TAMPA, FL – Three races into Drake Troutman’s DIRTcar UMP Modified tenure with Jerry Foster Racing, and it’s already paying dividends.
Troutman, the 17-year-old racer from Hyndman, PA, claimed victory on the opening night of UMP Modified Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park with a clean sweep of the evening – turning the fastest lap of 59 cars in Qualifying, winning his Heat Race and the 25-lap Feature.
“I couldn’t be more happy with the way things are going,” Troutman said. “What a way to start off with a bang. Confidence is up, and we’ve just got to keep on working and make sure that things stay perfect.”
After several seasons behind the wheel of his family-owned UMP Modified operation, Troutman partnered with Maryland racer and car owner Jerry Foster for the 2023 season and set out on their first racing venture on the Florida Speedweeks trail. Back-to-back top-five finishes in their first two races at North Florida Speedway last Saturday-Sunday were great confidence boosters right out of the gate and have placed them atop the Speedweeks points standings with the win Tuesday night.
A win in Heat Race #2 gave Troutman the pole for the Feature after the redraw, which he wasted little time in using to his advantage. Outside polesitter Tyler Nicely grabbed the lead at the drop of the green and led the first seven circuits around the 1/3-mile oval before Troutman cashed-in on his opportunity.
With momentum from a great run out of Turn 2, Troutman shot down the backstretch and into Turn 3 with a head of steam and swung it down low, putting a big slide job on Nicely through Turn 4 to take the lead.
“With these guys, you never know – it could be your last shot to try something,” Troutman said. “I just figured I could go for it there; I knew I could clear [Nicely]. He and I race together a lot. These guys are all class acts.”
Now in command of the field, and the pace, Troutman cranked up that pace immensely, riding the high side and stretching out to a comfortable lead in traffic. The lapped cars gave him no issues either, clearing each that stood in his way with ease. By the checkered, Troutman had led 18 laps and amassed a gap of over three seconds to second-place Buzzy Adams, claiming his third career East Bay Winternationals victory.
Adams, who started fourth, was able to get around Nicely on Lap 14 for second before setting out on a chase through traffic to catch Troutman. Try as he may, however, Adams was unable to make up the gap, despite his speed on the high side.
“I thought we were getting good at the end, but Drake was so far gone that there was no catching him,” Adams said. “We had a rough start to this Speedweeks journey, and we’re just happy to get a good finish after working our butts off for the last couple days.”
Adams and his crew from Cameron, WI, worked feverishly since the weekend to prepare their car for Tuesday after suffering engine issues in the Feature at North Florida on Saturday. They dropped in a new power plant and were solid right from the jump, but came up a bit short in the end. Still, Adams was pleased with the runner-up spot.
“Honestly, a restart maybe would have made it fun,” Adams said. “But [Troutman] was really good. He took off good and he ended good. He was just better than us tonight, so we’ll go back to work and try and get another good finish.”
Allen Weisser drove from sixth to complete the podium with a last-lap pass on Ray Bollinger, who came home fourth. Ohioan Brian Skaggs advanced from his P8 starting spot to complete the top-five.
The UMP Modified Winternationals action continues at East Bay Raceway Park on Wednesday, Feb. 1. Tickets are available at the gate. If you can’t be at the track, Follow DIRTcar Racing on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for live updates throughout the program.
A Feature 1 (25 Laps): 1. 5-Drake Troutman; 2. 40-Kevin Adams; 3. 25W-Allen Weisser; 4. 77-Ray Bollinger; 5. 20-Brian Skaggs; 6. 25N-Tyler Nicely; 7. 12-Lucas Lee; 8. 69B-Bryan Bernhardt; 9. 24-Zeke McKenzie; 10. 2-Devin Dixon; 11. 21-Devin McLeod; 12. 25A-Jason Altiers; 13. 33W-Rodney Wing; 14. 99-Blake Brown; 15. 8L-Jimmy Lennex; 16. 44-Jeff Parsons; 17. 90-Tim Gay; 18. 21S-Denny Schwartz; 19. 205-Travis Varnadore; 20. 18C-Miles Cook II; 21. 2A-Matt Altiers; 22. 25-LJ Grimm; 23. 1S-Brian Shaw; 24. 17-Chris Wilson