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MODIFIED MASTERY: Strickler Jumps from Late Model into Modified, Wins Bristol Bash Finale

Strickler emerges victorious in Bristol Victory Lane (Josh James Photo)

Hammer scores back-to-back runner-up finishes, Arnold recovers from Friday to finish third

Most drivers would agree – driving just one car around Bristol Motor Speedway in a day is hard enough. Kyle Strickler drove two on Sunday afternoon and came out $10,000 richer.

Strickler, of Mooresville, NC, jumped out of his PCC Motorsports Late Model after competing with the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series, immediately strapped into his Longhorn by Loenbro #8 UMP Modified and flat-out dominated the Feature, leading all 20 laps of the World of Outlaws Bristol Bash finale.

“The Modified is so much fun to me. After having a rough weekend with the Late Model, it was very refreshing to have a bunch of fun in the Modified,” Strickler said.

While it was a trying weekend for him in the Late Model, his Modified program was far more set up to his liking. This, and his familiarity in the seat of the Modified significantly helped him in the Feature.

“The Late Model side of it is so finnicky and all of your adjustments are fine-tuned and so touchy,” Strickler said. “The Modifieds – you’re going so much slower; they slip and slide around and there’s so much less grip that they don’t dart around as much.”

In short, Strickler ran a flawless race. None of his competitors had any strong challenges for him, even on a Lap 4 restart after a caution that took Friday night’s Feature winner, David Stremme, and Dave Wietholder out of the race when they collided in Turn 4.

Wietholder (05, left) collects Stremme (35), taking both drivers out of the race (Josh James Photo)

With outside polesitter Kyle Hammer keeping him in-sight behind him, Strickler reached the rear of the field with only a handful of laps remaining. After mainly running the preferred low groove to that point, The Highside Tickler put his nicknamesake on full display and maneuvered around the slower traffic.

“I could rip the top in the Late Model, and I tried it there at the end in the Modified and it really helped me get through lapped traffic,” Strickler said.

Strickler’s always preferred the bigger, faster tracks. With several UMP Modified victories in his career at other high-profile half-miles at Volusia Speedway Park and Eldora Speedway, it comes as no surprise he excelled in the high speeds of Bristol.

“I think a lot of it is just me liking these big racetracks, and just all fun, no stress, jump in the Modified and have a blast,” Strickler said. “Your finishes are usually directly related to your mood or how you’re feeling about one car or the other.”

Despite his best efforts, Hammer was unable to catch Strickler in the final laps.

Strickler in Victory Lane (Josh James Photo)

“Down the straightaways I could kinda see him just getting closer and closer each time,” Hammer said. “Toward the middle, once we got opened up and our tires really kicked in, I feel like we had a better car, just couldn’t do much at that point.”

However, Hammer did take home the honors of the highest average-finishing driver with two runner-up results on the weekend. Overall, a great showing for the young Illinoisan.

Chris Arnold crossed the stripe in third, completing an up-and-down weekend for he and his crew. Starting third in Friday’s Feature, Arnold caught a piece of a wreck heading into Turn 1 on the first lap and was forced to retire. But a great run Sunday showed exactly what the Virginian team is capable of.

“I think we had one of the fastest cars like [Hammer] and Strickler all weekend,” Arnold said. “I think [Friday] night, we would’ve been pretty good. I wish I had moved up to the top from Lap 1 and I think both of us probably would have been right there with Strickler.”

Like Hammer, Arnold agreed once Strickler got out front, the chances of catching and passing him were slim.

“You’ve got to use every type of advantage you have against him, and at this point, it would have been going to the top sooner than he did,” Arnold said.

Hammer (45) notched his second runner-up finish of the weekend on Sunday, coming in behind Strickler (8) (Josh James Photo)

Six drivers recorded top-10 finishes in both Features over the weekend – Kyle Hammer, Ryan Ayers, Nick Hoffman, Dylan Woodling, Trent Young and David Reutimann. Hoffman, the two-time and defending national UMP Modified champion, came back from a broken rocker arm in Qualifying Sunday, qualifying fo the Feature through his Heat Race to finish 7th.

The World of Outlaws and DIRTcar Racing action from Bristol Motor Speedway isn’t over just yet – don’t miss the World of Outlaws Bristol Throwdown, April 22-24, featuring the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series and Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds.

If you can’t be at the track, catch all the action live on DIRTVision presented by Drydene.

Feature (20 Laps) 1. 8-Kyle Strickler [1][$10,000]; 2. 45-Kyle Hammer [2][$5,000]; 3. 99W-Chris Arnold [3][$3,000]; 4. 6A-Ryan Ayers [5][$2,500]; 5. OOD-David Reutimann [6][$2,000]; 6. 3W-Dylan Woodling [7][$1,700]; 7. 2-Nick Hoffman [14][$1,500]; 8. 10Y-Trent Young [8][$1,200]; 9. 8S-Kyle Steffans [11][$1,100]; 10. 21A-Nick Allen [9][$1,000]; 11. 72-Todd Neiheiser [12][$1,000]; 12. 29J-Jordan Wever [18][$1,000]; 13. 67-Garret Stewart [13][$1,000]; 14. 1S-Brian Shaw [16][$1,000]; 15. 95-Michael Altobelli [21][$1,000]; 16. 45S-Nick Stroupe [20][$1,000]; 17. 97-Mitch Thomas [22][$1,000]; 18. 8A-Austin Holcombe [17][$1,000]; 19. 5-Jonathan Taylor [24][$1,000]; 20. 11-Troy Loomis [23][$1,000]; 21. 44-KC Burdette [15][$1,000]; 22. 2ND-Jake Leitzman [19][$1,000]; 23. O5-Dave Wietholder [4][$1,000]; 24. 35-David Stremme [10][$1,000] Hard Charger: 2-Nick Hoffman[+7]

Qualifying Flight-A 1. 8-Kyle Strickler, 18.055; 2. 6A-Ryan Ayers, 18.181; 3. 3W-Dylan Woodling, 18.298; 4. O5-Dave Wietholder, 18.511; 5. 21A-Nick Allen, 18.573; 6. 8S-Kyle Steffans, 18.646; 7. 67-Garret Stewart, 18.776; 8. 44-KC Burdette, 18.952; 9. 97-Mitch Thomas, 19.014; 10. 5-Jonathan Taylor, 19.061; 11. 8A-Austin Holcombe, 19.067; 12. 2ND-Jake Leitzman, 19.169; 13. 17N-Dillon Nusbaum, 19.394; 14. 84-Ryan Toole, 19.492; 15. 55-Jason Sage, 19.639

Qualifying Flight-B 1. 35-David Stremme, 18.327; 2. 45-Kyle Hammer, 18.434; 3. 99W-Chris Arnold, 18.525; 4. OOD-David Reutimann, 18.528; 5. 10Y-Trent Young, 18.55; 6. 11-Troy Loomis, 18.613; 7. 29J-Jordan Wever, 18.7; 8. 72-Todd Neiheiser, 18.736; 9. 95-Michael Altobelli, 18.812; 10. 45S-Nick Stroupe, 18.85; 11. 2-Nick Hoffman, 18.919; 12. 48-Lance Grady, 19.181; 13. 7-Evan Taylor, 19.242; 14. 1S-Brian Shaw, 19.309; 15. 4G-Bill Griffith, 20.052

Heat #1 – Flight (A) (8 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer 1. 8-Kyle Strickler [1]; 2. 3W-Dylan Woodling [2]; 3. 21A-Nick Allen [3]; 4. 67-Garret Stewart [4]; 5. 8A-Austin Holcombe [6]; 6. 97-Mitch Thomas [5]; 7. 17N-Dillon Nusbaum [7]; 8. 55-Jason Sage [8]

Heat #2 – Flight (A) (8 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer 1. O5-Dave Wietholder [2]; 2. 6A-Ryan Ayers [1]; 3. 8S-Kyle Steffans [3]; 4. 44-KC Burdette [4]; 5. 2ND-Jake Leitzman [6]; 6. 5-Jonathan Taylor [5]; 7. 84-Ryan Toole [7]

Heat #3 – Flight (B) (8 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer 1. 99W-Chris Arnold [2]; 2. 10Y-Trent Young [3]; 3. 35-David Stremme [1]; 4. 2-Nick Hoffman [6]; 5. 29J-Jordan Wever [4]; 6. 95-Michael Altobelli [5]; 7. 7-Evan Taylor [7]; 8. 4G-Bill Griffith [8]

Heat #4 – Flight (B) (8 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer 1. 45-Kyle Hammer [1]; 2. OOD-David Reutimann [2]; 3. 72-Todd Neiheiser [4]; 4. 1S-Brian Shaw [7]; 5. 45S-Nick Stroupe [5]; 6. 11-Troy Loomis [3]; 7. 48-Lance Grady [6]

Last Chance Showdown 1 (10 Laps) – Top 4 Transfer 1. 95-Michael Altobelli [2][-]; 2. 97-Mitch Thomas [1][-]; 3. 11-Troy Loomis [4][-]; 4. 5-Jonathan Taylor [3][]; 5. 7-Evan Taylor [6][$200]; 6. 17N-Dillon Nusbaum [5][$200]; 7. 48-Lance Grady [8][$200]; 8. 4G-Bill Griffith [10][$200]; 9. 84-Ryan Toole [7][$200]; 10. 55-Jason Sage [9][$200]

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