For Plover, IA IMCA Modified rookie Mike Jergens, success is something he’s been accustomed to since he got his start in dirt racing. Before moving up to the IMCA Modified division in 2010, Jergens was one of sanctioning bodies best in the Stock Car division piling up feature wins and impressive finishes all throughout the 2009 season. Although many racing enthusiasts in the Upper Midwest predicted Jergens’ transition to the Modified division would come natural, few could have predicted how quickly Mike would adapt to the style that is mandatory to be successful in IMCA’s premiere division.
For the man they call the “Flyin’ Banana” the 2010 season started with Jergens competing primarily one night a week at Algona Raceway in Algona, IA. Racing against the likes of IMCA Modified studs Jeremy Mills and Ryan Watnem paid big dividends for Jergens early on as his performance began to rise with the competition. Jergens recorded a couple top five finishes early on before heading to the first ever JR Motorsports Hawkeye Dirt Tour event held at Independence Motor Speedway in Independence, IA. With 59 IMCA Modifieds on hand, Jergens shocked the near capacity crowd garnering a 7th place finish. With the confidence picked up at the tour’s first event, Jergens decided to follow the rest of the tour during the 2010 season.
As the year went on, Jergens continued to race at Algona each and every Saturday night along with following the Hawkeye Dirt Tour. After his 7th place finish at Independence, Jergens followed with three more top 10 finishes putting him right in the thick of things in the series point standings. On July 20th, 2010, Team Jergens loaded up the #37 Skyrocket Chassis and headed to Fayette County Speedway in West Union, IA. Jergens look as if he might pick up his first career IMCA Modified victory as he battled up front all race long with eventual winner Darrin Duffy. In the end, Jergens settled for a hard fought 2nd place finish once again asserting himself as one of the toughest drivers on the tour.
Jergens recorded a fourth place finish at the Hawkeye Dirt Tour event at Upper Iowa Speedway in Decorah, IA before heading to Hancock County Speedway’s annual “Night of a 1,000 stars” on Thursday, August 12th. The names in attendance were legendary (58 cars), Jay Noteboom, Mark Elliot, Jeremy Mills, Ryan Ruter, Kevin Stoa, and a whole host of others. At the conclusion of the 50-lap main event it was Jergens garnering a 7th place finish against some of the best in the business. After a 15th place finish during night one of Marshalltown Speedway’s “Havock on the High Banks” Jergens held a one point advantage over perennial IMCA Modified kingpin Richie Gustin.
At the time, little did Jergens know that point would loom large in the end. After night two at Marshalltown and the series finale at Burlington both fell to inclement weather, it was Jergens pulling off what many believe as the biggest Cinderella story in the IMCA Modified division in all of 2010. Although Jergens did not post a win in the eight race series, consistency was the name of the game garnering him the inaugural JR Motorsports “Hawkeye Dirt Tour” IMCA Modified Championship. For his efforts Jergens received $1,000 as Series Point Champion as well as a free wrap from Chase Signs & Graphics (Contingencies were added as well).
With the Hawkeye Dirt Tour Series Championship all wrapped up, Jergens was still hungry for something else, his first win. Although Jergens had come close to pulling off wins on several occassions, the “Flyin’ Banana” was still without a “W” heading into his final weekend of the season. Team Jergens loaded up and traveled to Buena Vista Raceway in Alta, IA for their annual “Topless at the Beaver” year end event (October 15th-16th). The two complete show format allowed Jergens two opportunities to pick up that illusive first win. On night one Jergens charged from his 10th starting spot to finish fourth behind eventual winner Jay Noteboom. Jergens, however, who defied the odds all season long, held off a hard charging Todd Shute to score his first ever IMCA Modified win in thrilling fashion.
Like so many other rookies before him, Mike Jergens experienced a lot of ups and downs during his 2010 rookie campaign. With that said, Jergens also proved that he is definitely one of the top up and coming drivers to watch for in all of IMCA. Along with the inaugural JR Motorsports “Hawkeye Dirt Tour” Series Championship and his first feature win, Mike also finished 5th in the final IMCA Modified National Rookie of the Year standings.
With the potential Jergens displayed in 2010 it will be interesting to see what the driver of the #37 Skyrocket Chassis can do for an Encore in 2011. Whatever the case may be, Modified pilots in the Upper Midwest better take notice when the “Flyin’ Banana” is in attendance!