September (By Tyson Graves)
One of the rising stars of our sport the past couple years has been Kyle Strickler. The modified ace has begun to branch out in his career. Two years ago, he made his truck series debut at Eldora Speedway. Then in 2019 we saw him get behind the wheel of a Super Late Model to run special events, like at Eldora Speedway. Kyle has fallen in love with the half-mile oval in Ohio.
In the spring we saw Kyle win a preliminary event for the Dirt Late Model Stream, the biggest win of this career to date. The excitement from the driver they call the “Highside Tickler” was apparent and his talent showed he was here to stay in our sport. His self-funded team ran well wherever he went. In July he finished second at the Show Me 100, his first ever visit to the track. This set the stage for his return to the Big E in September for the Intercontinental Classic.
Kyle showed he was fast all weekend long. Starting up front in the Saturday night replacement of the World 100, he jumped out to a early lead. Kyle was dominate in his performance. As the laps wound down the closest competitor was Jonathan Davenport, but he was a couple of seconds back as we had two laps to go. But when Strickler came to take the white flag it all changed. Kyle slowed down the front straight away and it was apparent that he had a tire going down. Down the back straight away Jonathan Davenport scooted by and went on to win the Intercontinental Classic.
What a dejected blow for Kyle Stricker who was so close to a $50,000 win that would have been a career moment for the driver from North Carolina. Our sport has the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Kyle experienced them all in a matter of seconds in New Weston, Ohio. A dejected and emotional Strickler had to choke back the tears in his post-race interview that none of us will forget anytime soon. Strickler simply said, “We will be back.” Strickler’s heartbreak, one of the top moments of the 2020 season.
Photo: Zach Yost