Kyle Strickler “The High Side Tickler” lived up to his nickname on Wednesday night at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida. Starting from the pole position, the Mooresville, North Carolina driver tickled the high side of the race track throughout the 20-lap UMP DIRTcar Modified feature and pulled away from NASCAR’s Dillon brothers (Ty and Austin) to win his second career gator at the DIRTcar Nationals.
“I didn’t have much of a choice,” Strickler said when asked in victory lane about living up to his nickname. “I knew the top was going to be really good, so I just tried to be patient. These Lethal Chassis cars just steer so good, so I wanted to keep it as straight as I could and not jump the cushion.”
From the moment the green flag waved, Strickler appeared to have the dominant car. Early on, he and Ty Dillon pulled away from the rest of the field by nearly a straightaway before encountering heavy lapped traffic. “The High Side Tickler” would use the slower traffic to his advantage as he built up a nearly three second lead over Dillon. But none of that mattered when the caution flag waved on lap 24 setting up a six lap shootout.
“Lapped traffic was getting a little bit crazy,” said Strickler. “I wasn’t sure how close the Dillon boys were. Those boys have had rocket ships the last two nights and I knew they’d be coming. If I could pick and choose my way through lapped traffic, I knew that would help me. Starting up front was definitely important because it gave us that cushion. I got a good restart and got some of that moisture out of four here and quickly got to the top. Man, this thing is a hot rod.”
After finishing third in Tuesday’s night’s feature at Volusia, Ty Dillon would hold on to finish second on Wednesday night. The results had him thinking about one thing: improving one more spot during Thursday night’s feature.
“Kyle did a great job,” said the younger Dillon. “I thought I was going to get to him and maybe make a move but he didn’t mess up. On the last lap I got up on the cushion a little bit. I’m proud of the guys. We’ve got great cars. I was disappointed a little bit that we didn’t get to victory lane yet, but we’ll get there. I’m going to get one of these gators eventually. We’re working our way up there.”
Ty’s brother, Austin, mounted a strong charge from the seventh starting position to finish third just one night after picking up his first win of the 2015 DIRTcar Nationals.
“The top was pretty dominant and I was working the bottom,” Austin said after the race. “I was able to make some ground up in the beginning and then I settled in there in fourth. Then the restart happened and I got to third and started catching them.
“Team Dillon Racing, what can you say man? We’re going to come back tomorrow night and try to get another gator. We’ve got one already, so we’ll see what we can do. This has been fun and I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
Tuesday night’s runner-up finisher Nick Hoffman and Jackie Boggs completed the top-five on Wednesday night.
While all of the drivers will be back at it again on Thursday night hoping to win hold the highly sought after gator trophy, Strickler is just excited that he’s going to be able to take another one back to North Carolina for the second year in a row.
“We’ll take this one back to North Carolina and a little bit south from where the Dillon boys are from,” said Strickler. “It’s still going back to North Carolina, but it’s awesome to come out and race with these guys. All of the NASCAR guys, to have them in the Modified ranks that is one of the coolest things about coming down here to be able race with those guys.”
For a lap-by-lap rundown of Wednesday's action including behind the scenes photos and updates, visit 51's Trackside Now coverage presented by Seals-It.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
UMP DIRTcar Modifieds Official Results
Volusia Speedway Park (FL) - February 11, 2015
|6||64JR||Billy Workman, Jr.|