David Stremme

TOP 50 DRIVERS: 50 years of elite DIRTcar Nationals drivers

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park. In that time, hundreds of talented drivers have entered Volusia County, attempting to leave a winner. Many have. More are still trying.

From Sprint Cars to Late Models to Modifieds to Big Blocks, Volusia and the DIRTcar Nationals has served as one of the best time capsules for all of dirt racing. For the 50th year of the event, we went through the long list of drivers that have competed for the coveted DIRTcar Nationals championship title and picked 50 of the best to ever grace the clay surface.

These are the top-50 drivers of the DIRTcar Nationals in alphabetical order:

Steve Arpin

 

 

Dave Blaney

Scott Bloomquist

 

 

Kenny Brightbill

 

 

Clint Bowyer

 

 

Shane Clanton

 

 

Austin Dillon

 

Ty Dillon

 

 

Craig Dollansky

 

 

Rick Eckert

Steve Francis

 

Stewart Friesen

 

 

Tim Fuller

 

 

David Gravel

 

Brett Hearn

 

Doug Hoffman

 

 

Nick Hoffman

 

 

Jimmy Horton

 

 

Kenny Jacobs

 

Alan Johnson

 

Danny Johnson

 

 

Jack Johnson

 

 

Jared Landers

 

Steve Kinser

 

 

Darrell Lanigan

 

 

Danny Lasoski

 

 

Chris Madden

 

Tim McCreadie

 

Billy Moyer, Sr.

 

Don O’Neal

 

 

Jimmy Owens

 

Billy Pauch

 

 

Earl Pearson, Jr.

 

Daryn Pittman

 

Josh Richards

 

Brian Ruhlman

 

Joey Saldana

 

Donny Schatz

 

Kenny Schrader

 

Jeff Shepard

 

Brandon Sheppard

 

 

Matt Sheppard

 

David Stremme

 

Kyle Strickler

 

Brad Sweet

 

Sammy Swindell

 

Kenny Wallace

 

Pat Ward

 

 

Larry Wight

 

 

Doug Wolfgang

CHASSIS WARS: Top DIRTcar UMP Modified Chassis Builders Ready for Battle at Volusia

Drivers hit Volusia Speedway Park for seven-straight nights, Feb. 2-8, in 50th DIRTcar Nationals

Volusia Speedway Park will be the latest battleground of a chassis war among the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds during the 50th DIRTcar Nationals.

Elite Chassis and Lethal Chassis have been among the most successful brands in recent UMP Modified history โ€” accounting for 48 percent of all Feature wins recorded by the top-10 drivers in 2020 national points. But in 2021, a new challenger will look to end their reign.

October 2020 brought forth the formation of Longhorn Modifieds by Loenbro Motorsports into the DIRTcar realm, featuring the 2007 DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified champion Steve Arpin and Longhorn Chassis proprietor Justin Labonte joining forces to start the production of Loenbro-unique chassis from within their shop in China Grove, NC. The brand immediately recruited several big-name drivers to their lineup, including a few of Eliteโ€™s biggest names.

Strickler (middle) in Victory Lane at The Dirt Track at Charlotte at the 2020 Drydene World Short Track Championship with runner-up Chris Arnold (right) and third-place Nick Hoffman (left) [Michael Boggs Photo]
Longhorn by Loenbro made its first on-track appearance in the Drydene World Short Track Championship at The Dirt Track at Charlotte with 8-time DIRTcar Nationals Feature winner Kyle Strickler at the controls. A $4,000 Feature win Saturday night verified the brandโ€™s projected competitiveness and gave a glimpse into the future of the battle forming between Elite and Longhorn.

Two-time and defending Summit Racing Equipment American Modified Series champion Tyler Nicely, of Owensboro, KY, took the checkered flag in last Novemberโ€™s Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial at Volusia, besting Elite Chassis owner/fabricator Nick Hoffman and NASCAR regular Justin Allgaier in a 50-lap, $5,000-to-win throwdown. Hoffman and Allgaier drove their Elite Chassis to a 2-3 finish Saturdayโ€™s night main event, but could not catch Nicely, a former Elite pilot, making his debut in a brand-new Longhorn by Loenbro.

Their next heavyweight bout went down the very next weekend at 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, TN, where Nicely took his Loenbro Longhorn to Victory Lane on Friday night with Allgaier and Hoffman again finishing 2-3. But Saturday night was Hoffmanโ€™s turn to get one for Elite, besting Nicely over 25 laps to keep the friendly rivalry going.

While their competitiveness was on full display in the fall of last season, the Loenbro Longhorns will face some decorated Elite and Lethal drivers at Volusia come February.

Hoffman posing with his 2020 DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals championship trophy (Josh James Photo)

Hoffman, the two-time and defending DIRTcar UMP Modified national champion, has left Volusia in each of the last five DIRTcar Nationals with the Big Gator trophy and a total of 16 Feature wins in the event since his first in 2012. His triumph in 2020 kicked off one of the most dominant seasons in Eliteโ€™s history, featuring four of the top 10 drivers in DIRTcar UMP Modified national points standings at seasonโ€™s end driving Elite Chassis โ€“ย himself, Mike McKinney, Will Krup and Hunt Gossum. All four combined for 61 total Feature victories in DIRTcar-sanctioned competition.

Former NASCAR veteran David Stremme founded Lethal Chassis in 2014, serving several big names in the UMP Modified community that always bring tough competition into the state of Florida.

Stremme himself has two career DIRTcar Nationals Feature wins. Spencer Hughes pulled off a thrilling victory in last yearโ€™s Gator Championship on Monday night, passing Jason Hughes (no relation) on the final lap to bag the $5,000 prize. NASCAR Xfinity Series star Justin Haley scored his first DIRTcar Nationals victory in 2019, as did Michiganโ€™s Curt Spalding last year. Floridian Modified veteran Devin Dixon and North Carolinaโ€™s Austin Holcombe are also projected to join Lethalโ€™s roster at Volusia in 2021.

The 50th DIRTcar Nationals will feature a stacked lineup from Elite, including the regulars Hoffman, Allgaier and Krup. Kenny Wallace, who switched to Elite last fall, makes his first Elite starts at Volusia this year. Garret Stewart, Volusia’s winningest driver in 2020, and Kyle Hammer, the Illinoisan making his first trip south for Florida Speedweeks this year, also bring Elites for 2021.

Stremme in his Lethal Chassis at The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Melanie Cherry Photo, 2020)

Longhorn by Loenbro will also bring a stellar lineup to Volusia in February, including Nicely and Strickler. Arpin will make his return to the seat of a UMP Modified for the first time since 2008, alongside Floridian Modified veteran Jeff Mathews. Plainfield, IL-wheelman Mike McKinney will also be making his very first trip south to compete at the 50th DIRTcar Nationals behind the wheel of a Longhorn after spending all eight of his first UMP Modified seasons with Elite, finishing second only to Hoffman in 2020 national points.

The rosters for each side are set. Every driver knows the score. When the teams pull into Volusia to compete for seven-straight nights, the gloves will come off in search of dirt racingโ€™s most prized trophies. Thereโ€™s no telling what kind of history will be made in the 50th edition of DIRTcar Nationals when the ironmen hit the track.

Donโ€™t miss the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds in action at Volusia Speedway Park, Feb. 2-8. Tickets are on sale now at DIRTcarNationals.com or by calling 844-DIRT-TIX. If you canโ€™t make it to the track, watch all the action live from the comfort of your home with a Platinum Fast Pass subscription to DIRTVision!