BARBERVILLE, Fla. — Kyle Strickler powered to the lead Wednesday at Volusia Speedway Park, survived several restarts and cut off defending DIRTcar Nationals UMP modified champion Nick Hoffman in the final corner for a hard-earned victory.
“The car was really balanced on the top or the bottom so I could move around a little bit,” said Strickler, of Mooresville, N.C. “But clean air is so important here, so we went up to the top like we do sometimes, and we were able to stay out front.
“The worst thing you want to see here at Volusia is that blue nose (Nick Hoffman) creeping up on you. But we were able to stay out front, stayed up top and here we are.”
It was the seventh DIRTcar Nationals victory of Strickler’s career, moving him into a tie for fourth all-time in career event wins with 2007 champion Steve Arpin.
Opening night winner Michael Long and Strickler brought a stacked 28-car field to the green flag in the 20-lap feature.
Long maintained the momentum on the inside lane to edge out ahead of Strickler at the start, but Strickler never let Long stray too far out front and on lap five took the lead.
Strickler brought David Stremme, who started third, with him and the battle was on between the two rivals.
Strickler stuck his machine on the cushion left behind by the Sprint Car Feature earlier in the evening, and as he has done so often throughout his career, utilized that top lane to his advantage and began pulling away from Stremme and the rest of the field.
Four-time and defending champion Hoffman, who started eighth, was able to slip past Stremme and set his sights on Strickler, but Strickler had built up a big enough lead to keep Hoffman and the rest of the pack safely behind him.
Hoffman settled for second as Stremme crossed third, Long was fourth and Jason Hughes completed the top five.
Zeke McKenzie had to come through a Last Chance Showdown for the second night in a row, and after starting 25th, worked his way up to an eighth-place showing.
Feature (20 laps): 1. 8KS-Kyle Strickler [$1,000]; 2. 2-Nick Hoffman [$600]; 3. 35-David Stremme [$400]; 4. 18L-Michael Long [$350]; 5. 12H-Jason Hughes [$300]; 6. 23-Ryan Cripe [$275]; 7. 25-Tyler Nicely [$250]; 8. 24-Zeke McKenzie [$225]; 9. 17TE-Tyler Evans [$200]; 10. K19-Will Krup [$200]; 11. 36-Kenny Wallace [$175]; 12. 5-Curt Spalding [$140]; 13. 49-Brian Ruhlman [$130]; 14. 67-Garret Stewart [$125]; 15. 6A-Ryan Ayers [$125]; 16. 75-Terry Phillips [$125]; 17. 95-Michael Altobelli [$125]; 18. 11H-Spencer Hughes [$125]; 19. 3L-Jeff Leka [$125]; 20. 22-Dale Kelley [$125]; 21. 65-Todd Sherman [$125]; 22. 31G-Stephen Pedulla [$125]; 23. 19-Chad Bauer [$125]; 24. 99M-Mike Mullen [$125]; 25. 96M-Mike McKinney [$125]; 26. 21-Taylor Cook [$100]; 27. 7JA-Justin Allgaier [$100]; 28. 7-Drake Troutman [$100].
KSE Hard Charger Award: 24-Zeke McKenzie (+17)