BARBERVILLE, Fla. — The final night of racing for the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds as part of the 48th annual DIRTcar Nationals was also the busiest in the history of the prestigious event.
Kyle Strickler ended the busy day by winning his second concsecutive Gator Championship feature and a $5,000 prize.
With the postponement of Saturday’s Last Chance Showdowns and feature as well as the entire Sunday schedule of events, the Ironmen of the DIRTcar Nationals completed the two postponed shows before the originally scheduled Gator Nationals Championship feature.
Strickler, 34, started third in the 30-lap feature and drove around David Stremme on lap seven and withstood a consistent charge from him while dealing with lapped traffic, to become the only repeat winner of the 48th annual DIRTcar Nationals for the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds.
“We’ve had a heck of a week with all the stuff that happened earlier here. We (Strickler and Stremme) might not like each other very much, but we’re both professionals and we definitely put on a show for the fans,” stated Strickler. “But we put our heads down and went to work, and it all worked out. We went out and did what we were supposed to do. Man, this is so awesome, this is such a relief. I’m looking for a late model ride for this year. That’s where I want to go looking ahead, and this is the best way I can show what I can do.”
By taking the green flag in the feature, Nick Hoffman clinched his fourth consecutive DIRTcar UMP Modified DIRTcar Nationals championship. The 26-year-old driver recorded one feature win, two second place finishes, two fourths and a six to wrap up his all-time DIRTcar Nationals best fourth straight title.
“We really weren’t as strong this year down here as we have been in the past,” Hoffman said. ” But we were very consistent, even when the car wasn’t capable of winning. To win this deal, though, you have to have consistency and a little bit of luck.”
Stremme finished second for the second time of the night, tying his best finish of the week in one night over Whitwell, while Lucas Lee and NASCAR Xfinity Series star Justin Allgaier completed the top five.
Earlier in the evening, Lucas Lee scored his first career Gator in the Saturday Big Gator Qualifier Feature. The 31-year-old started on the outside of the front row and after beating polesitter Stremme to the first corner, never looked back. Lee became the ninth different feature winner and eighth first-time Gator winner of the week.
Stremme finished second, while Allgaier posted his best finish of the week in third to complete the podium finishers. Hoffman was fourth and Shon Flannery rounded out the top five.
During the Sunday, February 10 show, also postponed due to weather, Strickler started the night off by winning his first Gator of the 2019 DIRTcar Nationals and becoming the 10th different winner in 10 features leading into the Big Gator Championship.
Strickler started on the pole and, after a hard-fought battle with Ruhlman and later Whitwell, led all 20 laps for his first feature win of the night.
Whitwell finished second over Zeke McKenzie, who grabbed his best finish of the week by rounding out the top final top five.