Elite Chassis finishes 1-2, six-straight Big Gator points championships for Hoffman
The Little Gator is now officially a Big Gator winner.
Justin Allgaier cashed-in on his DIRTcar UMP Modified experience at Volusia Speedway Park Monday night for his second career DIRTcar Nationals victory and first in the division’s most prestigious event – the Gator Championship Feature.
For his efforts, a $5,000 check in his pocket and one of the most coveted dirt track racing trophies in the world headed back to his race shop.
Over 100 different drivers entered at least one event over the seven-day stretch, and Allgaier has now topped them all. Including his car builder and the newly crowned six-time Big Gator points champion, Nick Hoffman.
“We’ve been coming down here for a number of years,” Allgaier said. “What this week means to all of us as racers… I really don’t think people understand what the DIRTcar Nationals is all about.
“To have over 100 cars here this week and just to grind it out and battle some of the best racers in the country is truly special.”
Hoffman started on the pole of the 30-lap main event and looked as strong as he ever had been before, opening up a solid gap over the other leaders until the lapped traffic hit on Lap 11.
“I went into [Turn] one, and I don’t know what actually happened in front of me in the lapped traffic, but it was about four rows in front of me,” Hoffman said. “It looked like somebody was turned sideways and they were gonna wreck, so I checked-up because I didn’t know which way they were gonna go.
“Then they were four-wide down the back-straightaway; I got tight getting into [Turn] 3, so Justin passed me, then [Michael] Altobelli passed me. I think [Spencer] Hughes was alongside me; luckily the caution came out and saved me right there.”
With Hoffman now in his rearview, it was Allgaier’s time to shine. He picked up the pace throughout the rest of the race, keeping Hoffman, Altobelli and eventual third-place finisher Mike McKinney at bay behind him through several restarts.
McKinney came from 12th on the starting grid and made big gains throughout the first half of the race, cracking the top-five by the halfway point.
“There was a mud ring down on the bottom and some guys just weren’t really hitting it right,” McKinney said. “Once I hit it, I’d just wait for those guys to push up out of the groove and I was already set up to pounce on it when they made a mistake.”
Hoffman tried mightily throughout the final laps to catch Allgaier after making his way back around Altobelli for second, but just could not muster the speed he needed to get by his fellow Elite Chassis driver in the end. However, he was proud to see so many of the cars be built have success at Volusia over the entire week. His sixth consecutive Big Gator points championship is just icing on the cake.
“It’s one of the best years that I’ve had down here, for sure,” Hoffman said. “Very consistent every night. To run second to one of my team cars is pretty cool. I couldn’t ask for a better person to run second to.”
In Victory Lane, Allgaier jumped atop his Elite Chassis #7 before the confetti cannon was even in position, displaying his excitement after winning one of the biggest and most meaningful dirt races of his career after so many attempts at it throughout the past several years.
“I was able to win a [little] Gator on multi-Feature night one time, and I knew how much that meant to me. But this Big Gator, to add our name to the list, to beat the caliber of drivers we had here this weekend… there were a lot of teams that put on an all-out assault to try and knock Nick off, and we just got lucky enough that we were the ones to be able to do it,” Allgaier said.
This concludes the DIRTcar UMP Modified action in the 50th DIRTcar Nationals, but the Late Models are just getting started. Night #2 of Late Model Week gets underway Tuesday night with the second show for the DIRTcar Late Models; watch all the action live on DIRTVision!
Both winners now with a chance to start on the pole of Monday’s Gator Championship
Two of the biggest names in DIRTcar UMP Modified chassis building were shining bright on Gator Qualifier night.
Nick Hoffman, representing his own Elite Chassis, stood tall in Volusia Speedway Park Victory Lane with his 20th career DIRTcar Nationals Feature win Sunday night in Gator Qualifier #2.
The first Gator Qualifier from the rained-out portion of Saturday night was contested immediately following the Sunday Qualifier and saw the return of a former DIRTcar Nationals champion to Victory Lane for the first time in 14 years. Steve Arpin, representing Longhorn Modifieds by Loenbro Motorsports, was presented with his first Gator trophy as a DIRTcar Nationals Feature winner after leading flag-to-flag in Gator Qualifier #2.
The top-10 finishers from each of the Qualifiers have now been locked into Monday’s $5,000-to-win Gator Championship Feature; the top-five will redraw for their starting spots before the Feature Monday. Everyone else will be placed into a Last Chance Showdown event to try and get one of eight remaining spots on the grid of the big show.
Gator Qualifier #2 (Sunday’s program) – Nick Hoffman
Nearly nine years ago, Nick Hoffman captured his first Gator trophy at Volusia with a Feature win, then an up-and-coming UMP Modified driver with no national championships, Summit Modified titles or Big Gators. Sunday afternoon, he stood in Volusia Victory Lane after his third victory of the week in the 50th DIRTcar Nationals, now a favorite to win the Big Gator a sixth time.
On the track, it was another giant helping of Elite Chassis dominance, not only by Hoffman who led all 20 laps nearly unchallenged, but by many of Hoffman’s Elite customers. Four of the top-five drivers in the official finishing order are Elite pilots, including Hoffman himself, Garret Stewart, Matt Crafton and Justin Allgaier.
Hoffman now has a shot for the pole on Monday as he’ll be one of ten drivers in the redraw before the $5,000-to-win Gator Championship Feature. Sunday’s Qualifier redraw could be a sign of things to come for the five-time and defending event champion.
“Tonight, I was on my game on the redraw to draw the one, and I think that was crucial just to get out and set the pace and control the race myself,” Hoffman said. “My stuff’s just really good when it cleans up like that.”
Regardless of where he starts, there’s plenty of time in the 30-lap Feature to get it done from almost anywhere on the grid. He’s got the car, confidence in the seat and success in the history books on his side as he chases another coveted trophy that he comes to Florida every year in search of.
“[The Big Gator] is one of the most prestigious trophies in all of motorsports, and I’m lucky enough to have a bunch of them,” Hoffman said.
Gator Qualifier #1 (from Saturday’s program) – Steve Arpin
The last time Steve Arpin was in Volusia Speedway Park Victory Lane, he was a 23-year-old Modified ace who had just claimed his first DIRTcar Nationals championship on the back of five-consecutive Feature wins. On Sunday night, he made a big trip down memory lane with a dominant victory in the second of two Gator Qualifiers.
“Honestly, I have never in my life had such a proud moment in my racing career,” Arpin told DIRTVision pit reporter Chase Raudman after the race.
Arpin, the Rallycross racer and Longhorn by Loenbro pilot, started on the pole after a Heat Race win and cleaned-up in the Feature, leading all 20 laps for his first Gator trophy and first Volusia win since his event championship year in 2007.
Three of the top-six drivers in the Feature finishing order were Longhorn by Loenbro cars, including Nick Allen and Mike McKinney who have been fast all week.
“To have these Longhorn by Loenbro cars just so consistently fast for our first time out, honestly, the only thing I’m more excited about than standing here is coming back next year,” Arpin said.
McKinney did try and swipe the lead from Arpin on one corner after a restart, attempting a big slide job as they dove into Turn 1. He was unsuccessful and later faded back to sixth, one spot out of the redraw, but gave those watching on DIRTVision a bit of mid-race excitement.
The Longhorn by Loenbro bunch has been fast all week, notching several podiums, top-fives and top-10s. Arpin has been taking notice and expressed his gratitude for each of their new customers on the property.
“I remember when my dad was out here watching me in 2007, and I could just see it in his eyes how proud he was of me,” Arpin said. “I feel like that now watching Tyler Nicely, Brandon Green, all these guys coming out here.”
The seventh and final round of racing for the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds at Volusia Speedway Park goes down Monday night in the 30-lap, $5,000-to-win Gator Championship. Last Chance Showdown races will kick things off before the redraw; catch all the action live on DIRTVision!
Logano 19th-to-3rd in impressive UMP Modified debut; Michael Jr. beats division’s best in stacked Feature
Five separate DIRTcar UMP Modified Features raced, four first-time winners went to Volusia Speedway Park Victory Lane on Friday night.
Night #4 of the 50th DIRTcar Nationals was all about appreciation for each and every one of the 96 UMP Modified drivers signed-in for competition; everyone got to form-up in the four-wide salute to the fans and race a 15-lap Feature for $700-to-win and a chance to stand in Victory Lane, front and center on the DIRTVision cameras.
Each race was lined up by the overall event points standings going into the evening, inverting both the top-10 starters in each race and the order the Features ran in. When all was said and done, four brand-new faces and one repeat winner from last year stood in Victory Lane, collecting their Volusia Gator trophies as DIRTcar Nationals Feature victors.
Feature #1 – David Reutimann
David Reutimann’s first DIRTcar Nationals victory came on Friday last year in the quad-Feature night, setting the stage for his second act as Friday night’s only repeat winner of the five Features contested.
“We’re not in the race we need to be in, but it’s a far cry from dropping out nine laps into the Feature because we were terrible last night,” Reutimann said in Victory Lane. “Track’s a little bit different; they’ve done a great job. Track’s got a little moisture in it, so it was fun.”
Reutimann started 15th on the grid and advanced through the field rapidly, using the wrecks and restarts to his advantage to gain his first chunks of position. By Lap 3, he had already cracked the top-five and was hot on the trail of the leaders.
Reutimann finally reached the back of leader Taylor Cook as they got the two-to-go signal, and that’s when he pulled the trigger. A great run down the backstretch set Reutimann up for the pass on the high side coming out of Turn 4, which he executed perfectly to take the lead and the eventual win for his second career Volusia Gator trophy.
Crossing the stripe third was none other than the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano, making his DIRTcar Nationals debut in a UMP Modified. Starting dead-last 19th place on the grid, Logano avoided multiple wrecks in front of him and made several clean passes under green-flag conditions to grab the final podium spot in what was a very impressive first competitive start in a UMP Modified.
“I only got one gear, and it was to go,” Logano told DIRTVision pit reporter Chase Raudman in his post-race interview. “It was a good time, I finished third, that’s great, and learned a little bit. Got a little bit of damage to fix, and we’ll come back at it tomorrow night.”
The first of four first-time Volusia Gator trophy winners went to Jupiter, FL’s own Clay Harris.
Harris, a notable 602 Late Model driver, wasted no time, getting right to work on leader Troy Johnson from his fourth-place starting spot in the early going. He got a good run on Johnson on Lap 5, completed the pass and cruised home for the win after a late restart, despite making an error in car setup.
“We tightened it up for the slick and it ended up being hammer-down,” Harris said in Victory Lane. “We had a little hiccup, but we recovered and [the car] was awesome tonight.”
In what was easily the best race of the night for the lead, Nick Allen squared off with three-time NASCAR Truck Series champion Matt Crafton and came out on top in the end for his first career Volusia Gator trophy.
Allen pulled out to a comfortable lead from the outside pole in the early going but was quickly met by a challenge from seventh-starting Crafton, who was a rocket ship on the bottom.
Crafton pulled up alongside Allen and took the spot away for two consecutive laps as the field eclipsed half-way; their side-by-side battle bringing those in attendance to the edge of their seats. Allen then cracked the whip on the top side and wrestled the lead back, fending Crafton off in the final laps and crossing the stripe first to collect the $700 check.
“I knew [Crafton] was good around the bottom; I just couldn’t hold the bottom like he could,” Allen said. “I was just trying to carry a little more momentum through the middle.”
With Strickler, Hoffman, Stremme, Nicely, Arpin, McKinney and Hughes all in the same Feature, Richard Michael Jr. knew he had to be on his A-game if he wanted to win his first Volusia Gator trophy from outside the front row Friday night.
When the green flag dropped on a re-do of the original start after polesitter Kyle Strickler hit the Turn 2 wall, taking him out of the race, Michael pulled that A-game right from out of his pocket and put it on full display, leading all 15 en route to his first DIRTcar Nationals victory in dominating fashion.
“This is probably the biggest one of my career,” Michael said in Victory Lane. “We used to come down here a lot; haven’t been down here in about eight years. Every time we came down here, we didn’t have any good equipment.”
Once he got the lead on the original restart, Michael took off and flat-out ran away with the win, pulling away from the stacked competition in his Elite Chassis, built by Nick Hoffman, who finished fourth.
“We just put this car together about a week and a half ago at Nick [Hoffman’s] place. I’ve just got to thank him; if it wasn’t for him, there’s no way we’d be in Victory Lane,” he said.
The first of the two Gator Championship qualifying nights for the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds hits the track Saturday night in Round #5 of the 50th DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park. Half of the field in attendance will race while the other half will have the night off and return on Sunday for their qualifier night, all helping to determine a portion of Monday night’s starting field for the $5,000-to-win Gator Championship finale.
First DIRTcar Nationals win for Hughes while Strickler remains unbothered by injury
A new single-day record car count 96 DIRTcar UMP Modifieds signed-in to compete Thursday night at Volusia Speedway Park for Round #3 of the 50th DIRTcar Nationals and graced those in attendance with another double-shot of Feature racing action.
Jason Hughes, the Dirt Modified veteran from Westville, OK, made the move early on Wednesday night winner Tyler Nicely to hoist the gator trophy as a first-time DIRTcar Nationals winner in Feature #1. Kyle Strickler, with a bandaged-up finger and all, caught David Stremme in the thick of lapped traffic and made the move to win Feature #2.
Feature #1 – Jason Hughes
Dirt Modified racing and chassis-building veteran Jason Hughes had made multiple DIRTcar Nationals appearances with the UMP Modifieds in his career but had never been able to reach Victory Lane. Until Thursday night.
“I’m pretty happy, we finally got us a gator,” Hughes said. “I felt like we got one stolen from us last year, and to come back and get one this year is pretty good.”
Hughes started his journey to Victory Lane from the fourth position and wasted no time going forward, reaching the runner-up spot inside of the first five laps. Tyler Nicely, Feature #1 winner from Wednesday night, led the opening laps and looked to be the one to beat until an early caution flag stacked up the field with Hughes right on his tail.
The green flag waived and Nicely got a solid start, as did Hughes. They raced close for three corners before Nicely made a rare slip-up out of the groove in Turn 4, opening the door for Hughes down low to take the spot.
“[Nicely] got in there tight and shoved across the corner and I got turned underneath him, and that was what got us out front,” Hughes said.
Nicely, of Owensboro, KY, came back at Hughes to his inside just a few laps later but was unsuccessful. Hughes put it on cruise control after a few more restarts and took the checkered flag for his first time at Volusia, Nicely coming in right behind.
Steve Arpin, of Fort Frances, ON, bagged his first podium finish of the week and his first at DIRTcar Nationals since his championship year in 2007 with a third-place run Thursday night. Fellow Longhorn by Loenbro chassis driver Mike McKinney was scheduled to start third and was penalized to the tail for a late arrival to staging, but overcame the fault and made it all the way back up to eighth by the checkered flag.
Kyle Strickler went from the hospital, back to the track, from the Last Chance Showdown to the Feature and from 23rd to third in the Feature on Wednesday for one of the wildest nights in DIRTcar Nationals history. He backed that up Thursday night with his ninth career Feature win in the event, holding off longtime competitor Nick Hoffman in the process.
Fellow notable DIRTcar Nationals frontrunner David Stremme brought it home right behind them. Stremme, Hoffman and Strickler have become among the brightest faces of the UMP Modified division over the past few years, which Strickler made it a point to acknowledge in his Victory Lane interview on DIRTVision.
“These three cars here on the front-stretch here, we come down here and this Speedweeks means so much to us. We know who we’ve gotta outrun when we get here, and we all work really hard,” Strickler said.
Stremme kicked off the 20-lap Feature by jumping out to the lead in the opening laps, looking very strong and keeping Strickler and Hoffman at bay behind him. That was, until he hit lapped traffic.
Just past the halfway point, Stremme dove deep into a field of slower traffic, which gave Strickler and Hoffman the opportunity they needed to slip by. Which, they did, when Stremme got pinched a bit by a lapped car out of Turn 2 on Lap 13. Strickler got a great run out of the corner and drove firmly into Turns 3-4, sliding up in front of Stremme to complete the pass as they crossed the stripe.
“I was adjusting my driving style, and when we caught lapped traffic, it’s so tough when you’re the leader. So, that helped us out a bunch, and I think the track started coming our way too,” Strickler said.
Hoffman went with him one lap later to secure the second spot. A final restart appeared with 5 laps remaining but did not affect the running order; Strickler was just too smooth for anyone to catch.
The DIRTcar UMP Modified action continues Friday night at Volusia Speedway Park with one of the pit area’s favorite nights of the year – everybody runs a Feature! A total of five Feature races for the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds is preliminarily scheduled for competition, lined up by points totals after the already completed Features. Catch all the action on DIRTVision!
Strickler bags podium finish out of Last Chance Showdown after hospital visit just hours before
A grand total of 94 DIRTcar UMP Modifieds packed Volusia Speedway Park’s pit area Wednesday for night #2 of competition at the 50th DIRTcar Nationals, prompting a format change that called for two separate, 20-lap Features before the night was out.
Volusia’s reigning Reutimann Memorial winner Tyler Nicely, of Owensboro, KY, took advantage of another slick and smooth racing surface to grab the win in the first Feature, while the five-time and defending DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified champion Nick Hoffman, of Mooresville, NC, did the same to score the victory in Feature #2.
Feature #1 – Tyler Nicely
Tyler Nicely seems to be picking up right where he left off at Volusia last November.
His then-brand-new Longhorn by Loenbro chassis powered him to his first career victory in the track’s marquee event, the Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial, in November of last year. Less than three months have passed and he’s already back in Victory Lane. This time, making the pass for the lead on Lucas Lee and holding off another star-studded cast of competitors for his fourth career win in the event.
“All Speedweeks I’ve been trying to get this win; I’m glad it’s on this stage at Volusia,” Nicely said. “It’s always nice to win it with a bunch of cars, standing on this stage and getting a gator.”
Nicely’s been in action since the opening round of the Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park two weeks ago and hadn’t been able to find Victory Lane through those five starts plus another last weekend at North Florida Speedway. But after a third-place finish in Tuesday night’s opener, Nicely cashed out with his momentum and advanced two spots higher to collect the $1,000 victory Wednesday night.
Nicely started on the outside of the front row and immediately went to work on polesitter Lucas Lee, catching him in open track and making the pass to his inside on Lap 5.
From there on out, it Nicely’s race to lose. Nobody seemed to have anything for the race leader by the end of 20 circuits as he crossed to collect the checkers. However, if there had been just one more caution later in the race, he may have had a familiar foe knocking on his door.
Kyle Strickler, of Mooresville, NC, may have gone though one of the most bizarre, painful, yet most successful runs to the front in DIRTcar Nationals history Wednesday night.
Earlier in the evening, Strickler was taken in an ambulance to a nearby hospital after severely cutting his left middle finger in the pit area while operating the lift his team uses to raise their car up.
“When I was in the ambulance after almost cutting my finger off, they told me, ‘it’s a hard no on you racing tonight,’ because that was the first question I asked them,” Strickler said. “We ended up going to the hospital, getting it stitched up and making it back here in time.”
Indeed, he did get back to the track on time. But only to tag the tail of Last Chance Showdown #1, where he snagged the final transfer spot into the first Feature. This set him up for a 23rd-place starting spot in that event, where he drove all the way back to finish third, making for what will surely be one of the most memorable nights of his career.
Nick Hoffman has often preferred the slicker, slower racing surfaces at the big tracks like Volusia. That certainly showed again Wednesday night, as he took full advantage of it in collecting his 19th career DIRTcar Nationals Feature win.
Compared to the Feature event previous, Hoffman wasted even less time in moving to the front, making the pass on polesitter David Stremme on Lap 3. From there on out, nobody had anything for the two-time and defending UMP Modified national points champion as he crossed the stripe for the win.
He makes it look so simple on the DIRTVision cameras, but sometimes, much of the battle is won before the race even starts in the pit area. Like Tuesday night, it came down to a tire selection to help Hoffman pick up the win.
“I knew it was probably gonna latch-up there in the second Feature, so I went with the hard tire again tonight,” Hoffman said. “Once it started to latch-up, I got really tight and just couldn’t maneuver quite like I needed to.”
Hoffman’s Elite Chassis had yet another good showing with himself and Justin Allgaier finishing 1st and 3rd, respectively.
“I know every nook and cranny on that racecar, so that really helps. Just running my own chassis for the last eight years; we’ve got a really good balance, obviously, at this place. It just suits my style, momentum racing, and when it gets dead slick like this, it’s really where I’m the best,” Hoffman said.
The DIRTcar UMP Modified action continues Thursday night from Volusia Speedway Park’s 50th DIRTcar Nationals with Round #3 of racing. Catch all the action live on DIRTVision!
Spalding pleased with runner-up after leading most, Arpin sixth in return to Volusia
There was just no stopping the five-time and defending DIRTcar Nationals champion Tuesday night.
Nick Hoffman scribed yet another chapter in his big book of DIRTcar UMP Modified dominance at Volusia Speedway Park with his 18th Feature win in event history, making the pass on eventual runner-up Curt Spalding in the second half of the race after a restart to claim victory.
Chilly temperatures and a smooth, slick racing surface made for ideal track conditions for the two-time and defending DIRTcar UMP Modified national points champion to race on.
“Normally I suck earlier in the week here. It’s normally pretty fast and I’m just not as good in that condition. For it to be this slick already this early in the week, hats off to the track prep crew. It’s way easier on equipment and makes our week a hell of a lot easier when the track is slower,” Hoffman said.
Volusia’s track surface was just recently redone, which presented each driver with a new element to take into account as they selected tire compounds for the 20-lap Feature.
“I just went harder on tire than them guys around me, so that definitely paid off by the end of the race,” Hoffman said. “My cars just work way better on a harder tire, so it was kind of a no-brainer for me.”
Hoffman, of Mooresville, NC, put those tires to the test almost immediately, taking second from his fourth-place starting spot in just five laps. Spalding, of Watervliet, MI, had jumped to the lead from the outside pole and had a decent gap on Hoffman in the opening circuits, until Hoffman turned on the jets and closed the gap to just a car-length as they approached halfway.
A caution flag on Lap 9 reset the field gave Spalding his first test on the restart, which he solidly passed by keeping Hoffman at bay behind him, but only for a few more times around. Another yellow on Lap 13 put Hoffman right behind him once more, and Spalding knew what was coming.
“I knew he was gonna banzai me,” Spalding said. “I was pretty good in [Turns] 3 and 4, and he had to get me passed in 1 and 2, and I knew it.”
Hoffman got a tremendous run to Spalding’s outside as they took the green on the restart, then blasted off again out of Turn 2 to complete the pass as they raced down the backstretch.
“I was able to roll down the hill and get the momentum on the front-straightaway, and I was actually just riding at [Spalding’s] quarter-panel, running at about quarter-throttle so that way, when he peeled-off to run the bottom, I could just gas-up and drive back by him,” Hoffman said.
Spalding was able to maintain second through the checkered flag while Hoffman cruised to the victory by almost five seconds. Despite giving up the lead in the second half, he was very pleased with his performance.
“We’re very happy,” Spalding said. “To unload with this caliber of cars and get the job done, we’re pretty happy.”
Tyler Nicely, of Owensboro, KY, crossed the line in third after a strong drive from fifth. The most recent Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial winner found a hot rod early in the week with his new Longhorn by Loenbro chassis, as did fellow Loenbro pilot Steve Arpin, who placed sixth in his first race back in his own car at Volusia since 2008.
Polesitter David Stremme crossed the stripe in fourth after slipping back in the first half, but his Lethal Chassis cars looked strong, especially with fellow Lethal racer Spalding going runner-up.
The DIRTcar UMP Modified action continues from the 50th DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park Wednesday night with another 20-lap, $1,000-to-win program in race #2 of 7 for the division. Catch all the action live on DIRTVision!
“Dirt racing in Florida is going to be bigger and better than ever at the start of 2022,” said Brian Carter, World of Outlaws and DIRTcar CEO. “Demonstrating our commitment to our fans and drivers, we’ve coordinated with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series so there is no overlap of events, allowing fans to enjoy the best Late Model drivers in the world battle throughout Florida on a weekly basis from January to February.
“Then, that will lead into the always action-packed DIRTcar Nationals at the beginning of February where the best Sprint Car, Late Model, Modified and Big Block drivers will compete for the must-have golden gator trophies.”
The 2021 Sunshine Nationals set a high bar for the World of Outlaws Late Model season, producing two eye-widening events and a first-time winner. And this year’s 50th DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 2-13, has again attracted the top race car drivers in the world, including two-time defending World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion Brad Sweet , Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, Kenny Wallace, three-time defending World of Outlaws Late Model champion Brandon Sheppard and 2019 Super DIRTcar Series champion Mat Williamson.
Tickets for this year’s 50th DIRTcar Nationals are available now at VolusiaSpeedwayPark.com. Ticket’s for 2022’s Sunshine Nationals and DIRTcar Nationals will be available there at a later date.
When the stout field rolls into Volusia Speedway Park Feb. 2-8 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the event, one hand will point to the division’s future stars while the other reaches back on the history books. Some of the division’s most exciting points chases and storylines have been produced over the past 15 years, featuring a slew of instantly recognizable names.
The 2007 DIRTcar Nationals was headlined with the success of one young Canadian, who ushered in a new level of dominance not previously seen in DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified history. Twenty-three-year-old Steve Arpin, of Fort Frances, ON, brought his Larry Shaw Race Cars #00 into the facility and made his mark on history, winning an incredible five consecutive Features in seven nights to earn his first DIRTcar Nationals championship. It seemed as though Arpin would hold this record forever, until one man sparked a legacy of his own the following year.
When Arpin was seriously injured at Volusia in February 2008, the door swung open for another driver to step up to the plate. Jared Landers, of Batesville, AR, won two Features that year, setting him up for a memorable run in 2009 where he won five non-consecutive Features over seven nights of racing, tying Arpin’s record and crowning him DIRTcar Nationals champion for the first time in his career.
The next four years didn’t see quite the level of dominance brought on by Arpin and Landers but was made up for with a diverse group of Feature winners and champions.
Present-day Late Model veteran Dave Hess Jr., of Waterford, PA, won two Features en route to his Golden Eagle trophy in 2010, one year before Emporia, KS’s own Clint Bowyer led the charge of NASCAR-driven success at the event.
Bowyer won three Features on his way to a Golden Eagle in 2011, paving the way for fellow Richard Childress Racing teammates Ty and Austin Dillon’s three newly styled Big Gator championship trophies, collected from 2012-2015. The brothers won a combined 12 DIRTcar Nationals Features over that period, missing out on only the 2013 points championship to another NASCAR legend, Kenny Schrader.
While Austin hoisted his first Big Gator in 2015 with Ty finishing just 10 points behind in third, one driver stood between them in the points that year.
Belleville, IL-born Nick Hoffman, now residing in Mooresville, NC, has since been the one man to beat when it comes to the UMP Modifieds at the DIRTcar Nationals. He and his blue/orange Elite Chassis #2 have been tearing up Volusia in February for the past five years, winning 13 Features and five consecutive Big Gator trophies from 2016-2020.
Armed with his second consecutive DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals championship and DIRTcar UMP Modified national championship honors that 2020 brought him, 2021 is looking brighter than ever for the reigning Big Gator champion to repeat at Volusia.
Of course, several big-name contenders in the division will be gunning for their right to hoist the Big Gator trophy as well, including former NASCAR stars David Stremme, Kenny Wallace and 2020 Reutimann Memorial winner Tyler Nicely.
Tickets for the 50th annual DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, Feb. 2-13, are on sale now at DIRTcarNationals.com. If you can’t make it to the track, be sure to tune into DIRTVision to watch all the action live from the comfort of your home!
Previous UMP Modified Feature Winners February 10, 2020 – Spencer Hughes
February 9, 2020 – Kyle Strickler
February 8, 2020 – Nick Hoffman
February 7, 2020 – Curt Spalding, Jason Beaulieu, Christian Thomas, David Reutimann
February 6, 2020 – Nick Hoffman
February 5, 2020 – Kyle Strickler
February 4, 2020 – Michael Long
February 11th, 2019 — Kyle Strickler
February 11th, 2019 — Kyle Strickler
February 11th, 2019 —Lucas Lee
February 8th, 2019 — R.C. Whitwell, Justin Haley, Gordy Gundaker, Brandon Green, Jesse Rupe
February 7th, 2019 — Nick Hoffman
February 6th, 2019 — Taylor Cook
February 5th, 2019 — Michael Long
February 11th, 2018 — Kyle Strickler
February 10th, 2018 — Tyler Nicely
February 9th, 2018 — Kyle Strickler, Tyler Nicely, Frank Paladino, Larry Mott
February 8th, 2018 — Nick Hoffman
February 7th, 2018 — Nick Hoffman
February 6th, 2018 — David Stremme
February 21st, 2017 — Jacob Hawkins, Jonathan Taylor, J.E. Stalder
February 20th, 2017 — Nick Hoffman
February 19th, 2017 — Nick Hoffman
February 19th, 2017 — Will Krup
February 17th, 2017 — Nick Hoffman
February 16th, 2017 — Brian Ruhlman
February 15th, 2017 — Nick Hoffman
February 14th, 2017 — Jacob Hawkins
February 16th, 2016 — Derrick Ramey, Justin Allgaier, Ray Bollinger
February 15th, 2016 — Nick Hoffman
February 14th, 2016 — Brian Ruhlman
February 13th, 2016 — Nick Hoffman
February 12th, 2016 — Trent Young
February 11th, 2016 — Tyler Nicely
February 10th, 2016 — Nick Hoffman
February 9th, 2016 — Nick Hoffman
February 16th, 2015 — Austin Dillon
February 15th, 2015 — Austin Dillon
February 14th, 2015 — Nick Hoffman
February 13th, 2015 — Ty Dillon
February 12th, 2015 — David Stremme
February 11th, 2015 — Kyle Strickler
February 10th, 2015 — Austin Dillon
February 18th, 2014 — Ty Dillon
February 18th, 2014 — Joel Ortberg
February 17th, 2014 — Ty Dillon
February 16th, 2014 — Austin Dillon
February 15th, 2014 — Ty Dillon
February 14th, 2014 — Ty Dillon
February 13th, 2014 — Kyle Bronson
February 11th, 2014 — Kyle Strickler
February 19th, 2013 — Ty Dillon
February 19th, 2013 — Jacob Poel
February 19th, 2013 — Jason Zimmer
February 18th, 2013 — Ken Schrader
February 17th, 2013 — Matt Westfall
February 16th, 2013 — Jacob Poel
February 15th, 2013 — Nick Hoffman
February 12th, 2013 — Rodney Sanders
February 21st, 2012 — Austin Dillon
February 21st, 2012 — Mike Wedelstadt
February 21st, 2012 — Tyler Carpenter
February 20th, 2012 — Nick Hoffman
February 19th, 2012 — Kenny Wallace
February 18th, 2012 — Chad Kinder
February 17th, 2012 — Ty Dillon
February 16th, 2012 — Kenny Wallace
February 15th, 2012 — Kenny Wallace
February 14th, 2012 — Dale Mathison
February 15th, 2011 — Ty Dillon
February 15th, 2011 — Kenny Schrader
February 15th, 2011 — Austin Dillon
February 14th, 2011 — Ty Dillon
February 13th, 2011 — Clint Bowyer
February 12th, 2011 — Richie Tosh
February 11th, 2011 — Ryan Gustin
February 10th, 2011 — Clint Bowyer
February 9th, 2011 — Clint Bowyer
February 8th, 2011 — Austin Dillon
February 8th, 2010 — Jared Landers
February 7th, 2010 — Austin Dillon
February 6th, 2010 — Dave Hess, Jr.
February 4th, 2010 — David McWilliams
February 3rd, 2010 — Dave Hess, Jr.
February 10th, 2009 — Austin Dillon
February 9th, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 8th, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 7th, 2009 — Randy Hall
February 6th, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 5th, 2009 — Austin Dillon
February 4th, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 3rd, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 11th, 2008 — Dave Groves
February 10th, 2008 — Tim Hancock
February 9th, 2008 — Dave Hess, Jr.
February 8th, 2008 — Jared Landers
February 7th, 2008 — Jared Landers
February 6th, 2008 — Scott Drake
February 5th, 2008 — Jesse Stovall
February 12th, 2007 — Joey Kramer
February 11th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 10th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 9th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 8th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 7th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 6th, 2007 — Kenny Wallace
February 12th, 2006 – Joey Kramer
February 10th, 2006 – Duke Whiseant
February 9th, 2006 – Duke Whiseant
February 8th, 2006 – Chad Ohnsted
February 7th, 2006 – Craig Thatcher
February 6th, 2006 – Blake Jetvig
February 14th, 2005 – Joey Kramer
February 13th, 2005 – Craig Thatcher
February 12th, 2005 – Joey Kramer
February 11th, 2005 – Joey Kramer
February 10th, 2005 – Craig Thatcher
February 9th, 2005 – Steve Arpin
Nicely’s Longhorn by Loenbro Chassis wins in first weekend out, Elite Chassis finish 2-3
BARBERVILLE, FL – Nov. 21, 2020 – When Tyler Nicely and his team loaded up after their testing session earlier this week, he knew he had a car he could take to Volusia Speedway Park and contend for his first Reutimann Memorial Feature victory.
Not only did Nicely, of Owensboro, KY, and his new Longhorn by Loenbro Chassis score the victory in the 7th annual Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial, he showed consistent strength in the new car throughout the weekend. Setting fast time and winning his Showdown Feature on Friday night set him up for a spot in the redraw on Saturday, where he took full advantage of his forward starting spot, leading 30 total laps en route to the $5,000 payday.
“I didn’t want to lose the race and I was going to do everything I could to win it,” Nicely said in Victory Lane. “I knew I just needed to get out in clean air and just dictate my own race. I knew we had a pretty good car early; I just knew I needed to make a smart move early to get to the lead.”
Starting from position #4 on the grid, Nicely showed speed right out of the gate, chasing down NASCAR standout Justin Allgaier, of Riverton, IL, and leader Devin Dixon, of Apollo Beach, FL, inside the first 10 laps. After an early caution, Nicely made the move around Allgaier for second and cracked the whip, gunning for leader Dixon’s rear bumper.
As Dixon worked his way around a slower car out of Turn 4 to complete Lap 21, he got a bit too wide out of the groove and the door opened for Nicely to his inside. Nicely threw it hard into Turn 1, slid up the track and took the lead away.
Dixon came back at him with a slide job of his own a few laps later, but the non-existent cushion up top threw him wide once again as Nicely drove back by. Dixon was able to grab the lead back briefly on Lap 27 after Nicely slipped high in Turn 2, but lost it again as Nicely threw a big slide job on he and Allgaier on a restart just one lap later.
Then came the opening Allgaier had been waiting for. Nicely slipped way high again in Turn 1 on Lap 35 as Allgaier jumped through the open door. Nicely recovered quickly though, throwing yet another slider for the lead as they came back around to Turn 1.
“We got the lead there and then Tyler slid me down in [Turn] 1,” Allgaier said. “I didn’t know if he was going to make 1 and 2 or not, so I jumped out of it. I wish, in hindsight, I’d have stayed in it.”
Allgaier’s presence out front seemed to spark a fire under Nicely’s seat. He dropped the hammer on the high side and never relinquished the lead again, fending off Allgaier and fellow Elite Chassis pilot Nick Hoffman’s surge for the front in the final laps.
Hoffman, the five-time DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified champion at Volusia, took a shot at Allgaier with five-to-go for the runner-up spot, but was unable to hold the car down in Turn 1 and gave the spot right back as he washed-up the track.
“Justin had a way better racecar, so once he showed me a nose, I just let him go back by; the only shot for Elite Chassis to win tonight,” Hoffman said.
The Elite cars brought the heat after one final restart in the home stretch but couldn’t get a big enough run in either groove to threaten for the lead. Nicely was too fast on the top side and brought the field back around to the checkers to score his first career Reutimann Memorial victory.
“I kinda liked getting that caution with six to go, just because that took the lapped cars out of it; that’s how I got passed for the lead when we got into lapped traffic,” Nicely said.
Allgaier crossed the stripe in second – now his best career finish in the event. He was the only driver that kept it inside the podium for all 50 laps, despite his feelings on how the race began for him.
“In the beginning there, I struggled to get a line that really worked for me. Once we figured that out, I was able to make up some time,” Allgaier said.
Hoffman rounded out the podium in third, crossing by a slim margin over Justin Haley and Austin Holcombe. His newly-built Elite Chassis was quite the hot rod in the latter half of the race, but ultimately came up one spot shy of tying his personal best finish in the event (second, 2018).
“At the middle of the race, I kinda got my motor too hot and kinda cruised for a little bit; I wanted to cruise anyway. Once it was time to go, I was able to cool it down and really hustle,” Hoffman said.
Twenty drivers now locked into Saturday’s 50-lap, $5,000-to-win main event
BARBERVILLE, FL – Nov. 20, 2020 – Fifty-two of the best DIRTcar UMP Modified drivers in the country assembled at the Volusia Speedway Park Friday night for the preliminary night of action at the 7th annual Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial. Twenty names have since punched their ticket into Saturday’s $5,000-to-win main event.
Four 15-lap Showdown Features hit the track after two groups of Qualifying, locking the top-five finishers into Saturday’s Feature and taking the top-two into the redraw.
Showdown Feature #1 – Justin Allgaier
He hasn’t been able to drive his Federated Auto Parts #7 Elite Chassis as much as he would have liked to in 2020, but Justin Allgaier looked as if he had been in the car all season Friday night with a flag-to-flag victory in the first Showdown Feature.
Grabbing the lead into Turn 1 from the outside pole on the opening lap, Allgaier fought off all challengers from behind, including his chassis builder and 2020 DIRTcar UMP Modified national champion Nick Hoffman, for the $500 victory.
Hoffman held on for second, sending both he and Allgaier to the redraw. Also transferring into the Feature were Austin Holcombe, David Stremme and Chris Arnold.
Allgaier’s been steadily working on his dirt program recently and said he feels very comfortable with the car and the crew working tirelessly behind him. Hoffman’s been in his car for most of the season and has provided both he and Allgaier with a great opportunity to pick up the big $5,000 victory Saturday night.
“Well, tomorrow’s 50 laps, tonight was only 15,” Allgaier said of his outlook to Saturday. “I’ve got to not make a mistake. There’s a lot of guys tonight that got caught-out by the track conditions in Qualifying. The conditions tonight suited my driving style really well. But if it gets slick tomorrow, which I think it will, Nick’s [Hoffman] gonna be incredible. I know it.”
Through the first half of the second Showdown Feature, it appeared as though the event’s Best Appearing Car Award winner Rich Dawson was going to drive away flawlessly for the win. But Apollo Beach, FL’s Devin Dixon had other plans.
Dawson won the battle into Turn 1 on the opening lap, but Dixon never let him out of sight. A restart five laps in gave Dixon the opportunity he needed to make the move, which he did to Dawson’s inside in Turn 1 after furiously reeling him in lap-by-lap.
“Once we got going there, [Dawson] took off pretty good and then he started fading a little bit the later the race went, and we started getting better. Down there into [Turn] 1, he jumped the cushion a little bit and I just slid him, and it was on from there,” Dixon said.
From that point forward, Dixon set it on cruise and was never challenged for the lead again as he drove across the stripe, punching his ticket to the redraw with runner-up Dawson. Steve Stevenson, Ryan Ayers and Rich Pratt also transferred to the 50-lap Feature.
For the first weekend out in a brand-new car, Tyler Nicley’s certainly gotten off to a great start.
After laying down the night’s fastest lap in Qualifying of 18.740, a $250 cash prize courtesy of the Reutimann family, Nicely grabbed the lead from the pole of the third Showdown Feature and never once even thought about giving it up. The Owensboro, KY-native led every single lap en route to the redraw and $500 prize with runner-up Maverick Varnadore.
Even when he proved a green-white-checkered finish could not throw him off of his game, at the end of the day, Nicely was still looking for more speed.
“We weren’t as good as we wanted to be in that Feature,” Nicely said. “Just tried to get the car to work well on the bottom and rotating. Tomorrow night will be different, 50 laps. Hopefully the track slows down a lot and we get a good redraw.”
Also transferring into the 50-lap Feature was two-time event winner David Reutimann, Troy Johnson and Seth Geary.
The 2017 Reutimann Memorial Feature winner had absolutely no problem putting himself in position to win it a second time Friday night. Jeff Mathews did just that with a flag-to-flag victory in the fourth and final Showdown Feature.
Mathews took the lead at the drop of the green and never looked back, leading every lap en route to the $500 victory and a spot in the redraw with runner-up Garrett Stewart.
Even the restarts Mathews faced along the way could not slow his momentum. But he knows Saturday is the big one, and he’ll have to be extra prepared to be there at the end of 50 laps.
“We didn’t really know which direction we wanted to go, if we wanted to be getting tighter or freeing-up, or trying to stay neutral,” Mathews said of his car setup. “I think we made the right call, but tomorrow’s a whole different ball game. We’ve got 50 laps, and I don’t think we’ll have this type of racetrack tomorrow night.”
Justin Haley, Travis Vanadore and Buzzie Reutimann also transferred into the Feature. Reutimann, the 79-year-old racing legend from Zephyrhills, FL, was perhaps the biggest star of the entire show when he was spun sideways about halfway through the race, gathered it back in on the restart and hung on to the fifth and final transfer spot to punch his ticket into the big show.
The Reutimann Memorial action continues Saturday evening for the DIRTcar UMP the Modifieds, beginning with the redraw, Last Chance events and closing with the 50-lap, $5,000-to-win Feature. Catch all the action LIVE on DIRTVision!