The Chandler, AZ driver, led all 30 laps en route to his first Volusia Speedway Park Victory
A year ago, Ricky Thornton Jr. seemed destined for his first DIRTcar Nationals win—until heartbreak struck. He lost the lead on a late-race restart, spoiling his chances for victory.
History didn’t have a chance to repeat itself Monday night. The Chandler, AZ driver took advantage of a caution-free Feature, leading all 30-laps to score his first DIRTcar Nationals win at Volusia Speedway Park.
Thornton jumped to the roof of his car in Victory Lane, raising two fists into the Florida sky and letting out a joyful scream—knowing he got his redemption and the $7,000 paycheck.
“I felt like we almost had one last year, and we gave it away there late in the race,” Thornton said. “This is pretty awesome.”
While Thornton dominated the event, he knew he had to be sharp at the start of the race. “RTJ” lined up next to Brandon Overton, who won the last DIRTcar Nationals Feature in 2021.
Thornton powered ahead of Overton on the outside lane, grabbing a lead he’d never relinquish off Turn 2. The outside was where Thornton wanted to go, allowing him to set his own pace in the early stages of the Feature.
“I actually preferred starting on the outside; that way, I could run into [Turn 1] as hard as I wanted,” Thornton said. “It worked out for us; I got a really good start and got out in front of [Overton].
“I was trying to distance myself as much as I could; that way, once we did get to traffic and I had to slow down, they wouldn’t get by me. The top never really slowed down all the way, so it’s pretty awesome.”
As Thornton drove away from the field, Chris Madden charged from his eighth starting position to finish second. The Gray Court, SC campaigner, took the opposite approach from Thornton, using the bottom en route to a runner-up finish.
Madden felt he could’ve had a shot at the win if he had a better starting position.
“We needed to start closer to the front,” Madden said. “We qualified good tonight, inverted back, and then started, I think eighth there.
“We had a really good racecar tonight. I’m really proud of my guys; I’m proud of our finish; I’m proud of our car and what we learned tonight. It was a great racetrack, and we had a fun race.”
Defending DIRTcar Nationals champion Devin Moran crossed the line third—his 13th straight top-10 finish in 2022.
The Dresden, OH driver felt he wasn’t good enough on the outside to contend with both Thornton and Madden.
“Ricky was checked out pretty good, and I think Chris [Madden] was a little better than us,” Moran said. “We were probably a third-place car, we were too tight to run the top, and we just need to work on it a little bit and get it ready for tomorrow.”
Pole-sitter Brandon Overton finished fourth, and Dale McDowell rounded out the top five.
Ricky Thornton Jr. didn’t back down from a second chance at winning his first Gator—giving him DIRTcar Nationals redemption. It’s a momentum that keeps his eyes on a larger prize—a “Big Gator” trophy on his mantle.
The quest for a “Big Gator” continues Tuesday night at Volusia Speedway Park as the Late Models return for their second night of action at DIRTcar Nationals. For tickets, CLICK HERE.
The Super DIRTcar Series and the Xtreme Outlaw Sprint Cars presented by Low-E Insulation will also join the racing card.
An entire family of reptilian gold is headed back to Mooresville, NC, after yet another dominating DIRTcar UMP Modified performance at Volusia Speedway Park from the now seven-time DIRTcar Nationals champion, Nick Hoffman.
Hoffman scored the win in Saturday’s Gator Championship Feature, the fourth of his career, giving him his seventh-straight Big Gator trophy as points champion of the division. No other driver has won more than two.
Starting sixth, Hoffman had some work to do to get to the lead. Outside polesitter Kyle Strickler maintained the top spot through the first 11 laps before Hoffman caught him in traffic and blasted by on the bottom out of Turn 2.
“I got aero-tight a couple of times behind him, and then in lapped traffic too, when we were racing through,” Hoffman said of his chase with Strickler. “I just had to bide my time and slow down. I didn’t want to wear my tires out. We were killing tires earlier, so I didn’t know, being later in the night, how bad tires wear was going to be of an issue.”
From that point forward, it was all Hoffman’s race to lose. He was never seriously challenged for the lead again.
Meanwhile, the battle for second was heating up behind him. Strickler held second for a restart on Lap 13, but Will Krup made the most of the bottom lane that Strickler have him have at the drop of the green, swiping the spot away with a horsepower move down low.
Krup’s time in second wouldn’t last, however, as Strickler got another chance on a restart at the halfway point. He ripped around the top groove and was able to carry enough momentum to get back around Krup on Lap 16.
Looking back, Krup said he should’ve done more to miss a small patch in Turn 1 that upset the car, costing him some speed.
“I clipped it a couple times off that restart once I got around him, and [Strickler] was able to roll back around me,” Krup said. “After that, I just kinda fell in line and tried to bring home a strong third-place finish.”
Strickler gave it all he had to catch Hoffman in the final 10 laps but was unable to make up the gap. Hoffman’s lead was as large as four seconds at one point, further showcasing his dominance on the half-mile tracks.
“Any of the places like this here or Eldora – those big places that you can just momentum and make speed through the corner – I feel like that’s where my car is the best and it’s where I’m the best,” Hoffman said.
After redrawing the sixth spot on the starting grid, Hoffman knew he was not going to be denied of his fourth Gator Championship Feature win.
“Even with Kyle starting on the front row, I felt like my racecar was that good,” he said. “I had no doubt in my mind that my racecar was plenty good enough to do this deal from sixth.”
Strickler crossed the line in second with a car he said he could handle, but just needed more speed.
“We went a completely different direction for the Feature, and I got the feel I needed on the front-end, but we just weren’t stuck enough in the rear of the car,” Strickler said.
Despite his relentless efforts to catch Strickler, Krup came up just a bit short. However, the podium finish goes down in the record books as one of his best-ever finishes in the Gator Championship at Volusia.
“At the end of the race, I felt like I had a decent chance at [Strickler],” Krup said. “We kinda got in lapped traffic, but I couldn’t get around him. All-in-all, still a good run.”
THURSDAY MAKEUP FEATURES Saturday’s program began with ten, 15-lap makeup Features from Thursday night’s postponed program.
Feature 1 – Rob Pitcher
Feature 2 – Jonathan Taylor
Feature 3 – Michael Altobelli
Feature 4 – David Stremme
Feature 5 – Justin Allgaier
Feature 6 – Nick Hoffman
Feature 7 – Jason Garver
Feature 8 – Billy Green
Feature 9 – Tony Anderson
Feature 10 – Rich Michael Jr.
UP NEXT The UMP Modified portion of the 51st DIRTcar Nationals is complete, but DIRTcar Racing isn’t done at Volusia just yet. The event breaks on Sunday but will return to action on Monday with the DIRTcar Late Models alongside the debut of the Xtreme Outlaw Series Non-Wing Sprint Cars.
Buy a ticket to watch it in person or stream every lap live on DIRTVision.
The top-10 finishers from the two Gator Qualifier Features have locked themselves into the grand finale, which will pay $5,000-to-win and award the iconic Big Gator trophy. The top-5 from each Qualifier have been locked into the redraw on Saturday, which will randomize the top-10 starting positions before the start of the 30-lap main event.
The five makeup Features added to Friday’s program, scheduled to race after the Gator Qualifiers, were canceled and will not be made up. The purse money for those five races has been added into the 10 makeup Features from Thursday night, which will kick off the Saturday program, beginning at noon Eastern.
GATOR QUALIFIER #1 Will Krup has been a DIRTcar Nationals regular for the past several years, but hadn’t been to Victory Lane in the event since 2017. That all changed Friday night, as he steered his Longhorn by Loenbro Modified #K9 to victory, thanks to a brilliant move on the bottom lane.
Krup trailed race leader Tyler Nicely in the opening laps but kept pace with him, waiting for the right moment to pounce and make the move. Krup had a great run going down low and powered around Nicely down the backstretch to take the lead on Lap 4.
Several caution flags were thrown from that point forward, including one for Nicely himself. He spun out in Turns 3-4 and was forced to go to the tail, but wouldn’t stay long as he retired early to the pit area. A few more caution flags in the proceeding laps forced the race past its time limit, making the race official with 11 laps completed.
“The racetrack is definitely a lot better than it was yesterday,” Krup said. “I’ve got to thank everyone who is a part of this deal. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do this. The car was good. Sucks they cut it short, but we’ll take a win. It’s been a while since I won one of these gators, so it feels good to take one home.”
TOP 10 LOCKED-IN: Will Krup, Justin Allgaier, Mike Harrison, Garret Stewart, Zeke McKenzie, Hunt Gossum, Steve Stevenson, Austin Holcombe, Danny Schwartz and Matt Crafton.
GATOR QUALIFIER #2 When two of the winningest drivers in DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified history square-off in a main event, it becomes a must-see show. Nick Hoffman and Kyle Strickler didn’t disappoint in the nightcap to Friday’s program.
Hoffman went from fourth to the lead on the opening lap and began to set the pace right away. The only driver that could keep up with him was his DIRTcar Nationals nemesis – Kyle Strickler.
Strickler caught Hoffman at the right time as they reached lapped traffic, cashing-in on a big run through Turns 3-4 and sliding up in front of him to take the lead at the flag stand. A caution came out just after they crossed the stripe, meaning Hoffman had to restart second.
But the six-time and defending Big Gator points champion hit the gas at the drop of the green and did what he does best, sailing past Strickler with a power move to the inside down the backstretch to regain the lead.
Another caution was thrown one circuit later, forcing the race past its time limit, making the running order official and Hoffman a Gator trophy winner for the 21st time in his career.
“I just had to get my elbows up,” Hoffman said. “Kyle drove by me and was pretty good out there. I just had to get back on the horse and ride on that restart to get back by him in Turns 1-2.
“He’s super-aggressive. We’ve raced against each other for almost 15 years now, and I love racing with him.”
TOP 10 LOCKED-IN: Nick Hoffman, Kyle Strickler, Kenny Wallace, Matt Long, Clay Harris, Nick Allen, David Stremme, Rick Eckert, Brian Shaw and Michael McGee.
The DIRTcar UMP Modified action wraps-up on Saturday, starting with the 10 makeup Features from Thursday at noon, followed by the regularly scheduled Gator Championship program. Buy a ticket to see it in person or stream every lap live on DIRTVision.
Due to track conditions and taking the safety of drivers into consideration, the remainder of Thursday night’s DIRTcar UMP Modified program has been postponed to Saturday afternoon.
Fans will still get to see the 10 Modified Features when the program takes place on Saturday. Gates will open at 10 am (ET) with DIRTcar UMP Modified Hot Laps/Qualifying scheduled to begin at noon. Then, we’ll go into the 10 Modified Features, which will be 15 laps or 15 minutes.
Those who had a Thursday ticket can use that ticket to attend the postponed show on Saturday afternoon. Fan should save their Thursday wristband.
Once the postponed show is complete on Saturday, the grandstands and pit area will be swept and we will continue as planned with Saturday’s program, featuring the Big Gator Championship for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series and DIRTcar UMP Modifieds. Racing will start at 7 pm (ET).
There are no changes to Friday’s program.
For the full DIRTcar Nationals schedule, CLICK HERE.
A new format loaded with chances for DIRTcar UMP Modified drivers to win during the 51st DIRTcar Nationals has been prepared – for 2022 only – to determine an overall points champion and Gator Championship victor.
The “All-Features Night” returns Thursday, but with a twist due to the first three nights of racing being rained out. There will be two rounds of Feature action – five Features in each round – this year lined up by Qualifying results (fastest to slowest). The first lap will line up the first round of Features and the second lap will line up the second round.
Points earned from Thursday’s Features will determine the qualifying order for Friday’s “Gator Qualifier.” The field will be split into Group A (odd points) and Group B (even points). The top-10 from the A and B Features will be locked into Saturday’s Gator Championship race. Following those Features, a round of five more Features will follow – lined up non-staggered from Qualifying. The second round is another chance to earn points toward the Big Gator title.
Saturday’s Gator Championship Feature will follow its normal format to set the field for the 30-lap main event, complete with Last Chance Showdowns and redraw for the top-10 Feature starters.
The overall Big Gator Champion will also still be based on Feature points only.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision.
Thursday, February 10, 2022 – ALL CARS WILL RUN TWO FEATURES
The number of features will be based on total car count
All cars will hot lap based on their pill draw
All cars will qualify based on their pill draw – 2 laps (Green, White, Checkered)
It will be overall qualifying (all cars will be qualifying against each other)
Lap 1 of your qualifying time will line you up for the first set of features
Lap 2 of your qualifying time will line you up for the second set of features
Features will be lined up non-staggered based on qualifying fastest to slowest. We will run the features from slowest feature to fastest feature (5, 4, 3, 2, 1)
All drivers will earn points for their qualifying effort
1st place will get 200 points, each position after that will drop by 1 point down to 1 point. (1st – 100, 2nd – 98, 3rd – 96, etc.)
All drivers will earn feature event points (80, 75, 70, 65, 60, 55, 53, 51, 49, 47, 45, then down by 1.)
All points from your efforts on Thursday will lineup your events for Friday.
Friday, February 11, 2022
All cars will hot lap/qualify
Qualifying groups will be sorted based on overall points from Thursday, with odd-placed positions being in Group A and even-placed positions being in Group B.
All cars will qualify – 2 laps (Green, White, Checkered)
You will qualify overall within your Group A or Group B
Each Group will have 4 Heat Races, 2 Last Chance Showdowns and a Feature
Heat Races will be lined up based on your fastest qualifying time.
Heat Transfers will be announced at the driver’s meeting
LCS Transfers will be announced at the driver’s meeting
Top 10 from each feature will be locked into the Gator Championship
The 2nd round of features will be lined up non-staggered based on qualifying, fastest to slowest. We will run the features from slowest feature to fastest feature (5, 4, 3, 2, 1). Lap 2 of your qualifying time will line you up for the second set of features.
Saturday, February 12, 2022
Cars that are not locked in will run Last Chance Showdowns
We will line up the LCS based on the 1st round of Feature finishes from Friday
LCS Transfers will be announced at the driver’s meeting
We will have provisionals
Gator Championship will be 30 Laps
Overall Gator Championship Points will be based on Feature points only
Despite sunshine and clear skies on Wednesday afternoon, the continued rainfall Tuesday night into the early-morning hours on Wednesday has further saturated the Volusia Speedway Park grounds, forcing track and DIRTcar officials to cancel Wednesday’s DIRTcar Nationals program with driver safety and track preservation in mind.
DIRTcar Nationals will now kick off with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars and DIRTcar UMP Modifieds one hour earlier on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Grandstand gates will open at 4pm. Wednesday’s program will not be made up.
Those who purchased a ticket in advance to Wednesday’s event will receive a face-value credit to their MyDirtTickets.com account to be used towards any World of Outlaws event available at WorldofOutlaws.com/tix. If a credit to your account does not work for you, then you have until March 9 to request a refund. A refund request can be made by CLICKING HERE.
For the day’s full schedule of events and to get tickets, CLICK HERE.
Rain that started over the weekend and has continued into Tuesday has led to over-saturated grounds at Volusia Speedway Park, forcing DIRTcar and track officials to cancel Tuesday’s portion of the 51st DIRTcar Nationals. Tuesday’s events will not be made up.
Fortunately, clear skies and rising temperatures are forecasted for the rest of the week so the DIRTcar Nationals is now set to kick off on Wednesday, Feb. 9, with DIRTcar UMP Modifeds and All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars.
Those who purchased a ticket in advance to Tuesday’s event will receive a face-value credit to their MyDirtTickets.com account to be used towards any World of Outlaws event available at WorldofOutlaws.com/tix. If a credit to your account does not work for you, then you have until March 8 to request a refund. A refund request can be made by CLICKING HERE.
For the day’s full schedule of events and to get tickets, CLICK HERE.
Due to persistent rain showers over the weekend creating saturated grounds and a high-water table at Volusia Speedway Park have forced World of Outlaws, DIRTcar and track officials to cancel Monday night’s activities. The decision also comes to produce the best racing conditions possible for the remainder of the event.
Monday’s DIRTcar UMP Modified and DIRTcar Pro Late Model events will not be made up.
Anyone with a three-day Sunshine Nationals ticket can mail it to the World Racing Group office – 7575 West Winds Blvd. Suite D Concord, NC 28027 – for a refund. Please provide your name, return address and telephone number.
Those who purchased a ticket in advance to Monday’s event will receive a face-value credit to theirMyDirtTickets.comaccount to be used towards any World of Outlaws event available atWorldofOutlaws.com/tix. If a credit to your account does not work for you, then you have until March 7 to request a refund. To request a refund, CLICK HERE.
DIRTcar Nationals will now kick off on Tuesday, Feb. 8, with the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds and All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars. Everything for that event is still on schedule.
For more information on DIRTcar Nationals, follow along at DIRTcarNationals.com and on Twitter.
1991 NASCAR win on Volusia asphalt commemorated with special black-green wrap
From competing at the highest ranks of NASCAR to racing at dirt tracks across the country all season long, Kenny Wallace amassed a fanbase larger than he could’ve imagined. And this year, while he’s not saying goodbye, he’s giving them a final full-time tour with a hint of nostalgia.
Wallace will be scaling back his racing a bit in 2023, after a 38-year professional career in the sport. To celebrate his career accomplishments, he plans on running special designs on his DIRTcar UMP Modified throughout 2022, starting with the track he holds a special merit at – Volusia Speedway Park.
Wallace, of Arnold, MO, holds what is one of the most unique accolades in Volusia’s 50-plus-year history as the only driver to win on the track in both its dirt and asphalt configurations. Volusia spent eight years (1989-1996) as a paved half-mile oval before being converted back to dirt in 1997.
In its time as an asphalt track, Volusia hosted several NASCAR-sanctioned events – including the Busch Grand National Series (present-day Xfinity Series). That’s when Wallace found his way into NASCAR Victory Lane for the first time in his career on March 24, 1991.
“As a competitor, that win at Volusia was everything to me,” he said.
A simple black and green scheme with white accents and yellow trim wrapped his Pontiac Grand Prix that day. Those colors will come to life again during DIRTcar Nationals (Feb. 7-12) when Wallace returns to the Florida track with the rest of the UMP Modified field for the first of six straights nights of racing to decide who takes home the iconic Big Gator trophy.
Wallace will have his Elite Chassis #36 wrapped in those 1991 colors for the entire week, commemorating a day that first sparked his next-level success on the big stage.
“I’m a kid who comes out of St. Louis, living in a single-wide mobile home, making like $20,000 a year, and we go to Volusia,” Wallace said. “We went there and put it all together. I remember qualifying 13th, and we won the race. We were good, and it was a major accomplishment in my life.”
The next time he came back to Volusia, the track was entering its ninth year back on dirt in 2005. Wallace had only started dipping his feet into dirt racing, but it didn’t take long before Volusia felt his impact, winning the second UMP Modified Feature of the 2007 DIRTcar Nationals.
“It’s crazy, we come back in 2005 and we’re like ‘Holy moly, they put dirt on it. What’s going on here?’” Wallace said. “So, I started learning how to race dirt; I just wanted to try it. We come back in 2007, and there’s like 80 cars there, and I won.”
Last year, fellow NASCAR driver and DIRTcar Nationals regular Justin Allgaier captured his first career Big Gator trophy as winner of the Gator Championship race. He previously won a little gator in 2016, and said to this day, the trophy still means more than any other win. Wallace echoed that same sentiment.
“There’s not that many gator trophies out there – they’re very rare,” he said. “There’s 365 days in a year. The gator – there’s only six possible tries.”
Since 2007, Wallace has added another three gators to his collection. Despite the unique trophy, however, that’s not what keeps him coming back every February.
“Volusia is a place for us all to gather,” Wallace said. “It’s snowing and the weather’s bad [at home]. It’s about going down there, the comradery, it’s live on DIRTVision, everybody around the United States is watching the races.”
After his run at the 51st DIRTcar Nationals, Wallace will return home to his native Missouri and prepare for one last hammer-down, go-all-out season as a full-time race car driver. The million-dollar question asks – why now? His answer is quite simple.
“It is true that I’m a hardcore racer, but I don’t think that I need to race the entirety of my life ‘til death – that’s not important to me,” Wallace said. “I’ll be 59 in August. It just seemed like it was the right time to slow down.”
Though he’s never been known as a “Sprint Car guy,” Wallace has looked-up to many of the greats with The Greatest Show on Dirt. He took many of their teachings into his own career, including his decision to scale-back.
“I studied the king, Steve Kinser,” Wallace said. “His last year with the World of Outlaws was at 60 years old.”
Like so many other motorsports greats have done before, Wallace is also getting the urge to dive into his post-racing career plans.
“Even Tony Stewart races when he wants to; he doesn’t run a full open-wheel series,” he said. “I felt like I needed to do that. I felt like I needed to give myself an opportunity to… get a motorhome, take my grandbabies around, and do what I wanna do.”
But until he decides to hang up the helmet for good, his legions of fans can still catch him at several dirt tracks around the nation. Wallace said he expects to race around 50 nights in 2022, including a few on the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals trail. After that, he’s taking his daily driver pickup truck, his 28-foot trailer, and going racing when and where he feels like it.
As always, his signature, nonstop social media presence will remain as active as it ever has been – with or without racing. He’s never been shy about sharing advice on racing or life with his followers and took a moment to offer-up something he’d tell that teenage version of himself, now an accomplished superstar, heading south to Volusia before that victorious day in 1991.
“People will tell you that you have time, and you don’t. Start going after what you want right now,” Wallace said. “I’m not saying go running around with your tail on fire, I’m saying do it now and go after it.”
Don’t miss Kenny Wallace and the rest of the DIRTcar UMP Modified field take on six-straight nights in the 51st DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, Feb. 7-12. Buy a ticket, stream live on DIRTVision, and keep up with all the latest DIRTcar Racing news and content by following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The NASCAR star shared his passion for racing at DIRTcar Nationals and why he cherishes his gator trophies most
Justin Allgaier occasionally peered into the Volusia Speedway Park pond hoping to see its resident gators during DIRTcar Nationals last year.
Each time, he found himself – the “Little Gator.”
However, there was another gator the NASCAR star was truly searching for. The golden gator; given only to those capable of winning during the historic DIRTcar Nationals event.
Allgaier had already claimed the unique trophy in 2016 with the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds – a prize he said he cherishes over every other trophy he’s collected.
“I’ve got the little gator that we won years ago sitting front and center in my trophy case,” he said. “It’s out in front of all the NASCAR wins. It’s out in front of everything I got because it means a lot to me.”
What he didn’t have yet was the Big Gator trophy. That prestigious life-size idol is reserved only to those who master the points battle for the week or win the biggest UMP Modified race of the event – the Gator Championship Feature.
Modified champion Nick Hoffman was on a path to conquer both last year but a rare slip by the multi-time gator winner allowed Allaiger the opportunity to slide into the lead. Hoffman tried desperately to run down Allaiger – driving a chassis built by Hoffman – but the “Little Gator” used all his might to finally earn a Big Gator trophy.
“More than you’ll know,” Allgaier said. “Obviously, the NASCAR side (driving for recent NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Dale Earnhardt Jr.), I love what I do, and I have great sponsors over there. I love the NASCAR side of things but there is nothing like coming out in front of you (dirt) fans. Everybody is watching at home on DIRTVision. Just putting it all out there with 30 of the best drivers in the world. I truly mean that.”
He’ll be back this year for the 51st edition of DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 7-12, to hunt for both gators again. Participating in the event is a privilege he cherishes, having visited Volusia as a fan long before he started his racing career. Even before the track had dirt on it.
When he turned from fan to driver at the half-mile track, he started in a Late Model before moving to a DIRTcar UMP Modified. He credited his years in dirt racing as a key to his success, which includes 16 NASCAR Xfinity Series wins and the 2008 ARCA championship.
“This is an integral part of who I am as a racer,” Allgaier said. “It’s a huge part of who I am. It drives me to be a racer. I love what I do on Saturdays, and I love the NASCAR scene. It is so totally different than this. They’re both great in their own right. They’re so totally different. Dirt racing fans are incredible. They’re passionate. They love their sport. And rightly so, right? Whether it’s Late Model, Sprint Cars, Modifieds, just in general they love this sport so much. And it drives us. You put in hours. You put in time.”
And don’t think he finds dirt racing any less stressful than his NASCAR duties.
“I get more heartburn and sleepless nights coming here (to DIRTcar Nationals) than I’d like to admit,” Allgaier said. “You know, it’s so difficult to come down here. And so many things have to go right. But you look at guys like Nick (Hoffman) who come here year in and year out, they find their way to the box. They make no mistakes. They’re on their game. The amount of focus and discipline it takes to come here, when you have this many cars, it really is incredible to see the talent level here right now. It’s really amazing.
“I think a lot of NASCAR guys come back here because we truly believe it’s a huge test of our abilities. A test of the people around you. There’s just something different about it. This week is mentally draining. When you walk out of this place, you’re either pumped up and ready to come back next year or you’re so demoralized that you’re ready to come back next year so you can redeem yourself. It’s pretty awesome. It’s something that… yeah, there’s really no words that can describe it.”
If you venture to the gator pond this February, you may find the “Little Gator” again peering into its depths, searching. Always searching for a gator – green and gold.