Story By: JORDAN DELUCIA / DIRTCAR – BARBERVILLE, FL – Ninety-five DIRTcar UMP Modifieds answered the bell for Round #2 of the 52nd Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park Tuesday night and brought three repeat winners from Monday back to Victory Lane, while three first-time winners headlined the second half of the program.
Feature #1 – Justin Haley
Less than 24 hours after scoring his second career DIRTcar Nationals gator trophy, Justin Haley bagged his third with a flag-to-flag victory in Tuesday’s opening UMP Modified Feature.
This one was slightly less dramatic than Monday’s, as Haley came in with a full night’s rest after going around 48 hours straight without sleeping on Sunday-Monday due to his NASCAR obligations in Los Angeles. Though the start to his day was different, the on-track results were the same, as Haley set Quick Time in Qualifying for the second-straight night and went unchallenged for the Feature win.
“Hats off to the whole #99 Darkhorse Racing team, it’s really been fun to come down here,” Haley said. “Matt Smith is crew chief-ing this thing this week. He’s been with me for a few years now. We’ve always come down here trying to win, and they just keep getting easier.”
Feature 1 (20 Laps): 1. 99-Justin Haley; 2. 145-Kyle Hammer; 3. 18L-Michael Long; 4. 21CZ-Benji LaCrosse; 5. 51-Dalton Lanich; 6. 0-Glenn Styres; 7. 57-Fletcher Mason; 8. 05-Dave Wietholder; 9. 777-Trevor Neville; 10. 00-Dylan Henkins; 11. 130-Chase Allen; 12. 8X-Cody Brightwell; 13. 9PG-Percy Gendreau; 14. 40R-Shawn Reiss; 15. 463-Daniel Sanchez; 16. 59-Doug Stine
Feature #2 – Tyler Nicely
Tyler Nicely once again showed his prowess around the half-mile of Volusia with his second consecutive flag-to-flag victory in two days. But this one had a bit of extra meaning behind it.
Two of Monday’s Feature winners ended up in his Feature, making it an interesting first half of the race as Nicely tried to run away from fellow frontrunners Lucas Lee and Kyle Strickler. He did so successfully, but not without a hefty challenge from Lee for the lead around the halfway point.
Lee eventually slipped up in traffic and tangled with a lapped car, sending them both around and into the outside wall. Lee was towed back to the pits with front-end damage, while Strickler was unable to catch Nicely in the end and settled for second.
“I knew that tonight, whenever we drew, that Group A was pretty stacked,” Nicely said. “All six Feature winners [from Monday night] were in Group A, and we ended up with three Feature winners from last night in ours.
“I just knew I couldn’t go out there and mess up; they were on my heels. Lucas was right there.”
Feature 2 (20 Laps): 1. 25-Tyler Nicely; 2. 8-Kyle Strickler; 3. 95-Michael Altobelli; 4. 11S-Jared Spalding; 5. 43A-Mark Anderson; 6. 90R-Raymond Kable; 7. 22K-Dale Kelley; 8. 7D-T J DeHaven; 9. 29-Steve Shellenberger; 10. 2A-Matt Altiers; 11. 1-Randy Giroux; 12. 77S-Jim Shipman; 13. 3-Josh Sanford; 14. 23B-Ethan Boomsma; 15. 12L-Lucas Lee; 16. 24D-Jesse Dill
Feature #3 – Ethan Dotson
Another day, another runaway victory for Ethan Dotson.
Dotson, the Longhorn Chassis UMP Modified house car driver from Bakersfield, CA, bagged his second career gator trophy by way of domination, leading every lap unchallenged and crossing the finish line with a two-second gap over runner-up David Stremme.
“I haven’t gotten into lapped traffic either night, and I’d like to get in just to see if I can move around,” Dotson said. “Hopefully, maybe tomorrow night we can, and we’ll go from there.”
Feature 3 (20 Laps): 1. 00E-Ethan Dotson; 2. 35-David Stremme; 3. 7-Evan Taylor; 4. 5CS-Curt Spalding; 5. 22TW-Tim Ward; 6. 09-Michael Leach; 7. 1S-Brian Shaw; 8. 99M-Mike Mullen; 9. 07-Curtis King; 10. 17-Rob Pitcher; 11. 33-Kenny Mihalik; 12. 4S-Craig Shaw; 13. 11Z-Zane Oedewaldt; 14. 7M-Steve Maughan; 15. 4M-Tim Monroe; 16. 21S-Kenny Shaw
Feature #4 – George Dixon
If there was an award given to the most enthusiastic roof dance of the week, George Dixon would certainly be in the running after his dominant performance in the fourth UMP Modified Feature.
Climbing atop his Lethal Chassis #77 in Volusia Victory Lane for the first time in his career, Dixon was ecstatic to claim his first gator trophy after making the long tow south from his home in Shirleysburg, PA. He did it in flag-to-flag style, holding off stout Florida local Clay Harris and 2021 Gator Championship winner Justin Allgaier.
“I just planned on coming down here and maybe running top-five in the Features, hopefully make it in the big show Saturday,” Dixon said. “To come down here, run second [on Monday], set fast time in my [Qualifying] group tonight and to win the Feature, it’s unbelievable for us.
“We’re just a small family team. We don’t have any big backing.”
Feature 4 (20 Laps): 1. 77-George Dixon; 2. 21J-Clay Harris; 3. 7A-Justin Allgaier; 4. 13-Charlie Mefford; 5. 114-Clayton Bryant; 6. 10Y-Trent Young; 7. 99G-Gavin Graham; 8. 3D-Makayla Tyrrell; 9. 34X-Shane O’Connor; 10. 7B-Brad Deyoung; 11. 22B-Austen Becerra; 12. 51G-Brandon Green; 13. 17T-Tyler Evans; 14. 16C-John Clippinger; 15. 25W-Allen Weisser; 16. 99W-Wade Olmsted
Feature #5 – Mitch Thomas
At 17 years old, Mitch Thomas is taking on a daunting task of racing against so many drivers with decades of experience at Volusia. But he rose to the occasion and put it in Victory Lane Tuesday night, passing two-time DIRTcar Nationals Feature winner Brian Ruhlman for the lead on Lap 14 and carrying the field across the line as one of three first-time event winners that night.
“It’s really exciting,” Thomas said. “We’ve tried down here for three years and we’ve struggled. There’s really good competition down here, so when you win a race here, it really means a lot.”
Thomas pilots a brand-new Elite Chassis, built by seven-time and reigning DIRTcar Nationals champion Nick Hoffman, who was working the stick signals for his Elite customers throughout the night.
“I tried getting up top, but I was driving way over my head,” Thomas said. “I was trying to tell myself to slow down and get to the bottom. I knew I would have a shot at winning it because this car is better at the bottom.”
“I was watching my [stick signal] guy, and he was telling me ‘get down, get down.’ I finally listened to him, and we reeled [Ruhlman] in and I really didn’t have a problem passing him.”
Feature 5 (20 Laps): 1. 97-Mitch Thomas; 2. 7G-Seth Geary; 3. 49-Brian Ruhlman; 4. 9-Ken Schrader; 5. 72X-Todd Neiheiser; 6. 60-Shannon Fisk; 7. 32-Chad Roush; 8. 56-Chris Wilson; 9. 24-Zeke McKenzie; 10. 21C-Taylor Cook; 11. 22-Doug Carson; 12. 12-Robert Gast; 13. 91B-Chris Beaulieu; 14. 22J-John Baker; 15. 00EH-Steve Arpin; 16. 00B-Buzzie Reutimann
Feature #6 – Drake Troutman
As one of two 17-year-olds to visit Victory Lane Tuesday night, Drake Troutman finally got himself a gator after a wire-to-wire victory in the final Feature of the night.
Troutman, of Hyndman, PA, drove the Jerry Foster Racing Longhorn Chassis #5 to meet his first career gator trophy in Volusia Victory Lane, two years after making his debut at the half-mile.
He settled for second on Monday night, coming in behind Ethan Dotson, whose gap at the checkers stretched nearly five seconds. Troutman took a page out of Dotson’s playbook for Tuesday, checking out in the Feature and crossing the stripe by over four seconds to bag the win.
“Ethan came over and gave us a hand today,” Trouman said. “I’ve definitely got a lot of respect for him and the help. It’s awesome to have him in my corner, and in this team’s corner.
“This car has been awesome. We really haven’t had to mess with it a whole lot; just small tweaks.”
Feature 6 (20 Laps): 1. 5T-Drake Troutman; 2. 88-Matt Crafton; 3. 8A-Austin Holcombe; 4. 4-Mike Learman; 5. 77B-Ray Bollinger; 6. 199-Travis Pastrana; 7. 90-Jason Beaulieu; 8. 6B-Dave Baldwin; 9. 17C-Coleman Evans; 10. 11-Jesse Rupe; 11. M20-Mike Potosky; 12. 35W-Ethan Weber; 13. 49G-Billy Green; 14. 07N-Adam Nayler; 15. 100-Dylan Murray; 16. 54-Zachary Hawk
The UMP Modified extravaganza at Volusia Speedway Park continues on day #3 of the 52nd Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals – Wednesday, Feb. 8 – racing alongside the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars.