Tyler Nicely will have his name etched in the history books alongside Modified legends Mike Harrison, Kenny Wallace and Nick Hoffman during the 33rd Prairie Dirt Classic, July 28-29.
The Owensboro, KY driver will officially be crowned the 2023 DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals champion during the Series’ finale at Fairbury Speedway, making him the fourth champion in Series history.
“It means a lot,” Nicely said. “I’ve never been a big points series racer. I’ve always let it fall into place. If it is meant to be, it’s meant to be. This year, I really wanted to get one of those under my belt. Under the names of Nick (Hoffman), Kenny Wallace, Mike Harrison, all the guys that’s won one. It’s cool to have your name on it.”
In 15 starts during the 2023 Summer Nationals Hell Tour, Nicely scored five wins, 10 top fives and 13 top 10s, giving him a more than 400-point advantage over Zeke McKenzie going into the weekend to lock the title.
His Summer Nationals success comes on top of a more than 20-win season, so far, including five wins during Florida Speedweeks with the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds – three during Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals – and three wins with the MARS Modified Series, where he’s also the current points leader.
The reason for that success? Nicely pointed to a new chassis and help from last year’s Summer Nationals Modified champion as key elements.
“We switched back to an Elite Chassis this year,” Nicely said. “Nick (Hoffman, the owner of the chassis company) has been very helpful. He’s made sure I had the speed I’ve needed all year. Now this new car has been really good all year. We picked up 22 wins, so far, this year. Mainly, just that and having good people behind me, making sure I have everything I need to go out and compete every night.”
Hoffman, the five-time DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals champion and all-time winningest driver in the Series with 69 wins, has more than 100 Elite Chassis racing around the country. With Nicely, Hoffman said he sees a lot of himself in the 28-year-old; a young guy, racing with a couple of young crew members.
“I help him out a bunch,” Hoffman said. “He’s just really good. He takes care of his own deal. Races his Modified just like how I did, as far as running up and down the road…It’s cool to see.”
Along with set up help, Nicely said Hoffman was key in helping him with his confidence during tough weeks, reminding him to leave the bad races behind him and keep looking forward.
During a stretch on the Hell Tour, Nicely broke two rear ends in one week. However, with the support of the Allgaier family, giving him a shop to work in and helping fix the rear ends, Nicely was able to put the issues behind him and continue chasing the Summer Nationals title.
Now, he’ll look ahead to try and score his second Prairie Dirt Classic victory. He earned his first in 2015 and won a Showdown race in 2019 and 2022.
“Fairbury has been good to me, and it’s been bad to me,” Nicely said. “We haven’t had the car we needed to win there I feel like…But I think we’ll be alright. The car has been good here as of late. We’ll just put our heads down. The main thing will be to qualify good Friday night and put yourself in position for those first few rows come Saturday.”
The DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds will join the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models at the 33rd Prairie Dirt Classic – an event that serves as one of the biggest events of the year for both divisions.
“That there is probably the most atmosphere other than the [Gateway Dirt Nationals],” Nicely said. “The atmosphere, the fans, just everything about it is awesome. Fairbury pretty much shuts down the town for that whole weekend. We’ll go up Wednesday night and hang out Thursday and get ready for Friday and Saturday. It is amazing what Matt Curl (owner and promoter of Fairbury Speedway) has done with that place and how the fans are so involved. It is pretty awesome.”
For tickets to the 33rd Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury Speedway, Friday-Saturday, July 28-29, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision.