WHEATLAND, Mo. – Instead of slowing down with age, Mike Striegel seems to be picking up speed.
Coming off his first Lucas Oil Speedway track championship in 2015 in the USRA B-Modified divsion, Striegel finished a solid third in the USRA Modified chase at his hometown track in 2016.
“I think we did pretty well,” the driver known by his fans as the “Wheatland Outlaw” said in reviewing the season. “We ended up third in points, which was pretty good with what we had, running a 604 crate engine against some of those $20,000 and $30,000 spec motors.
“I think we did fairly well. I owe a lot of that to Jeremy Payne and John Allen. Jeremy helped me with my set-ups and John gave us pull bars and parts to make that set-up work. So yeah, it was a pretty good year for us.”
Striegel, 46, plans to campaign a B-Mod, owned by Springfield businessman John Stewart, and do more traveling to race in the new year. He still has several races circled on his calendar at his hometown speedway.
Striegel also will make a return to the USRA A-Modified ranks during Show-Me 100 weekend at Lucas Oil Speedway. That’s where he won back-to-back features on Show-Me weekend last year, in front of big crowds and a Lucas Oil Racing TV audience.
Plans are to use the same car for the A-Mod races, just switching out the rear end and motor to make it compatible to the rules package.
Following last season’s Show-Me wins, Striegel excitedly exited the car for victory lane interviews for television, pumping his fists. He called it second on his list of most-memorable and meaningful career wins.
“My favorite win, forever, was when I won my first-ever race at Wheatland a few years ago, just a week or so after Allen “Cowboy” Chancellor died,” Striegel said of his friend who was a long-time racer and former owner of the Lucas Oil MLRA Series. “I put his number on my car (that race) which was No. 45. I won that race and it was so special because he was such a good friend. That was pretty awesome.”
Striegel said one of the most appealing things about racing is going against young, up-and-coming talent.
“That’s what keeps me sharp,” he said. “You’ve got the likes of (teens) Andy Bryant and Kaeden Cornell. Those kids are the future of our sport.”
Striegel has been busy this winter. Along with his plumbing business, his Outlaw Racing Bodies is gobbling up much of spare time. He’s also going to supply bodies to Cornell in 2017, as he did Bryant a couple of years ago.
He’s also preparing his own car for perhaps his busiest season.
“There’s a lot of people involved in the success of a race-car driver and I couldn’t do it without them,” Striegel said of sponsors that include Stewart’s ENS (Enhanced Network Solutions), Gary Hubert and Lucas Oil Products, Allen’s Automotive, Fast Shafts, Scism Signs, JRS Shocks by Stovall and Real Wheels.
This will be his third year of driving a car owned by Stewart, who gives Striegel a chance to chase his racing dreams like never before.
“He doesn’t worry about costs, he worries more about what’s going to help you win,” Striegel said. “That’s something I’ve never had.”