BARBERVILLE, Fla. — Kyle Strickler claimed the $5,000 top prize for winning Monday night’s Big Gator Championship feature for the UMP modifieds during the 47th annual DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park.
However, Nick Hoffman finished second and secured his third consecutive DIRTcar Nationals title.
“We had a good race car all week long,” Strickler said. “We battled some adversity earlier in the week with the car falling off the trailer. But we never finished out of the top three the whole time. We didn’t win the Championship, but we got the Big Gator for winning five grand. We’ve been surrounded by Elite cars are week long. But we never gave up. These guys are just so good, but the results showed how good we are too. It takes some long hours to do this. It’s nice though to put this Longhorn ahead of all those Elites, especially tonight.”
For Hoffman, the 25-year-old driver who is originally from Belleville, Ill., the driver of the No. 2 Elite Chassis entry became the first driver in DIRTcar Nationals history to win three championships in the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds.
“Man, this is so awesome,” Hoffman said. “To win a Big Gator is pretty special no matter how many times you do it. These are so hard to come by and to do this three years in a row says a lot about this car and this team. There’s so many people that make this happen and I truly can’t thank everyone enough.”
Hoffman recorded three wins as well as two seconds and a third to win the DIRTcar Nationals title by 13 points (458-443) over Strickler.
NASCAR Xfinity Series star Justin Allgaier and Zeke McKenzie brought the stellar 28-car field to chief starter Dave Farney’s green flag. It would be McKenzie shooting out to the early lead while Allgaier and the rest of the pack scrambled for position. McKenzie would extend his lead early in the event as Hoffman, who started eighth, quickly worked his way into the top five by following fellow fourth row starter, Strickler, who started seventh. By Halfway, Strickler and Hoffman were second and third and slowly reeling in the racelong leader, McKenzie.
On lap 16, Strickler was able to slip past McKenzie to take over the top spot as Hoffman also followed him through to grab second. The two drivers who both now call Mooresville, N.C., home, pulled away from the rest of the field and began slicing through lapped traffic while in the midst of their battle for the $5,000 payday. Strickler would lose Hoffman in traffic, but Hoffman was able to get through it to set up a late battle with Strickler. As the laps clicked off, both drivers got away from everyone, but it would be Strickler who would fight off a late charge from Hoffman to secure his second Gator of the week, his fourth career win at Volusia Speedway Park and first Big Gator trophy.
Hoffman settled for second ,but would officially clinch his third consecutive DIRTcar Nationals title. Will Krup rounded out the podium finishers in third. Two-time Gator winner this week, Tyler Nicely, finished fourth as Allgaier completed the top five. The finish:
Kyle Strickler, Nick Hoffman, Will Krup, Tyler Nicely, Justin Alligaier, Ryan Ayers, Mark Whitener, Matt Crafton, David Stremme, Jason Beaulieu, Mike McKinney, Garrett Stewart, Kenny Wallace, Zeke McKenzie, Tyler Evans, Justin Haley, Ken Schrader, Brian Ruhlman, Blake Spalding, Chase Collins, Ryan Cripe, Michael Long, Jamie Carter, Rick Conoyer, Rick Arms, Ray Bollinger, Allen Weisser, Tony Anderson.