Strickler recovers to win World of Outlaws run


By James Essex
Kyle Strickler recovered nicely from a poor start in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series DIRTcar Nationals opener Feb. 10 at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida, as he fought back to win his first race for the Craig and Shannon Sims/PCC Motorsports team based in Hope.

He fell from fourth to eighth in a lap but with an injured finger found a ledge to grab before his descent continued. On the next lap, he began his rise.

By Lap 5, he was seventh. By Lap 20, sixth. By Lap 23, fifth. By Lap 34, he found himself back inside the top four and challenging for a podium finish. Then with three laps to go, as the leader slowed to the wall, he reached the peak. Minutes later, the win was his — his second World of Outlaws victory in 12 starts, his second in a row and second in a row at Volusia. But it was his first in the PCC Motorsports car.

“We took that green, I went straight backward,” Strickler said. “I was like, ‘Man, we messed up and picked the wrong tire or made the wrong adjustment or something.’ Got to lap traffic there and all the leaders went to the top and the car really came to us. I said, ‘I’m not going to let a Modified guy beat me. I’m going to the front.’”

Bobby Pierce and Tim McCreadie — who each won a DIRTcar Late Model event to kick off Late Model week during the DIRTcar Nationals — started on the front row of the 40-lap feature. While Strickler fell on the opening lap, Pierce catapulted ahead of the 33-car field. McCreadie kept a tight hold on the runner-up position until a suspension failure took him out of the race four laps in.

The next 29 laps went caution-free, Pierce led, with Ricky Thornton. Jr. and Devin Moran close enough to be annoying the entire time. Thornton chased Pierce lap after lap, showing his nose multiple times through turns 3 and 4. But Pierce put his number 32 machine through a workout, sending it into each corner as hard as he could around the top, lifting the left side of his car off the ground at times to get the better momentum off the corner.

That lasted until Lap 12 when Thornton’s patient work paid off as he got the advantage on Pierce off turn 2. Pierce battled back, but soon found himself having fend off Moran for second.

Their battle came to a halt when Kyle Bronson suffered a flat tire and brought out a caution with seven laps to go. When it resumed, Moran tried a Hail Mary pass into Turn 1, going from third to first by the middle of the corner. His slide job made him look like a hero until the exit of turn 2 when Thornton split the middle between Moran — up top — and Pierce — on the bottom — to reclaim the lead.

At this point, Strickler had fought his way to fifth, slowly digging his fingers in the dirt and crawling back to the front.

Then, disaster struck when Moran had a driveshaft issue going down the front stretch and got rear-ended by Brandon Overton, ending both of their nights.

On the restart, the trapdoor that plagued Strickler found Thornton as he fell from first to fourth in a lap. Pierce reclaimed the lead while Strickler and Hudson O’Neal found themselves inside the podium, battling for second. With three laps to go,

Strickler passed O’Neal for second, just in time to watch Pierce slow with a flat tire. Strickler’s rise was complete. It wasn’t an easy climb, reminding himself how to drive a Late Model versus a UMP Modified — which he drove the previous week. But his exuberant celebration showed it was worth the effort.

“Man, I never would’ve thought I’d fall back to eighth and then charge to the front,” said Strickler, of Mooresville, North Carolina “Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. This is awesome.”

“This is one right now, of course, this is probably my favorite race of my career. That’s so much fun to go back and forth like that.”

O’Neal finished second with his own rise to the front from eighth.

“We were just a little too free there from the git-go,” O’Neal said. “I didn’t think I had a second-place race car. Just took advantage of some of the bad situations for the other guys.”

Thornton, after leading 23 laps, finished third.

“We were good. I wish that yellow didn’t come out,” Thornton said. “I don’t really have enough experience here to know what to do on the restart and let Bobby get by that one time. We’ll take a third and move on tomorrow.”

Defending Series champion Brandon Sheppard was on track to have his best showing of the year so far, with a potential podium run, but had an incident with Mike Norris and suffered a flat tire with two laps to go.

Indiana Late Model Series Releases 2021 Schedule

The “” Indiana Late Model Series has announced its 2021 schedule of events. The 2021 racing season will be the 13th year of ILMS racing for Pro Late Models and will feature one of the largest schedules of events in ILMS history. This year’s schedule features events at seven different Indiana racing facilities.

Brownstown Speedway remains the home track for the ILMS and will host a majority of the series races.

Familiar ILMS tracks, including Thunder Valley Raceway (Salem), Terre Haute Action Track (Terre Haute) and Scott County Fair (Scottsburg) will host events for 2021. A couple of tracks that the ILMS has visited in the past, Bloomington Speedway (Bloomington) and Paragon Speedway (Paragon), will once again host events this year.

Two new tracks to the ILMS have also been added for 2021. Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville will host their first ILMS event and Circle City Raceway, a brand-new track being constructed at the Marion County Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, is set to host two ILMS events.

Indiana Pro Late Model Series 2021 travel shows.

April 23 — Bloomington Speedway

May 2 — Terre Haute Action Track

May 7 — Paragon Speedway

June 5 — Lincoln Park Speedway

June 27 — Circle City Raceway

July 4- Scott County fair Speedway

July 18- Circle City Raceway

August 13- Thunder Valley Raceway

August 15 — Terre Haute Action Track

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