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Strickler tickles USMTS winners circle in King of America VIII opener

HUMBOLDT, Kan–The USMTS Hunt for the Casey’s Cup was back in action Thursday to kick off the King of America VIII Modified Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment at the Humboldt Speedway with 78 cars and drivers signed in for battle.

Polesitter Jason Krohn led the field to the green flag and paced the first of 40 laps, but North Carolina’s Kyle Strickler drove underneath the 2007 USMTS national champion to take control the second time around before the yellow flag waved for the first time with four laps in the books.

On the restart, Strickler pulled away from Krohn while Darron Fuqua pulled into third and began to challenge for the second spot.

With Strickler comfortably out front and lapped traffic approaching, 2012 King of America champ Stormy Scott came to a stop in turn two to bring out the race’s second caution flag.

Fuqua was able to sneak by Krohn back under green and applied pressure to the rear bumper of Strickler while Dereck Ramirez and R.C. Whitwell completed a five-car breakaway from the rest of the pack.

Kyle Strickler (8) fends off a challenge for the lead by Darron Fuqua during the 40-lap feature race.

Strickler continued to lead with Fuqua waiting for an opportunity to make a move. His chance came with four laps to go when the leaders reached the back of the field.

But Strickler quickly disposed of two lapped cars to pad his advantage, and then cruised the final lap to score his career-first USMTS feature win.

“The USMTS guys are so good, and this is one I’ve wanted for a long time,” a jubilant Strickler said in victory lane. “This ranks right up there with some of the biggest races we’ve won.

“I knew we had a really good race car. When they dropped the green flag, it was time to go. I just hope we can be there again Saturday for the big one.”

Strickler’s triumph was worth $2,500 while Fuqua matched his best USMTS finish with a runner-up paycheck. Krohn, Ramirez and Whitwell remained third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Jason Strand, Ricky Thornton Jr., 2014 King of America winner Rodney Sanders, last year’s Thursday night winner Mitch Keeter and Terry Phillips rounded out the top ten.

The King of America VIII Modified Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment continues Friday and Saturday. On Friday, each driver will compete in three heat races from three different starting positions.

Passing points will be combined for all three heats with the top 12 in overall points locked into Saturday’s “A” Main. The next dozen drivers will be locked into Saturday’s “B” Main, the next 12 into Saturday’s “C” Main and the remainder will run in Last Chance races on Saturday.

Saturday will feature an “alphabet soup” of features and last-chance races as drivers try to claw their way into a spot for the $10,000-to-win, $1,000-to-start finale.

New for this year will be a Non-Qualifiers Race for the top 30 drivers unable to transfer out of the qualifying features. All 30 drivers will redraw for starting position. This race will pay $1,000 to win and $1,000 for second. The top two finishers will have the option to keep the money or start the King of America main event which pays $1,000 to start. The Non-Qualifiers Race will pay a minimum $300 to start with a great payout all the way through.

The Iron Man Challenge featuring Out-Pace USRA B-Mods will run a complete show both nights, racing for $1,500 to win Friday and $1,000 to win Saturday. National points in the Summit USRA Weekly Racing Series will also be up for grabs.

Tickets on Friday are $20 while Saturday’s show is $25. Youth ages 6-12 get in for $5 on Friday and $10 on Saturday. Children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge both days.

Gates open at 5 p.m. with racing at 7:30 on Friday. Saturday’s start times are one hour earlier with the first green flag waving at 6:30.

Every lap of every race all three days will be broadcast live via pay-per-view at www.RacinDirt.com.

The Humboldt Speedway is a located 0.1 mile west of US 169 at the Humboldt Exit, then 0.5 mile south, then 0.9 mile east on Georgia Rd. For more information, call (620) 431-2470 or visit www.humboldtspeedway.com.

To learn more about the United States Modified Touring Series, visit www.usmts.com online or call 515-832-7944. You can also like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/usmts, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/usmts and Instagram at www.instagram.com/usmts or subscribe to our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/usmtstv. Keep up to speed with everything USMTS by joining our email list at www.usmts.com/subscribe.

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