HomeRace Track NewsFloridaLeach, Krup, McKenzie, Nicely, Stremme, Taylor Win Gator Qualifiers at Volusia

Leach, Krup, McKenzie, Nicely, Stremme, Taylor Win Gator Qualifiers at Volusia

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FRIDAY WINNERS: Leach, Krup, McKenzie, Nicely, Stremme, Taylor Win Gator Qualifiers at Volusia

BARBERVILLE, FL (Feb. 9, 2024) – In the final pack of six Features for the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds at Volusia Speedway Park Friday night, 18 drivers had their tickets punched into Saturday’s 30-lap, $5,000-to-win Gator Championship Feature.

Leading the charge was Michael Leach, Will Krup, Zeke McKenzie, Tyler Nicely, David Stremme and Jonathan Taylor, who claimed victory in the 20-lappers and secured a spot with the runners-up into the top-12 redraw. Third-place finishers also transferred into the main event.

Feature #1 – Michael Leach

Year two of racing DIRTcar Nationals and already Michael Leach has bagged his first gator trophy.

The 20-year-old from Sun River, MT, began his week with three-straight finishes no worse than sixth and could see that first win was coming soon. He made that vision a reality Friday night, leading all 20 laps of the first Feature of the program unchallenged, holding off Tim Ward and Curt Spalding for the win.

“We had a really good week at East Bay last week; I knew it was just a matter of time [at Volusia],” Leach said. “We were struggling at the beginning of the week and couldn’t quite get it done, but happy to say we’ve got it done now.”

Feature 1 (20 Laps): 1. 09-Michael Leach[1]; 2. 4TW-Tim Ward[2]; 3. 5CS-Curt Spalding[5]; 4. 57-Charlie Sandercock[7]; 5. 18K-Brandon Kinzer[9]; 6. 7-Justin Allgaier[10]; 7. 7B-Brad Deyoung[8]; 8. 11W-James Whittredge[15]; 9. 4K-Jason Kinney[13]; 10. 3L-Austin Leamon[17]; 11. 95J-Justin Cullum[14]; 12. 12M-John McClure[4]; 13. 58F-Donnie Farlling[12]; 14. 12-Robert Gast[6]; 15. 90H-Raymond Kable[3]; 16. 00B-Buzzie Reutimann[16]; 17. 8A-Austin Holcombe[11]

Feature #2 – Will Krup

After suffering misfortune while leading on Wednesday and Thursday, Will Krup and the Willy’s Carb and Dyno, Elite/Mullins No. K9 held together like glue for their second Feature win of the week Friday night.

“I feel like we’ve got a good piece, I just needed a little bit of luck,” Krup said.

Krup, of Mt. Carmel, IL, began his week with a Victory Lane trip on Monday and a third-place run on Tuesday. But after the car slipped out of gear leading the Wednesday Feature and a blown right-rear tire leading Thursday, Krup was becoming wary it would happen again Friday.

“Just like the night before, we had a caution there and I don’t know where I ran it over or whatever, but when we went back green, I could just tell the tire was going down,” Krup said of his tire issue during Thursday’s main event. “That was going through my mind there.”

In the end, Krup and his car were strong, holding off DIRTcar Nationals points leader Dustin Sorensen and Mike McKinney for all 20 laps to bag his fourth career gator trophy.

Feature 2 (20 Laps): 1. K9-Will Krup[1]; 2. 19-Dustin Sorensen[2]; 3. 96M-Mike McKinney[4]; 4. 90-Jason Beaulieu[7]; 5. 10Y-Trent Young[5]; 6. 8W-Gregory Moore[11]; 7. 13-Charlie Mefford[3]; 8. 21C-Drew Charlson[9]; 9. 1SS-Steve Stevenson[17]; 10. 07-Eric Moon[14]; 11. 16C-John Clippinger[6]; 12. 4-Mike Learman[8]; 13. 7G-Seth Geary[13]; 14. 6ST-Joseph Thomas[15]; 15. 25B-Greg Belyea[12]; 16. 21B-Hunter Breland[10]; 17. 0-Dylan Murray[16]

Feature #3 – Zeke McKenzie

For the past several years, Zeke McKenzie has made the trip to Florida from his home in Claypool, IN, to start his season at DIRTcar Nationals with the dream of one day taking home a coveted gator trophy.

On Friday night, he finally got one, leading all but one lap of Feature #3 to score the win from the pole and transfer into Saturday’s Gator Championship Feature.

He was heavily pressured for the top spot early on by Kyle Strickler, who twice got by McKenzie for the lead but was forced to give the spot back both times on account of a couple untimely caution flags.

Even when Illinois regional standout Trevor Neville put a slide-job on him to take the lead on Lap 7, McKenzie never flinched, taking the lead back from him one lap later and going on to collect the checkered flag.

“We’ve been working real hard on our Vanquish Race Cars,” McKenzie said. “We’ve had a lot of help from everybody; Ray [Bollinger’s] helped a lot, Kyle’s helped a lot – just finding the right group of guys to help you is key, and I think we’ve got there.”

Feature 3 (20 Laps): 1. 24-Zeke McKenzie[1]; 2. 11X-Tom Berry Jr[4]; 3. 8S-Kyle Strickler[3]; 4. 6-Ryan Ayers[7]; 5. 777-Trevor Neville[2]; 6. 54-Zachary Hawk[10]; 7. 32-Chad Roush[13]; 8. 28B-Jason Brookover[5]; 9. 5B-Bobby Bagley[15]; 10. 01-Brayden Weller[16]; 11. 51-Dalton Lanich[9]; 12. 2J-Troy Johnson[14]; 13. 40-Ronald Wadforth[12]; 14. 8-Dave Pinkerton[11]; 15. 17C-Coleman Evans[6]; 16. 4S-Craig Shaw[8]; 17. 66-Joshua Kunstbeck[17]

Feature #4 – Tyler Nicely

Tyler Nicely’s display of dominance continued Friday night with his fourth Feature win of the week.

Once again, the defending UMP Modified national champion from Owensboro, KY, put on a clinic, leading all 20 laps unchallenged for his 11th career DIRTcar Nationals Feature win. His fourth gator trophy of the week makes him the fifth UMP Modified driver in DIRTcar Nationals history to win four or more Features in one week.

On Saturday, Nicely will meet his greatest challenge yet. Never has he won the coveted Gator Championship, and it’s been his number-one goal since the week began. He won’t know where he’s starting until after the top-12 redraw, but he knows he’ll have to be up front in the end to have a shot at the $5,000 grand prize.

“We’ll be alright,” Nicely said. “Got this under our belt. We’ll just get a good redraw tomorrow and see what we can do.”

Feature 4 (20 Laps): 1. 25-Tyler Nicely[1]; 2. 18L-Michael Long[5]; 3. 97-Mitch Thomas[7]; 4. 49-Brian Ruhlman[4]; 5. 9-Ken Schrader[6]; 6. 114-Jordan Koehler[2]; 7. 26-Ryan Gierke[13]; 8. 82-Gary Dillon[8]; 9. 7T-Evan Taylor[12]; 10. 11N-Gene Nicholas[15]; 11. 99-Cole Hilton[10]; 12. 3D-Makayla Tyrrell[14]; 13. 33-Kenny Mihalik[17]; 14. 88-Matt Crafton[3]; 15. 55-Alyssa Rowe[16]; 16. 7D-TJ DeHaven[11]; 17. 1S-Brian Shaw[9]

Feature #5 – David Stremme

Score two for the Lethal Chassis house car this week – David Stremme is back in DIRTcar Nationals Victory Lane.

The 46-year-old chassis builder and company owner dominated Feature #5, leading all 20 laps. Though he’s pleased to be locked into Saturday’s main event, Stremme was also excited to see several of the Lethal-brand drivers also qualifying for the finale.

“Bringing Tom [Berry Jr.] on board – he’s been in our cars; getting him in a UMP car has helped – we’re all just gathering information,” Stremme said. “George Dixon – I hate it for him because he was probably going to get in no problem. We’ve got Tyler [Evans] and Jonathan [Taylor] in, [Curt] Spalding is in… but the big one is what counts.”

Feature 5 (20 Laps): 1. 35-David Stremme[1]; 2. 12L-Lucas Lee[2]; 3. 95-Michael Altobelli[6]; 4. 77-Ray Bollinger[4]; 5. 114B-Clayton Bryant[3]; 6. 11M-Michael McGee[13]; 7. 21CZ-Cole Czarneski[8]; 8. 2T-Ty Norder[10]; 9. 3-Josh Sanford[11]; 10. 60-Shannon Fisk[5]; 11. 6B-Dave Baldwin[14]; 12. 57M-Fletcher Mason[15]; 13. 36-Kenny Wallace[17]; 14. 27G-Jason Garver[12]; 15. 463-Daniel Sanchez[9]; 16. 2G-Troy Girolamo[16]; 17. 27-Michael Turner[7]

Feature #6 – Jonathan Taylor

Two nights in-a-row, Jonathan Taylor is a DIRTcar Nationals Feature winner.

The Pennsylvania racer inherited the lead on Lap 5 when fellow Lethal Chassis driver George Dixon collided with a car nearly stopped in Turns 3-4 while leading the race. Once Dixon was towed off on the hook, Taylor was given the lead as the former second-place car and led the field back to green.

From there, it was smooth sailing for Taylor as he led every lap from that point to collect his fourth career gator trophy – one night after getting his third.

“It’s been an adventure,” Taylor said of his week at Volusia. “We’ve changed some stuff, we’ve gone back to some stuff… it helps that we have both cars, my brother and I. We get to bounce stuff off of each other and learn a little bit here-and-there and see what works and what doesn’t.”

Feature 6 (20 Laps): 1. 5-Jonathan Taylor[4]; 2. 17T-Tyler Evans[9]; 3. 17N-Dillon Nusbaum[6]; 4. 1-Randy Giroux[5]; 5. 23Z-Austin Self[3]; 6. 91-Chris Beaulieu[1]; 7. 0S-Glenn Styres[7]; 8. 3F-Rob Fuqua[8]; 9. 78-Raymond Rogers[14]; 10. 07K-Curtis King[13]; 11. 23-Ryan Toole[17]; 12. 72-Todd Neiheiser[10]; 13. 43A-Mark Anderson[12]; 14. 18-Miles Beaulieu[16]; 15. 77D-George Dixon[2]; 16. E85-Jesse Strange[15]; 17. 21-Scott Ladner[11]

UP NEXT

The DIRTcar UMP Modifieds close-out their portion of the 53rd Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park with the Gator Championship on Saturday, Feb. 10. Cars that did not transfer into the main event on Friday will line up for Heats and Last Chance races to fill the rest of the field before the 30-lap, $5,000-to-win main event goes green.

Tickets and information are available at DIRTcarNationals.com. If you can’t be at the track, stream every lap live on DIRTVision.

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