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DIRTcar UMP Modifieds

Michael Leach Goes Back-to-Back Friday at East Bay for Second Career Winternationals Win

Tyler Carr Photo

It took Michael Leach over a year to get his first career DIRTcar UMP Modified win, but only 24 hours to win his second.

The 20-year-old racer from Sun River, MT, passed for the lead with five-to-go in Thursday’s main event for the win and did it again in similar fashion Friday night – getting around race-long leader Kyle Strickler with four laps left and driving off with his second Winternationals Feature win in two nights at East Bay Raceway Park.

Leach, a fellow pilot of Longhorn Chassis, knows of the accomplishments that make up the careers of the veterans of the sport like Strickler and was overjoyed to not only race with Strickler, but to drive around him for the win at the historic Tampa oval.

“That’s the crazy thing about it – on every restart I’m like, ‘Man, I’m following Kyle Strickler around East Bay right now at the Winternationals, this is like one of the craziest [things],’” Leach said. “I’ve never been in a position like that.

“By far, these last two nights are the biggest wins of my career, and to do it against a guy like Kyle tonight is just extraordinary.”

Leach celebrating with Longhorn Chassis crew chief Cameron Cobb in Victory Lane (Tyler Carr Photo)

Unlike his charge from 14th to the win the night prior, Leach took the green flag from fifth on the grid after a Heat Race win and immediately moved to third in the opening laps.

While Strickler was in command from the pole out front, Leach had made the move around outside polesitter Jason Garver to take second and began stalking Strickler as the race approached halfway.

Several caution flags dotted the midway portion of the 30-lap main event, providing Leach with ample opportunities to get a run to the inside of Strickler on the restarts. But the 39-year-old veteran held strong and forced Leach to think about other means of trying to make the move.

“It definitely was a thought in my mind, for sure, especially when [Strickler] wasn’t screwing up for the longest time,” Leach said. “If those cautions wouldn’t have come out, I for sure would have went to the top.”

After swapping the runner-up spot with two-time Winternationals champion Rodney Wing in the closing laps, Leach had P2 back for the final restart with six laps left. He cleared Wing when he stumbled on the top through Turns 1-2 and made a beeline for Strickler’s rear bumper.

They crossed the flag stand less than a half-second apart, and when Leach launched off of Turn 2 on the bottom, Strickler could not muster the speed he needed to keep the spot as Leach got underneath going through Turn 3 and secured the lead out of Turn 4.

Leach (09) making the move on Strickler (8) for the lead (Tyler Carr Photo)

“It was just a matter of waiting on a mistake, that’s all it took,” Leach said. “We followed him for probably over 20 laps. I knew it was gonna happen eventually, even with a guy like Strickler on a track like this.

“It just took the one time and I just happened to be in a position to take it over.”

“I should’ve just stayed in that middle,” Strickler said. “I went to the top trying to protect and Michael drove underneath me.”

From there, Leach drove away and led the rest of the way unchallenged to bag the $1,500 grand prize.

Though he came up one spot short, Strickler was still in good spirits afterwards, considering how his week started with three-straight DNFs.

“I’m happy that we finished two nights in-a-row, because it’s been a disaster the first couple nights here,” he said. “It’s cool for [Leach] to win; he did a hell of a job last night and tonight, and it’s great for Longhorn to be one-and-two. But tomorrow’s the big night.”


The final edition of UMP Modified Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park arrives at the grand finale Saturday night, Feb. 3. The top-six drivers in event points will be locked into the 75-lap, $5,000-to-win main event, while all other entrants will be seeded by points into Heat Races, followed by Last Chance Showdowns and the Feature.

Tickets will be available for purchase at the gate. If you can’t be at the track to watch in person, follow along on X (formerly Twitter)Facebook and Instagram for live updates.


A Feature 1 (30 Laps): 1. 09-Michael Leach[5]; 2. 8S-Kyle Strickler[1]; 3. 99J-Treb Jacoby[3]; 4. 33W-Rodney Wing[6]; 5. 21CZ-Cole Czarneski[15]; 6. 12L-Lucas Lee[7]; 7. 26G-Ryan Gierke[13]; 8. 205-Travis Varnadore[23]; 9. 24-Zeke McKenzie[22]; 10. B69-Bryan Bernhardt[14]; 11. 0-Damian Kiefer[20]; 12. 20-Brian Skaggs[8]; 13. 33-Jeff Mathews[18]; 14. 2-Devin Dixon[19]; 15. 8A-Austin Holcombe[11]; 16. 1H-Ben Harmon[17]; 17. 18C-Miles Cook II[24]; 18. 64-Austin Sanders[21]; 19. 88-David Pollen[9]; 20. 9-Cory Balkey[10]; 21. 82-Gary Dillon[16]; 22. 27G-Jason Garver[2]; 23. M20-Mike Potosky[12]; 24. 11R-Jeremy Rayburn[4]

B Feature 1 (12 Laps): 1. 1H-Ben Harmon[3]; 2. 64-Austin Sanders[4]; 3. 25W-Allen Weisser[5]; 4. 6ST-Joseph Thomas[1]; 5. 05-Dave Wietholder[13]; 6. 14C-Rick Conoyer[2]; 7. 4SA-Kevin DeYoung[14]; 8. 10X-Billy Uptegraff[12]; 9. 9A-Austin O’Dell[10]; 10. 75R-Jason Russell[8]; 11. 5-Bobby Bagley[7]; 12. 19A-Thomas Sigler[11]; 13. 72-Todd Neiheiser[9]; 14. (DNS) 95-Michael Altobelli

B Feature 2 (12 Laps): 1. 33-Jeff Mathews[1]; 2. 24-Zeke McKenzie[3]; 3. 7-Brad Deyoung[2]; 4. 14M-Mavrick Varnadore[10]; 5. 90-Tim Gay[5]; 6. 8C-Corey Bevard[4]; 7. 64M-Tim McCafferty[6]; 8. 81-Jeremy Owens[9]; 9. 23B-Scott Bane[8]; 10. 119-Josh Sigler[11]; 11. (DNS) 43J-Jacob Hall; 12. (DNS) S21-Seth Daniels; 13. (DNS) 11-Tyler Morehouse

B Feature 3 (12 Laps): 1. 2-Devin Dixon[6]; 2. 205-Travis Varnadore[8]; 3. 17-Chris Wilson[4]; 4. 23Z-Austin Self[1]; 5. 3F-Rob Fuqua[10]; 6. 16H-Justin Hart[5]; 7. E85-Jesse Strange[9]; 8. 87Z-George Zieman[7]; 9. A85-Brandon Hutchinson[3]; 10. (DNS) 27T-Michael Turner; 11. (DNS) 1W-Brian Wilburn; 12. (DNS) 101-Hunter Feltner

B Feature 4 (12 Laps): 1. 0-Damian Kiefer[2]; 2. 18C-Miles Cook II[5]; 3. 25-Josh Lolmaugh[11]; 4. 14-Skyler Douglas[4]; 5. 0L-Mason Love[8]; 6. 333-Wade Rookard[7]; 7. 54H-Zachary Hawk[6]; 8. 6B-Dave Baldwin[9]; 9. 8-Jimmy Lennex[3]; 10. 77-Ray Bollinger[1]; 11. 77C-Jason Cox[10]; 12. (DNS) 16C-John Clippinger

Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 8S-Kyle Strickler[1]; 2. 88-David Pollen[2]; 3. 6ST-Joseph Thomas[4]; 4. 1H-Ben Harmon[3]; 5. 25W-Allen Weisser[6]; 6. 5-Bobby Bagley[8]; 7. 72-Todd Neiheiser[7]; 8. 19A-Thomas Sigler[9]; 9. 05-Dave Wietholder[5]

Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 27G-Jason Garver[2]; 2. 9-Cory Balkey[1]; 3. 14C-Rick Conoyer[3]; 4. 64-Austin Sanders[6]; 5. 95-Michael Altobelli[4]; 6. 75R-Jason Russell[7]; 7. 9A-Austin O’Dell[8]; 8. 10X-Billy Uptegraff[5]; 9. 4SA-Kevin DeYoung[9]

Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 99J-Treb Jacoby[1]; 2. 8A-Austin Holcombe[2]; 3. 33-Jeff Mathews[3]; 4. 24-Zeke McKenzie[4]; 5. 90-Tim Gay[5]; 6. 43J-Jacob Hall[7]; 7. 81-Jeremy Owens[6]; 8. 119-Josh Sigler[9]; 9. 11-Tyler Morehouse[8]

Heat 4 (8 Laps): 1. 11R-Jeremy Rayburn[2]; 2. M20-Mike Potosky[3]; 3. 7-Brad Deyoung[4]; 4. 8C-Corey Bevard[5]; 5. 64M-Tim McCafferty[7]; 6. 23B-Scott Bane[6]; 7. 14M-Mavrick Varnadore[1]; 8. (DNS) S21-Seth Daniels

Heat 5 (8 Laps): 1. 09-Michael Leach[1]; 2. 26G-Ryan Gierke[2]; 3. 23Z-Austin Self[3]; 4. A85-Brandon Hutchinson[5]; 5. 16H-Justin Hart[7]; 6. 87Z-George Zieman[6]; 7. E85-Jesse Strange[4]; 8. (DNS) 1W-Brian Wilburn

Heat 6 (8 Laps): 1. 33W-Rodney Wing[1]; 2. B69-Bryan Bernhardt[2]; 3. 27T-Michael Turner[3]; 4. 17-Chris Wilson[4]; 5. 2-Devin Dixon[5]; 6. 205-Travis Varnadore[6]; 7. 3F-Rob Fuqua[8]; 8. 101-Hunter Feltner[7]

Heat 7 (8 Laps): 1. 12L-Lucas Lee[2]; 2. 21CZ-Cole Czarneski[1]; 3. 77-Ray Bollinger[4]; 4. 8-Jimmy Lennex[5]; 5. 18C-Miles Cook II[3]; 6. 333-Wade Rookard[7]; 7. 6B-Dave Baldwin[6]; 8. 25-Josh Lolmaugh[8]

Heat 8 (8 Laps): 1. 20-Brian Skaggs[2]; 2. 82-Gary Dillon[1]; 3. 0-Damian Kiefer[4]; 4. 14-Skyler Douglas[5]; 5. 54H-Zachary Hawk[7]; 6. 0L-Mason Love[6]; 7. 77C-Jason Cox[8]; 8. 16C-John Clippinger[3]

Qualifying 1: 1. 8S-Kyle Strickler, 00:16.588[2]; 2. 88-David Pollen, 00:16.900[6]; 3. 1H-Ben Harmon, 00:17.442[4]; 4. 6ST-Joseph Thomas, 00:17.522[3]; 5. 05-Dave Wietholder, 00:17.593[7]; 6. 25W-Allen Weisser, 00:17.620[1]; 7. 72-Todd Neiheiser, 00:17.848[9]; 8. 5-Bobby Bagley, 00:19.084[8]; 9. 19A-Thomas Sigler, 00:19.639[5]

Qualifying 2: 1. 9-Cory Balkey, 00:17.210[3]; 2. 27G-Jason Garver, 00:17.270[7]; 3. 14C-Rick Conoyer, 00:17.347[2]; 4. 95-Michael Altobelli, 00:17.550[6]; 5. 10X-Billy Uptegraff, 00:17.618[8]; 6. 64-Austin Sanders, 00:17.646[4]; 7. 75R-Jason Russell, 00:17.697[5]; 8. 9A-Austin O’Dell, 00:18.255[1]; 9. 4SA-Kevin DeYoung, 00:18.691[9]

Qualifying 3: 1. 99J-Treb Jacoby, 00:16.631[2]; 2. 8A-Austin Holcombe, 00:16.797[9]; 3. 33-Jeff Mathews, 00:17.058[7]; 4. 24-Zeke McKenzie, 00:17.058[5]; 5. 90-Tim Gay, 00:17.702[4]; 6. 81-Jeremy Owens, 00:17.830[1]; 7. 43J-Jacob Hall, 00:17.922[6]; 8. 11-Tyler Morehouse, 00:18.142[8]; 9. (DNS) 119-Josh Sigler

Qualifying 4: 1. 14M-Mavrick Varnadore, 00:17.094[3]; 2. 11R-Jeremy Rayburn, 00:17.223[7]; 3. M20-Mike Potosky, 00:17.224[4]; 4. 7-Brad Deyoung, 00:17.413[2]; 5. 8C-Corey Bevard, 00:17.658[5]; 6. 23B-Scott Bane, 00:18.231[6]; 7. 64M-Tim McCafferty, 00:19.791[8]; 8. (DNS) S21-Seth Daniels

Qualifying 5: 1. 09-Michael Leach, 00:16.331[8]; 2. 26G-Ryan Gierke, 00:17.229[5]; 3. 23Z-Austin Self, 00:17.352[2]; 4. E85-Jesse Strange, 00:17.469[4]; 5. A85-Brandon Hutchinson, 00:17.562[6]; 6. 87Z-George Zieman, 00:17.790[3]; 7. 16H-Justin Hart, 00:17.960[1]; 8. 1W-Brian Wilburn, 00:18.649[7]

Qualifying 6: 1. 33W-Rodney Wing, 00:16.276[7]; 2. B69-Bryan Bernhardt, 00:16.340[5]; 3. 27T-Michael Turner, 00:16.704[6]; 4. 17-Chris Wilson, 00:16.924[1]; 5. 2-Devin Dixon, 00:17.128[2]; 6. 205-Travis Varnadore, 00:17.244[3]; 7. 101-Hunter Feltner, 00:17.253[4]; 8. 3F-Rob Fuqua, 00:17.357[8]

Qualifying 7: 1. 21CZ-Cole Czarneski, 00:16.570[3]; 2. 12L-Lucas Lee, 00:16.671[6]; 3. 18C-Miles Cook II, 00:16.926[1]; 4. 77-Ray Bollinger, 00:17.152[2]; 5. 8-Jimmy Lennex, 00:17.273[5]; 6. 6B-Dave Baldwin, 00:17.455[8]; 7. 333-Wade Rookard, 00:17.681[7]; 8. 25-Josh Lolmaugh, 00:17.893[4]

Qualifying 8: 1. 82-Gary Dillon, 00:16.615[8]; 2. 20-Brian Skaggs, 00:16.827[7]; 3. 16C-John Clippinger, 00:16.955[4]; 4. 0-Damian Kiefer, 00:17.363[6]; 5. 14-Skyler Douglas, 00:17.757[5]; 6. 0L-Mason Love, 00:17.843[3]; 7. 54H-Zachary Hawk, 00:18.269[2]; 8. 77C-Jason Cox, 00:18.446[1]

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