UMP MODIFIED NOTES: A Week At Volusia Ahead

DIRTcar UMP Modified

DIRTcar-sanctioned UMP modifieds will race all week at Volusia Speedway Park this week. (Josh James photo)

BARBERVILLE, Fla. – The multi-week grind of DIRTcar UMP Modified Florida Speedweeks continues with a weeklong affair at Volusia Speedway Park from Feb. 5-10.

It’s the single toughest endurance test in all of open-wheel dirt modified racing – the 53rd Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals.

Over 100 UMP Modifieds are projected to chase nightly feature winner’s trophies and a starting spot in the 30-lap, $5,000-to-win Gator Championship feature on Saturday.

New for this year are the cash bonuses for the top three in the final DIRTcar Nationals points standings and a nightly purse increase, making all features run Monday-Friday $1,000-to-win and $125-to-start.

The revamped event format unveiled last year will outline this week’s modified happenings, consisting of six separate features on each of the first five nights of competition.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday’s features will be lined up by qualifying laps, while Thursday will set the field according to points accumulated by each driver over the previous three nights. Friday’s field will be split in half for Gator Qualifier Night before Saturday’s Gator Championship.

The driver with the most points at week’s end will be crowned the DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator champion and hoist the iconic Big Gator trophy.

Drivers will also be earning points toward the UMP Modified Florida Speedweeks championship chase, which crowns its champion after the conclusion of Saturday’s feature.

Below are multiple storylines to watch throughout the week at Volusia:

Kenny Wallace Returns

– He took one year off, but Kenny Wallace admits it. He just “can’t stay away” from DIRTcar Nationals.

This year, Wallace – the four-time DIRTcar Nationals feature winner from Arnold, Mo. – returns to Volusia to compete in the UMP modified division for the first time since 2022, piloting a car fielded by the only seven-time Big Gator champion, Nick Hoffman.

Wallace was last a winner at DIRTcar Nationals in 2012, when he nearly clinched the Big Gator points championship but was forced to miss the final race of the week due to his NASCAR obligations in Daytona.

Now, he’ll have his best chance since to go for another gator trophy behind the wheel of the Hoffman-prepared, JEGS-sponsored Elite Chassis No. 36.

Hoffman is the winningest UMP Modified driver in DIRTcar Nationals history with 23 feature victories, including his first in 2012.

He will serve as Wallace’s crew chief throughout the week, wrenching on the ride he built and owns in addition to providing support for several of his other Elite Chassis customers in the pits.

Strickler Ready For Big Gator Defense

– After years of suffering defeat at the hands of his closest rivals, Kyle Strickler finally hoisted the Big Gator points championship for the first time in his career last year and will return to defend it this week.

Strickler, the 39-year-old from Mooresville, N.C., clinched the weeklong championship on the back of three feature wins, including the prestigious Gator Championship finale, which earned him his first of two Big Gator trophies that week.

He and the Melanie Motorsports, Longhorn Chassis No. 8 are coming off a solid ending to a week of racing in Tampa at East Bay Raceway Park, compiling three-straight top-five finishes, including a runner-up in the Winternationals Championship Feature.

He and the team have good reason to believe they’ll be contenders again at Volusia this year as their historical records shine bright.

Strickler has amassed 12 feature wins in DIRTcar Nationals competition – including three Gator Championship Feature wins – and ranks second on the all-time wins list behind Hoffman.

Nicely (Not) Done

– Tyler Nicely comes into DIRTcar Nationals as the reigning national DIRTcar UMP Modified points champion after a stout weekly racing season last year, complete with a nation-high 24 feature wins from January to October.

Included in those 24 wins were five UMP Modified Florida Speedweeks wins – one at North Florida Speedway, his first career Winternationals win at East Bay, and three-straight at Volusia during the DIRTcar Nationals.

Despite his success at the half-mile last year, Nicely ended up third in the event points standings after a third-place finish in the Gator Championship race.

Twenty-eight-year-old Nicely, from Owensboro, Ky., will have his Elite Chassis No. 25 ready to go in search of his first career Big Gator win this week. He currently sits tied for sixth on the all-time DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified feature wins list with seven.

Lee Looking For More

– Following a strong first week out on the Speedweeks trail, defending UMP Modified Florida Speedweeks champion Lucas Lee will head on to Volusia this week, shooting for his first Big Gator trophy.

Lee, a 36-year-old native of Paris, Tenn., has raced at the DIRTcar Nationals several times before, but has been admittedly disappointed with his overall results, having won only two features at Volusia in his career.

However, he had a personal best DIRTcar Nationals last year, finishing sixth in event points after a runner-up finish in the Gator Championship feature.

Lee captured his third career UMP Modified Winternationals Championship feature win at East Bay Saturday night and expanded his Speedweeks points lead to 17 over Cole Czarneski, making him the early favorite to win the Speedweeks points chase. It which would be Lee’s third-straight after clinching the honors in 2022 and 2023.

Wisconsin’s Finest

– Completely unknown to the DIRTcar UMP Modified world until last week, 18-year-old Czarneski has taken the Speedweeks trail by storm. He bagged a win and three podium finishes at East Bay and now heads to Volusia for his DIRTcar Nationals debut in pursuit of the points championship.

The young Wisconsin driver has been cutting his teeth in the Sport Mod and Stock Car divisions back home for the past four years and recently took the step up to a full-size Modified.

Piloting his brightly colored Pro 1 Property Services, Elite/Mullins No. 21cz, Czarneski comes into Volusia firing on all cylinders, ready to take on one of the largest and deepest fields of competition he’ll see all year.

Czarneski is coming off five-straight top-five finishes, including a win, in his first week out at East Bay.

For his efforts, he now sits second in Speedweeks points – 17 back of Lee – and will also meet Volusia for the first time this week.

Little Gator Hunting A Big Gator

– Every February, Justin Allgaier comes to Volusia to compete with the UMP Modifieds at DIRTcar Nationals before his NASCAR duties in Daytona – driving for JR Motorsports – and will return to the half-mile track again this week searching for more little (and big) gator gold.

The 37-year-old NASCAR Xfinity Series star from Riverton, Ill., has had success at Volusia in the past, bagging his first career gator trophy in 2016. His next came on the big stage, scoring a marquee victory in the Gator Championship Feature in 2021 to claim his first Big Gator trophy.

Allgaier went back to Victory Lane in the event one year later in one of the 11 UMP Modified features run in a single day in 2022.

Allgaier returns to the seat of his Federated Auto Parts, Elite Chassis No. 7 this week looking for his fourth career DIRTcar Nationals win, representing the heap of NASCAR names that annually compete in the division including Wallace, David Stremme, Ken Schrader, Matt Crafton, and Austin Wayne Self, among others.

Watch Live

For those unable to be at the racetrack, every lap of the Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals can be streamed live through DIRTvision.

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