Barberville, FL — Night six of the 49th DIRTcar Nationals presented by Bozard Ford featured the second of two Gator Qualifier Nights for the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds at Volusia Speedway Park, setting the field for Monday’s $5,000-to-win Big Gator Championship. After taking the lead from his outside front row starting spot, Kyle Strickler in his potent #8 Bilstein Shocks / Longhorn Chassis never wavered en route to picking up his second feature win of the week and eighth of his career.
This win moves Strickler into a tie for fourth in all-time DIRTcar Nationals wins with 2009 DIRTcar Nationals Champion Jared Landers. Strickler and Landers are both now just a single victory behind two-time (2014 and 2012) DIRTcar Nationals Champion and current NASCAR Cup Series driver Ty Dillon.
“I wasn’t really sure where to run, and I couldn’t see my guys in the infield. They were right by a caution light, and I tried to get them to move around so I could see where I needed to move around,” explained the 35-year-old driver, originally from Sinking Spring, PA, but residing in Mooresville, NC, while talking to DIRTVision’s Dave Rieff on the winner’s stage. “The track really didn’t change much. I felt more comfortable at the top, but I was a little faster on the bottom, so I just tried to move around. We still have a chance at Nick (Hoffman), but man, I wish we could take that bad night back. But tomorrow is the big night for all the money. The Redraw is going to be really important.”
With 30 cars on the property for the second Gator Qualifier Feature, it was determined that all 30 would start the 20-lap feature with the Heat Races determining the starting lineup. After the Heat Race winners participated in the Redraw to determine the first two rows, Nicely and Strickler led the massive field to Chief Starter Dave Farney’s green flag, and as soon as the cloth waved, Strickler was on a mission. He rocketed out to the race lead as the rest of the field scrambled behind him.
A caution flew on lap five when a big pileup involving National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame driver Donnie Moran as well as Austin Holcombe, Curt Myers and Dave Weiteholder forced a red flag. After cleanup was completed, the green flew again with Strickler again jumping out to a big lead. Nicely tried to keep pace with the race-long leader — and a caution with just two to go gave Nicely one last chance — but on the final restart, Strickler again got away from Nicely and the rest of the field and sailed to Victory Lane.
Nicely recorded his best finish of the week in second as NASCAR Xfinity Series star Justin Allgaier posted his best finish of the week completing the podium in third. Ryan Cripe was fourth over David Stremme, who finished off the top five. Mike McKinney charged from his 27th starting spot and advanced 21 positions to finish sixth, and Michael Altobelli Jr. grabbed his best finish of the week in seventh. Ray Bollinger also finished in his best spot of the week in eighth, while 14-year-old Drake Troutman and Christian Thomas were the top 10 and are all guaranteed a starting spot in Monday’s Big Gator Championship.
Nicely collected his first Fast Qualifier Award of the week to give the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds a final total of five different Fast Qualifiers on the week. He also won his Heat Race as Bollinger, Allgaier and Strickler also collected Heat Race triumphs.
The $5,000-to-win Big Gator Championship Feature for the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds on Monday, February 10 will conclude the Ironmen of the DIRTcar Nationals portion of the 49th edition of the event. It’s also the start of Late Model Week as the DIRTcar Late Models make their first appearance at Volusia in thier first of two nights of competition before the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series takes over on Wednesday. February 12. They’ll finish up the 49th DIRTcar Nationals with the Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modified, who kick off their DIRTcar Nationals on Tuesday, February 13 and race through the rest of the week.
OFFICIAL RESULTS FROM VOLUSIA SPEEDWAY PARK, FEB 9, 2020
Feature (20 Laps)– 1. 8KS-Kyle Strickler [$1,000]; 2. 25-Tyler Nicely [$600]; 3. 7JA-Justin Allgaier [$400]; 4. 23-Ryan Cripe [$350]; 5. 35-David Stremme [$300]; 6. 96M-Mike McKinney [$275]; 7. 95-Michael Altobelli [$250]; 8. 77-Ray Bollinger [$225]; 9. 7-Drake Troutman [$200]; 10. 7CT-Christian Thomas [$200]; 11. 7A-Shane Sabraski [$175]; 12. 99M-Mike Mullen [$140]; 13. 75-Terry Phillips [$130]; 14. 52-Colin Green [$125]; 15. 24D-Travis Dickson [$125]; 16. A1-Gary Bentley [$125]; 17. 9-Sheldon Creed [$125]; 18. 4UW-Bobby Regot [$125]; 19. 5F-Jerry Foster [$125]; 20. O7-Curtis King [$125]; 21. 24-Zeke McKenzie [$125]; 22. 97-Mitch Thomas [$125]; 23. 8-Steve Stevenson [$125]; 24. 2A-Donnie Moran [$125]; 25. 11-Jesse Rupe [$125]; 26. 8A-Austin Holcombe [$100]; 27. 1M-Curt Myers [$100]; 28. O5-Dave Wietholder [$100]; 29. 90-Jason Beaulieu [$100]; 30. 88-Matt Crafton [$100]; KSE Hard Charger Award: 96M-Mike McKinney[+21]
-DIRTcar Nationals Press Release & Photo