The “Highside Tickler” will have a new car to rim-ride with in 2016. Lethal Chassis announced in a press release recently that Kyle Strickler will not be the driver of the team’s house car next season, leaving Strickler to head back to Harris Auto Racing where he got his start in Dirt Modifieds a few years ago.
Strickler spoke to Speed51.com powered by JEGS and said that the split between he and Lethal Chassis was amicable in nature.
“There’s no hard feelings,” said Strickler. “It’s not like something happened that resulted in us getting mad at each other and I got fired. It pretty much just came down to a business decision.”
According to RacingDirt.com, Strickler has signed with Harris Auto Racing, the same team that he raced for when he first started running Dirt Modifieds back in 2010. Strickler said he’s excited to race again with Harris Auto Racing because “that’s where my heart was at.”
“We were back and forth for about a week trying to figure out a deal that would work for everybody,” he said. “There were a lot of people that were pulling for me to go that way. It felt really good to put together a deal like that. I’m really excited. There’s a lot of supporters of my racing program that are also really pumped up about me going back to where it started.”
Strickler said the new deal will have him racing mostly on the United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS), but he still plans on hitting a lot of UMP and IMCA races as well in 2016.
“All that stuff out east is obviously my bread and butter so we’re still going to do a lot of that.” he said. “But obviously there will be a lot of extra races. I think we already have 85 races scheduled.”
A big reason behind the decision to rejoin Harris was to set him up for the future. He explained that he and Harris Auto Racing plan to do a lot of research and development on the race cars to be strong and win races over the course of a long period of time. But he also said that by reuniting with crew chief Austin Bloom, he hopes he’ll have success like he did in 2014 when he earned the most money and most wins in a single season in his career.
“This move is definitely for the long haul and for the future,” he said. “But we’re trying to make sure we have everything in place to have one of our biggest seasons yet.
Strickler explained that leaving Lethal chassis wasn’t about the quality of the race car, but more of a quantity-based decision.
“I feel like I can go in David Stremme’s car and win races all over the country,” Strickler explained. “He’s gotten to the point to where he’s selling the amount of cars that he wants to sell. There was only a certain amount that he could offer me and it wasn’t enough to make me stay. I have other offers from other companies that build way higher quantities of cars that I’m more valuable to than I was to Lethal.”
The three-time winner on the Renegades of Dirt Tour in 2015 explained that he still has an incredible amount of respect for Stremme, both as a person and a car owner.
“I learned a lot from him and I still look up to David,” said Strickler. “My racing career has always been to just go out and win races and do whatever I can to win races. I haven’t spent a lot of time on the business aspect of it, and that’s one thing that David Stremme really taught me a lot about.
“David Stremme is really good at the business end of it and making money. If I look at the numbers, David made it to the top of NASCAR, had a Cup ride and had some of the best rides and very lucrative deals for him. He’s not known for winning in anything that he’s done. I’m the complete opposite. I need to be more conscious like David is.”
Strickler said that just like any race car driver he still plans on going out and winning as many races as possible next year and beyond, but he needs to learn how to make money too.
“You can’t just have a lot of trophies and a lot of big checks hanging up, but no money in the bank account,” Strickler said. “I have to look out for Kyle Strickler Motorsports and my family and make sure that I can provide for them and in doing this for a living, that’s what I have to do.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo