The "High Side Tickler" is the defending champion of the North Carolina Modified Nationals, but that doesn't mean that the dirt racing star is feeling any added pressure heading into this year’s running of the event. Kyle Strickler, of Mooresville, North Carolina claimed the inaugural $10,000-to-win race one year ago and he’s confident he can do it again this year during the March 28 race at Friendship Speedway (NC), which will be broadcast live on 51 TV.
To purchase your live ticket to watch the North Carolina Modified Nationals on 51 TV, click here.
"I wouldn't say extra pressure," Strickler told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. "I think being in the position we're in we have pressure every race we go to, because we're expected to run well and be one of the guys to beat."
Over the past few seasons, Strickler has become one of the toughest drivers to beat in Modified competition and, rightfully so, is considered to be a driver that competitors know they’ll have to beat in order to win the North Carolina Nationals. He's the defending Renegades of Dirt Tour champion after picking up 10 wins in 2014, as well as the 2014 IMCA Super Nationals champion.
"It's tough to come off of a year like we had last year," Strickler said. "It was probably my most successful season. We've had seasons where we've had more wins, but last year we just won a lot of big races. As far as money earned it was by far our best year."
He's picked up this year right where he left off. The 31-year-old driver scored a big win at the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park (FL) last month. He held off a hard-charging Ty Dillon to score the win, using the high line like usual.
Now he's hoping to take that momentum to Friendship.
"You get on a roll and you get a piece that you can really work with then you go to the race track thinking you can't be beat and you can win everywhere you go," Strickler said. "That's a huge part of it. Confidence is extremely important. We got off to a good start in Florida as a team and a chassis company. We should be really good and I feel really confident about the piece that we're going to be bringing to Friendship."
One of the reasons Strickler is excited for this race is because of the changes that have recently been made to Friendship Speedway. Previously, it was a track where the bottom line was dominant, which didn't suit “The High Side Tickler’s” style of running around next to the cushion. Now that isn't the case.
"They really widened it out in (turns) one and two," he said. "We went up there and ran a couple laps and did some testing with the new car. It's a pretty neat layout now. I think you'll be able to have two and three wide racing in one and two. That's where you'll see most of the action."
If Strickler is able to tickle his way around the outside, the rest of the field better watch out. He's a driver with a soaring confidence level, and he expects to have the checkered flag in his hands at the end of the race.
"We go to every race wanting to win," Strickler said. "We do this for a living. This is our full time gig so we have to expect results. If we go there and don't run well or don’t win then it'll be a disappointment."
Fans unable to make it to Friendship Speedway on March 28 & 29 to watch “The High Side Tickler” and the over 50 cars expected to enter the event can tune into 51 TV’s live pay-per-view broadcast. To save time on race day, you can purchase your online video ticket now by clicking here.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Feature Photo Credit: KyleStrickler8.com photo