Home > Divisions > Sportsman > Missouri’s Troy Naeger Doubled His Pleasure By Repeating As UMP Sportsman Champion in 2007!

Missouri’s Troy Naeger Doubled His Pleasure By Repeating As UMP Sportsman Champion in 2007!

Evansville, IN — Troy Naeger enjoyed winning the 2006 UMP DIRTcar Racing Sportsman National championship so much, he decided to go after a repeat this season.

The veteran racer from Festus, Mo., made good on his goal for 2007, winning the UMP DIRTcar Racing support-division crown for the second consecutive year.

Title number two, however, had a slightly different feel for Naeger. This time around he was focused on winning the national championship from the first green flag of the season.

“Last year I had no intention of running for the national title,” said the 39-year-old Naeger. “I thought if you wanted to win it you would have to run a lot more races than I was willing to run, so I started the year just planning to run on Saturday nights at my local track (I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo.).

“But about three-quarters of the way through the (2006) season, I started looking at the points and I told my guys, ‘You know, this is do-able. If we really set our mind to it, we could win this thing.’ We spent the rest of the year going to some other tracks in Illinois to get some more races under our belt (the national title was determined using a driver’s best 20 finishes) and we were able to pull it out.”

The points-chasing experience Naeger gained en route to the championship led him to alter his strategy for the 2007 campaign.

“This year I said, ‘I’m not gonna run around at the end of the year trying to get points,’” said Naeger. “I knew that winning the championship this year would probably take running about 30 or 35 races because UMP made it the best 25 races (to determine the national champion), so we decided to run Friday (at Auto Tire & Park Speedway in Benton, Mo.) and Saturday (at I-55) every week.”

Racing two nights per week was “a big commitment,” said Naeger. A married father of two young sons (ages 11 and 8) who makes his living as the owner of a trucking company that hauls mobile homes from factories to dealers, Naeger fields his own racing equipment and does most of the preparation work on it himself.

“I have some good guys who help me at the track and come by the shop occasionally, but I pretty much do all my own work on the car,” said Naeger. “That definitely makes it harder to race two nights a week, but everybody has different things that they like about racing, and what I enjoy most is the time I spend working in the garage.

“For me, going to the racetrack is the proving ground for what you do in the garage. Running well on Saturday night is validation of what you do in the shop.”

Naeger’s handiwork earned plenty of validation in 2007. He won 16 features – just one less than UMP DIRTcar Racing Sportsman national win leader Pete Stefanski of Wheatfield, N.Y. – behind the wheel of his No. 12 machine, an ’85 Chevy Monte Carlo built by Impressive Race Cars and powered by a 350 Chevy engine.

After overtaking Greg Kimmons of Pleasant Plains, Ill., for the national points lead about three-quarters of the way through the season, Naeger was never headed. But a strong late push by Missouri’s Troy Medley gave Naeger reason to worry.

“We started off the season really good, but when the weather got hot and the tracks dried out and got slick we kinda struggled for a little bit,” said Naeger. “Then Troy Medley started catching fire, and it was a real challenge to hold him off.”

Naeger took the championship by a narrow 22-point margin (1,637-1,615) over Medley, who won eight features. He’ll collect a $5,000 national title check on Jan. 12, 2008, during the UMP DIRTcar Racing ‘Night of Champions’ Awards Banquet in Springfield, Ill.

“That $5,000 makes life a lot easier,” smiled Naeger, who also captured the UMP DIRTcar Racing Sportsman Missouri State points title. “Before UMP started the national points for the Sportsman, if you won a track championship all you had to look forward to was probably about $500 (in points-fund cash). That money from the track was definitely appreciated, but having a national championship and some bigger money to shoot for really means something to a driver.”

It also gives a race team a nice shot in the arm. Just ask Naeger, who uses the championship cash to fill his racing bank account and the championship glory to help entice more sponsors to back his operation.

“I’ve been lucky enough during my career to accumulate a great bunch of sponsors,” said Naeger, whose dozen-plus backers include longtime sponsor Brookside Homes, Tire Bargains, High Caliber Graphics and Oil Time. “And now, after winning the UMP championship, instead of having to go hunting for more sponsors, I’ve had people asking me if they can be on my car. When that started happening, I said, ‘This is different!’”

With the exception of a couple seasons away from competition after he got married and bought a house, Naeger has been racing since 1987. He’s driven in an array of different divisions – including Street Stocks, economy Late Models, open-wheel Modifieds, Mod Lights and 600cc Mini-Sprints – but he’s found a home with the UMP DIRTcar Racing Sportsman.

Naeger loves the Sportsman class, which encompasses such similar divisions as Super Streets, Pro Stocks and Limited Sportsman. UMP DIRTcar Racing sanctions Sportsman/Pro Stock racing in 10 states and Canada.

“I’ve had people ask me, ‘Why don’t you move up? Why don’t you get a Modified?’” said Naeger. “I tell them that the Sportsman class just fits me budget-wise. I’m not going to take money away from my family to go racing – and with all the great sponsors I have, I don’t have to spend my own money to run a Sportsman.

“Racing is my hobby, and if I run in a division that’s more expensive, it will take the fun out of it for me. If I can’t afford to race competitively, I don’t want to do it.”

Naeger paused, and then added, “When UMP picked up the Sportsman and made a national points race for the division, it was the best thing that ever happened – especially for me. You always used to wonder how you stacked up against other drivers like you around the country who don’t really travel a lot, and now we have a chance to see.”

Will Naeger see if he can top the UMP DIRTcar Racing Sportsman Nation for a third straight year in 2008? He’s not committing to a title assault – not yet, at least.

But there’s little doubt Naeger would be a favorite to three-peat. His championship reputation, after all, now precedes him.

For more information on UMP DIRTcar Racing, visit www.umpracing.com .

Official Final 2007 UMP DIRTcar Racing Sportsman Points Standings

National Points Standings (Rank/Driver/Races Counted/State/Points): 1. Troy Naeger 25 MO 1637; 2. Troy Medley 25 MO 1615; 3. Kent Nations 25 MO 1609; 4. Jimmy Cummins 25 IL 1561; 5. Greg Kimmons 25 IL 1558; 6. Pete Stefanski 25 NY 1503; 7. Justin Ketrow 25 IL 1493; 8. Dave Bissonnette NY 1483; 9. Jeff Herzog 25 MO 1479; 10. Mike Jessen 25 OH 1476; 11. Ronnie Bader 25 MO 1444; 12. Kyle Borgman 25 MI 1430; 13. Tom Smallwood 25 IL 1425; 14. Chad Weinrick 25 MI 1425; 15. Stephene Lebrun 25 NY 1403; 16. Mike Harris 25 IL 1400; 17. Robbie Eilers 24 IL 1390; 17. Louie Jackson 25 NY 1390; 19. Justin Delong 25 IL 1389; 20. Clayton Benedict 25 NY 1381; 21. Joey Ladouceur 25 NY 1368; 22. Jason Keller 25 MO 1361; 23. Jason Unzicker 25 IL 1356; 24. Joseph Hamm 24 TN 1346; 25. Denis Gauvreau 25 NY 1343;

26. Jason Jackson 24 LA 1343; 27. Darrell Dick 25 IL 1341; 28. Josh Steinacker 22 OH 1315; 29. Allen Peters NY 1309; 30. Joel Funk 25 IL 1304; 31. Robert Brooks 24 TN 1298; 32. Stan Dodds 25 MI 1255; 33. Mike Hodges 24 TN 1246; 34. Alan Crowder 25 IL 1245; 35. Ricky Thompson 25 NY 1225; 36. Bruce Takach 22 OH 1214; 37. Brock Bauman 25 IL 1209; 37. Jeff Graham 25 IL 1209; 39. Brian Fisher 21 OH 1199; 40. Jarred Fremin 22 LA 1184; 41. Dion Oakes 25 NY 1178; 42. Kyle Stolzer 25 MO 1170; 43. Rock Aubin 25 NY 1160; 44. P.J. Peters 24 NY 1136; 45. Mike Guinon 20 MI 1129; 46. Tom Johnson 21 OH 1126; 47. Ralph Sternberg 20 MI 1122; 48. Tim Fisher 20 OH 1114; 49. Chris Smith 21 OH 1091; 50. Neal Grisham 21 TN 1088

ILLINOIS STATE: 1. Greg Kimmons 1558; 2. Justiin Ketrow 1493; 3. Justin Delong 1389; 4. Mike Harris 1373; 5. Tom Smallwood 1357; 6. Jason Unzicker 1356; 7. Darrell Dick 1341; 8. Joel Funk 1304; 9. Jimmy Cummins 1272; 10. Alan Crowder 1245

TENNESSEE STATE: 1. Joseph Hamm 1346; 2. Robert Brooks 1298; 3. Mike Hodges 1246; 4. Neal Grisham 1088; 5. Jon Wix 968; 6. Jimmie Davenport 330; 7. Kent Nations 58

OHIO STATE: 1. Mike Jessen 1465; 2. Bruce Takach 1214; 3. Brian Fisher 1199; 4. Josh Steinacker 1135; 5. Tom Johnson 1128; 6. Tim Fisher 1114; 7. Chris Smith 1091; 8. Joe Derbeck 1083; 9. Terry Hinkle 1004; 10. Robert Mayle 944

FLORIDA STATE: 1. Chris Day 970; 2. Stanton Mills 948; 3. Barry Sheffield 740; 4. Nick Kerr 616; 5. Robby Richardson 540

MICHIGAN STATE: 1. Kyle Borgman 1430; 2. Chad Weinrick 1425; 3. Stan Dodds 1255; 4. Mike Guinon 1124; 5. Ralph Sternberg 1122; 6. Mike Peterson 1027; 7. Kurt Woodard 992; 8. Jared Gunnin 964; 9. Rob Sternberg 961; 10. Mike Anderson 937

INDIANA STATE: 1. Ryan Huddleston 1084; 2. Doug McCullough 968; 3. Kenny Sweat 966; 4. Kenny Carmichael Jr. 936; 5. Troy Overstreet 913; 6. Brad Hancock 910; 7. Scott Buchanan 852; 8. Joe Whisler 837; 9. David Huff 822; 10. Mike Staggs 816

MISSOURI STATE: 1. Troy Naeger 1646; 2. Troy Medley 1585; 3. Kent Nations 1572; 4. Jeff Herzog 1479; 5. Ronnie Bader 1412; 6. Jason Keller 1369; 7. Jimmy Cummins 1341; 8. Kyle Stolzer 1133; 9. Joe McCain 1017; 10. Tim Hollerback 851

LOUISIANA STATE: 1. Jason Jackson 1343; 2. Jarred Fremin 1184

COLORADO STATE: 1. John Anderson 892; 2. Eric McGowan 752; 3. Don Adams 120

NEW YORK STATE: 1. Pete Stefanski 927; 2. Dave Bissonette 907; 3. Louie Jackson 889; 4. Joey Ladouceur 876; 5. Stephenn Lebrun 875; 6. Allen Peters 870; 6. Clayton Benedict 870; 8. Jason Parkhurst 866; 9. Bob Waters Jr. 837; 10. Don Barnes 834; 10. Denis Gauvreau 834

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