THE THRILL IN BARBERVILLE: Nick Hoffman Makes Last Lap Pass For World of Outlaws Win at DIRTcar Nationals 

Hoffman picks up his first Late Model gator with a last lap pass on Chris Madden

Nick Hoffman spent most of his career as Volusia Speedway Park’s most successful DIRTcar UMP Modified driver, winning seven consecutive Big Gator titles from 2016 to 2021. On Thursday night, he took the next step in trying to do the same in a Late Model.

The Mooresville, NC driver resorted back to his Modified ways in the 35-lap, $12,000-to-win Feature, scoring his first Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals golden gator with the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models – his 23rd DIRTcar Nationals win overall.

“I made (Volusia) my home by running the bottom and middle,” Hoffman said. “It’s how I won so many gators here in a Modified and it fit my style tonight to make speed and make circles and it was exactly like the Modified.”

Winfield, TN’s Mike Marlar and Gray Court, SC’s Chris Madden led the stacked 30-car field to the initial Gorsuch Performance green flag. Marlar first claimed the lead until he slipped over the cushion in Turn 2 – opening the door for Martinsville, IN’s Ricky Thornton Jr. to take the lead.

Three laps later, Thornton copied Marlar by jumping the cushion in the same corner, surrendering the lead to “The Winfield Warrior.”

Marlar held the hungry field at bay for half of the race until lap traffic hindered him, causing Marlar to lose the lead once more – this time to Madden.

Madden used the high line predominantly to hold his lead, fighting new contenders for the win in Hoffman and Oakwood, IL’s Bobby Pierce.

Hoffman, using the bottom line, continued to inch closer to “Smokey” for the Feature win while Pierce was stuck behind Madden on the high line.

After missing a mark with three to go, Hoffman’s chances of winning seemed distant. But his determination persisted. Driving with “human horsepower” mentality, he threw his NOS Energy Drink #9 car into each corner, cutting tenths off Madden’s lead every time he returned to the throttle.

On the final lap of the Feature, Hoffman kept his right foot planted while entering Turn 1, propelling him side by side with Madden of Turn 2. When they reached the final corner, he dove low and allowed his car to drift high, hoping he’d drove in hard enough to clear Madden.

The answer was, yes. Hoffman cleared Madden by the center of the corner and held the lead to the checkered flag for his second career World of Outlaws win.

Hoffman joins Kyle Strickler, Ryan Gustin and Kyle Bronson as the only drivers to win a DIRTcar Nationals gator in both a DIRTcar UMP Modified and Late Model.

“It’s unreal,” Hoffman said. “With about two or three to go, I made a mistake and the wheel spun down the straightaway and I thought I screwed this deal up and I got the momentum back rolling and in the last two (laps) I drove super hard and could notice Chris was getting pretty tight across one and two and he couldn’t make a whole lot of speed. That allowed me to get to him at the white and in (Turn) three, I bombed her off in there just made sure I was clear of Chris.

“At that point, I was gonna cross whether I was clear or not. The car was so good. I wasn’t sure if I would even get there because Bobby was on the top and on the restarts, I was worried about him clearing me and taking my line, but it worked out perfect.”

Madden came across the line to finish in second after a night that saw him win the Simpson Quick Time Award and lead 15 laps of the Feature.

“It was a good race,” Madden said. “We just got to where we couldn’t steer through (Turns) one and two and couldn’t carry the speed. Nick was able to run around the bottom there and got some speed and got us to the checkered.”

Pierce closed out the night’s top-three finishers, hoping to have stayed in second place to have a chance at winning when he had been clearly ahead of Hoffman.

“It was really tough out there,” Pierce said. “I told the guys that I put myself in a situation where I was constantly in dirty air. I wish that when I got to second that I could have held Nick off. The one time I really got by him, a caution came out. That was tough and I feel like I was burning my stuff up there constantly in battle.

“With Madden, sometimes I got really close to him, and I got more dirty air, so I was kind of stuck in this air pocket and that’s tough. Some of the hardest racing right there is when you’re in that dirty air and you got two guys running there. The track is super tricky as it is. It’s as tough as it gets. For us to finish third, I’m pretty happy with it.”

Thornton ended up in fourth after having to climb his way back from the early deficit. Daulton Wilson, of Fayetteville, NC, rounded out the night’s top-five finishers.

Centerville, PA’s Max Blair picked up the FOX Factory Hard Charger award after picking up eight spots to finish 12th in the tough field of 30 Late Models.

After tonight’s Feature, Pierce now holds the Series points standings, two points ahead of New Berlin, IL’s Brandon Sheppard and 16 points ahead of Hoffman and Madden, respectively.

UP NEXT: The World of Outlaws CASE Late Models invade Volusia Speedway Park for two more nights of racing from the 53rd Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 16-17.

Adjustments have been made to the purse, as the Series will now race for 40 laps and $16,000-to-win to insure drivers leave with a healthy payday if weather hinders the weekend. For more information and tickets, visit

If you can’t make it to the track, watch every lap live on DIRTVision – available either online or through the DIRTVision App.

CASE Late Models Feature (35 laps):

  1. 9-Nick Hoffman[4]; 2. 44-Chris Madden[2]; 3. 32-Bobby Pierce[6]; 4. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[3]; 5. 18D-Daulton Wilson[7]; 6. 157-Mike Marlar[1]; 7. B5-Brandon Sheppard[9]; 8. 99-Devin Moran[10]; 9. 16-Tyler Bruening[5]; 10. 97-Cade Dillard[14]; 11. 39-Tim McCreadie[15]; 12. 111-Max Blair[20]; 13. 1T-Tyler Erb[13]; 14. 5-Mark Whitener[17]; 15. 3S-Brian Shirley[18]; 16. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[22]; 17. 1-Hudson O’Neal[12]; 18. 18-Chase Junghans[19]; 19. 97C-Cody Overton[27]; 20. 40B-Kyle Bronson[25]; 21. 19-Dustin Sorensen[21]; 22. B1-Brent Larson[28]; 23. 114-Jordan Koehler[8]; 24. 30-Todd Cooney[29]; 25. 22*-Max McLaughlin[11]; 26. 17M-Dale McDowell[23]; 27. 12-Ashton Winger[24]; 28. 19R-Ryan Gustin[26]; 29. 20-Jimmy Owens[16]; 30. 14W-Dustin Walker[30]