Story By: COLBY GORNIEWICZ / DIRTCAR – BARBERVILLE, FL – The $5,000-to-win Big Gator Championships for the ironmen of the 47th Annual DIRTcar Nationals, the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds was on Monday, February 12th.
For the past seven days, the Modifieds have raced every night of the week as their marathon week of races within the DIRTcar Nationals came to an end. Two-time defending DIRTcar Nationals Champion, Nick Hoffman came into the night needing to finish fourth or better to claim his third straight DIRTcar UMP Modifieds Gator Championship.
Hoffman would go on to finish second to Big Gator Championship Feature winner, Kyle Strickler who earned a $5,000 payday while Hoffman won his third straight DIRTcar Nationals title.
“We had a good racecar all week long. 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,” Smiled the 33-year-old driver of the #8 Longhorn Chassis entry. “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.” Added the driver originally from Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania. For the week, Strickler won, finished second and third twice each.
For Hoffman, the 25-year-old driver who is originally from Belleville, IL, the driver of the #2 Elite Chassis entry would become the first driver in DIRTcar Nationals history to win three championships in the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds. “Man, this is so awesome. 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.” Through the week, 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 Nick Hoffman, who started eighth, quickly worked his way into the top five by following fellow fourth row starter, Kyle Strickler, who started seventh. By Halfway, Strickler and Hoffman were second and third and slowly reeling in the race long 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, NC 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. Ryan Ayers scored his best finish of the week in sixth as Mark Whitener, two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion, Matt Crafton, opening night winner, David Stremme and Jason Beaulieu rounded out the top-10.
The DIRTcar Late Models continue Late Model week on Tuesday, February 13th before the World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series finish out the week over the last four nights from February 14-17th. The Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds take over for the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds and begin their stretch of five nights of racing also on Tuesday, February 13th and will also close out the 47th Annual DIRTcar Nationals.
For more information about the 47th annual DIRTcar Nationals and to order tickets, please call: 1 (844) DIRT-TIX or log onto the DIRTcar Nationals website located at: dirtcarnationals.com. You can also follow the DIRTcar Nationals by visiting the Social Media outlets. Just search for “DIRTcar Nationals” on both Facebook and Twitter for the very latest updates.
DIRTcar UMP Modified Results:
Feature (30-Laps): 1. 8- Kyle Strickler; 2. 2 – Nick Hoffman; 3. K9 – Will Krup; 4. 25-Tyler Nicely; 5. 7- Justin Alligaier; 6. 6a – Ryan Ayers; 7. 5 – Mark Whitener; 8. 88- Matt Crafton; 9. 35- David Stremme; 10. 90- Jason Beaulieu; 11. 96m – Mike McKinney; 12. 67 – Garrett Stewart; 13. 36 – Kenny Wallace; 14. 24z- Zeke McKenzie; 15. 17T – Tyler Evans; 16. 99H – Justin Haley; 17. 9- Ken Schrader; 18. 49- Brian Ruhlman; 19. 1- Blake Spalding; 20. 2×4 – Chase Collins; 21. 23- Ryan Cripe; 22. 18L- Michael Long; 23. 15c – Jamie Carter; 24. 14c – Rick Conoyer; 25. 4 – Rick Arms; 26. 77- Ray Bollinger; 27. 61 – Allen Weisser; 28. 22T – Tony Anderson.
Last Chance Showdown 1: 1. 67- Garrett Stewart; 2. 1. Blake Spalding; 3. 01- Brendan Rassell; 4. 22T – Tony Anderson; 5. 14c- Rick Conoyer; 6. 13- Todd Souza; 7. 71N- Will Norris; 8. 96-Matthew Johnson; 9. D4- Dave Jamison; 10. 27-Frank Paladino; 11. 45-Will Long; 12. 11T-Dugan Thye; 13. 07-Jeff Thomas; 14. 4s-Craig Shaw; 15. 85E- Jesse Stange; 16. 11N- Gene Nicholas; 1. 27G – Jason Garver; 17. 6B- Dave Baldwin.
Last Chance Showdown 2: 1. 49- Brian Ruhlman, 2. 9- Ken Schrader, 3. 17T- Tyler Evans, 4. 3- Steve Stevenson, 5. 15- Joey Miller, 6. 2J- Troy Johnson, 7. A1- Gary Bentley, 8. 54- Larry Burkins, 9. 99H- Justin Haley, 10. 21- Sean Monaghan. DNS: 71 Jessie Hoskins, 10T Dustin Thayer, 6P Marvin Barton