BARBERVILLE, Fla. — Four-time and defending DIRTcar Nationals champion Nick Hoffman returned to victory lane Thursday night during UMP modified action at Volusia Speedway Park.
Hoffman took the lead away from pole-sitter Mike McKinney on lap eight and fought off a late charge from his fellow Prairie State driver to score his first feature win of the 2020 DIRTcar Nationals and 16th of his career.
“The car felt really good tonight, but I was a little worried about where we drew in the redraw (sixth), especially with all the good cars in front of me. But early on I found a good lane of rubber early there and went right to the front,” explained the 27-year-old driver. “Mike (McKinney) caught a lapper, and I was able to get the lead. Then I just tried to stay out in front of everything behind me. This feels pretty good heading into the rest of the week.”
McKinney and David Stremme brought a stout 32-car field to Chief Starter David Farney’s green flag. and McKinney rocketed out to the early race lead as Hoffman, who started sixth, quickly worked his way to third and trailed the two front row starters.
After Hoffman slipped past Stremme on lap six, he set his sights on McKinney, and the battle was on for the race lead.
Hoffman got around the racelong leader and started to pull away from the rest of the field. A series of cautions bunched up the field and this allowed McKinney a second chance to get back by Hoffman.
Up to the challenge, Hoffman fought off consistent challenges from McKinney to score the win and complete the “Hat Trick” after winning the Fast Qualifier Award and his heat race. As a bonus, he also took over the points lead. Last year, Hoffman picked up his first and only feature win and took over the points lead on the third night of DIRTcar Nationals as well on his way to his fourth consecutive title.
McKinney settled for second for his best finish of the week, while Brian Ruhlman bagged his best finish of the week to complete the podium.
NASCAR Xfinity Series star Justin Allgaier also garnered his best finish of the three races so far with a fourth, as Jason Hughes finished off the top five.
Feature (20 Laps) – 1. 2-Nick Hoffman [$1,000]; 2. 96M-Mike McKinney [$600]; 3. 49-Brian Ruhlman [$400]; 4. 7JA-Justin Allgaier [$350]; 5. 12H-Jason Hughes [$300]; 6. 24-Zeke McKenzie [$275]; 7. 36-Kenny Wallace [$250]; 8. 95-Michael Altobelli [$225]; 9. 21-Taylor Cook [$200]; 10. 3L-Jeff Leka [$200]; 11. 7A-Shane Sabraski [$175]; 12. 99-Hunt Gossum [$140]; 13. 2A-Donnie Moran [$130]; 14. 1M-Curt Myers [$125]; 15. 67-Garret Stewart [$125]; 16. 5-Curt Spalding [$125]; 17. 8KS-Kyle Strickler [$125]; 18. 88-Matt Crafton [$125]; 19. 23-Ryan Cripe [$125]; 20. 35-David Stremme [$125]; 21. 52-Colin Green [$125]; 22. OOD-David Reutimann [$125]; 23. 18L-Michael Long [$125]; 24. 75-Terry Phillips [$125]; 25. 25-Tyler Nicely [$125]; 26. K19-Will Krup [$100]; 27. 7-Drake Troutman [$100]; 28. 11H-Spencer Hughes [$100]; 29. 4UW-Bobby Regot [$100]; 30. 1S-Brian Shaw [$100]; 31. 12-Jason Gross [$100]; 32. 45J-Johnny Broking [$100];