MORGANTOWN, KY – With just five laps left, deep in lapped traffic and two fierce competitors closing the gap behind him, Will Krup knew it was time to make a move to secure the win.
Krup had led since the drop of the green, through several caution flags and now had home-state favorite Tyler Nicely and newly crowned champion Nick Hoffman breathing down his neck as he approached a sizable pack of lapped traffic on the 3/8-mile high banks of Cedar Ridge Speedway. Krup stuck mainly to the lower side of the track and began to pick each car in the pack off, one-by-one, until he was forced to move up to get around some others.
With two laps left, Krup made some contact with one of the slower cars that nearly stumbled his momentum as he came out of Turn 4 to collect the white flag. But his JHA Motorsports #K19 was strong and stable, and Krup was able to get through the late-race traffic jam to collect his fifth DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals Feature win of the season in the preliminary night of action at the seventh annual Hope for Harlie benefit race.
“I just kept looking up at the flagman, just wishing he’d throw that checkered,” Krup said after the race. “It was getting awfully thick there. But all-in-all, I survived that deal and came home with a good victory.”
Cedar Ridge has been good to Krup in years’ past. He scored the very first Summit Modified Feature win of his career here last year, also on night #1 of Hope for Harlie weekend. On Friday night, Krup looked as strong as he’s been all year, and it paid off – $1,500 worth.
“It helps being confident after winning the last couple years at this particular race,” Krup said. “The car was really good tonight; I just hope it’s good tomorrow with a lot more money on the line. Everybody’s going to bring their A-game tomorrow, for sure.”
Leading the pack for an all-Elite Chassis podium once again, Krup knew the pressure was coming from Nicely and Hoffman behind him, and he kicked it into high gear at just the right time.
“I had a stick guy up there that I was watching and the gap never got any bigger, never got any smaller, but I just knew that you can’t mess-up in those situations because if you get out of line a little bit, they’ll get underneath you and they’re gonna be hard to pass back,” he said.
Nicely actually viewed the thick traffic at the end as an interesting added element to maneuver around.
“That lapped traffic got pretty heavy there at the end,” Nicely said. “I was kinda looking forward to it; it was just gonna help throw another car into it.”
Crossing the stripe with a runner-up finish, Nicely even had to throw a slide job and execute some needle-threading on the slower cars in front of him just to get by.
“When the lapped cars are running side-by-side, that really affects you,” Nicely said.
“But we got through it with no damage.”
He may have been denied victory by his own Elite Chassis customers again, but Hoffman’s still got a chance to tie his own single-season wins record in Saturday night’s $3,000-to-win finale if he can get the job done. A rare third-place performance in his Heat Race Friday night set him up with an eighth-place landing spot on the starting grid, which he said had an effect on Feature outcome.
“Just gotta tune on it to try and get better earlier in the night,” Hoffman said. “Tonight, burying myself in that Heat Race put me buried in the Feature, and you can’t expect to pass these guys.
“I felt like I was just as good as the two in front of me, just kinda had to pick and choose in lapped traffic. Will got through there really well and so did Tyler. I felt like all three of us were pretty equal speed-wise.”
The DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals / American Modified Series action continues Saturday night with the Hope for Harlie finale – $3,000 on the line for the winner of the 40-lap Feature.
Keep up to date with all the latest and greatest content from the DIRTcar Summit Modifieds by liking the tour page on Facebook and following on Twitter @SummerNationals.
Feature (25 Laps) 1. K19-Will Krup ; 2. 25-Tyler Nicely ; 3. 7-Nick Hoffman ; 4. 22H-Josh Harris ; 5. 18-Brandon McDowell ; 6. 24-Zeke McKenzie ; 7. K7-Gabriel Kirtley ; 8. 21D-Danny Schwartz ; 9. 16C-John Clippinger ; 10. 55L-Alex Love ; 11. 55-Blaze Melton ; 12. 13-Charlie Mefford ; 13. 22-Wade Wenthe ; 14. O3-Zach Dennis ; 15. 11-Dennis Vincent ; 16. 46-Johnny Madden ; 17. 37-TY Shearon ; 18. 81-Mark Cole ; 19. 8-TJ Armour ; 20. 81C-Christopher Cole ; 21. 59R-Jacob Rexing ; 22. R4-Ricky Arms  Hard Charger: 21D-Danny Schwartz[+8]