger, 31, of Bloomington, Ill., was saluted for his spectacular 2009 season, which saw him win his first UMP DIRTcar national championship – ending the two-year reign of Carpentersvile, Ill.'s Dennis Erb Jr. – lead the circuit with 23 feature wins, and capture the UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned Monster Midwest Series title. The homegrown talent's success earned him a total of $32,700 in points-fund checks during the gala.

Jason Feger                        (Erik Grigsby)

Over 750 attendees from more than a dozen states and Canada filled the ballroom to watch UMP DIRT Racing officials distribute over $400,000 to the organization's 2009 champions and top performers.

An approachable racer known for his outgoing personality, Feger surprised no one when he accepted his championship laurels with a heartfelt, banquet-ending speech that stretched for more than 20 minutes. He spent much of his time behind the podium thanking the people who made his championship season possible, including his crew – led by his younger brother Austin, who earlier in the night was named the 2009 UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model Mechanic of the Year by vote of the organization's membership. Also joining Feger were his mother, grandmother, chassis builder Bob Pierce, engine builder Matt Rhyne, and long list of sponsors.

Feger had especially kind words for Pierce, the legendary racer whose chassis Feger has used for the past two-and-half years.

“It's such an honor to race with my childhood hero and help make his business succeed,” Feger said of Pierce. “You can't imagine how much that means to me.”

After posing for photos with his close-knit team, Feger reflected on his career campaign.

“Earlier today I did a radio show at the Speed Expo (at the nearby Illinois State Fairgrounds) with Larry Lembeck and he kind of put (the national title) in perspective for me,” said Feger, who won the championship one year after being named UMP DIRTcar's Most Improved Driver. “He started naming off some of the guys who have won this deal and the history behind it, and that really made it sink in for me. To be able to be listed with a group of guys like Gary Webb, Erb, (Randy) Korte, (Rodney) Melvin and a lot of others – that's pretty impressive to me.

“Just to think that someday down the road somebody is gonna look back and see my name on this list (of UMP DIRTcar champions) – I hope they can have the same respect for me that I have for the guys who have won it.”

Feger's points-fund earnings were topped by the $20,000 he received for the national title. He picked up another $5,000 for winning Don and Bonnie
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