Kyle Brown and Kyle Strickler comment on the retaliation between the former buddies
Watch the video of the IMCA Modified retaliation below
On Friday of September 14th, Marshalltown Speedway hosted the IMCA World Nationals. It was a race that was postponed from earlier in the season. A lot was on the line as the IMCA Modified race winner following the multi-day show would pocket $10,000.
To take home the check, drivers had to first qualify for the main event. Two rounds of heat races took care of that.
Friday – Heat 2 (Round 1)
The green flag dropped on heat number two in the first round. Strickler ran three wide into turn one. The car got tight in the middle.
Strickler pushed up the hill. Kyle Brown was already on the gas and coming around on the outside. Strickler used up the entire race track on the exit as Brown was pushed off the track down the back stretch.
Kyle Brown (#21K): “In the first round of heats I started behind Kyle and got a run in turn 1 and 2 to his outside he got tight and I trusted that he would keep a lane. But, the push was beyond being able to do so. I ended up off turn 2 luckily with no damage,” Brown explained to RacingNews.co .
“We discussed the incident in the infield which he blamed on the track conditions but then later came down and said he saw the video and was apologetic for ‘dooring me off the track.’ At that point, everything was back to normal and we continued to joke around and bench race,” Brown concluded.
Kyle Strickler (#8): “The first incident in the first heat race… I was ahead of him. My car got tight and went up the race track. I had no clue he or anybody else was out there. He kinda got pushed off the race track,” detailed to RacingNews.co .
Strickler went on to win the first heat. Brown came back to finish in 4th. And so far, everybody’s on the same page…
Friday – Heat 2 (Round 2)
The field was inverted for round two of the night. Kyle Strickler and Kyle Brown both started deep in the field for the second round of heat races.
Heading into turn three on lap 1, Strickler dropped a slider through the middle of the race track. He drove past four cars all at once. He parked it against the cushion off the corner directly in front of the pole sitter David Brown (Kyle Brown’s father).
Kyle Brown (#21K): “He made a daring slider move on my Dad on lap 1 of a 12 lap race. Where dad had to check up to save his nose and turned under him down the straightaway, With Phillips under him, dad was in a bad spot as Kyle came back across the racetrack and turned dads RF towards the infield.”
They came off the corner three wide. David Brown and Strickler fought for space and banged wheels for the lead. Both cars scrubbed speed heading into turn one. Entering turn one, Kyle Brown drove it deep to the middle of the race track.
Kyle Brown (#21K): “That situation left a big gap to enter in turn 1 for me so I took advantage of the opening and drove in and rolled the middle.”
Off the corner, he left the outside lane open for a moment. Brown then closed it halfway off the corner. It was too late. Strickler already put his nose in there. This time, Strickler was the one sent off the race track.
On the surface, it would appear that was as a direct retaliation to the first incident. Frame by frame, they mirrored each other. However, Brown insists otherwise.
Kyle Brown (#21K): “I never saw or heard the 8 car through late center or exit and was looking for his nose. From my point of view he was not there. So, I rolled to the cushion to go down the backstretch.”
“After seeing the video when I closed the gap is when he had a run and he slid off turn 2. I do recall feeling a slight nudge in the RR and thinking he must have been right there. At that point I assumed he was in second and we would race it out like we have done many times.”
“I went under him in heat 2 and never saw the nose so I thought he either jumped cushion or crossed under me. You can see where I hang about a lane off the top for 30-40 yards waiting to see a nose. I never saw it so I thought I better get to the grip on the top and launch down the straightaway.”
Kyle Strickler (#8): “There’s a big difference between a racing incident, which I consider the first one. And the second one. I was leading into turn one, he deliberately drove in there. It was like he waited until I got alongside of him. Then, he drove me off the race track.”
“In my book, that was 100% deliberate. He thought it would be funny to get me back or whatever the situation was. If you’re going to be driving people like that, the rule of thumb is you better be fast enough where they can’t catch ya. Unfortunately, he wasn’t,” Strickler concluded.
Kyle Brown (#21K): “I’m sure he thought it was payback but honestly I just wanted to win and after the deal with him and dad that was my shot at getting by him I had to get position.”
“Had nothing to do with anything other than I had to win that race to get locked in on points,” Brown concluded.
Kyle Strickler (#8): “Of course he’s going to say that. Because he came out on the losing end of it. I feel like there’s guys in this industry that you race with respect. I feel like with my accomplishments and how long I’ve been doing this, I deserve respect.”
“Not that every other racer doesn’t deserve respect too. But, from what I’ve been hearing, he does this to weekly racers all the time.”
“I’ve known Kyle Brown for a long time. I drove for him a couple years ago. He even raced me like that back then. Even when I was driving his own cars.”
“I’ve had issues with him in the past. After a week of struggling at Boone, we finally had a really fast race car. And his stuff wasn’t that great. So, I feel like he took a deliberate shot at me to take me off the race track or take me out of contention.”
“It was to the point where I had to win that second heat race to start on the front row. I knew Richie Gustin won both of his heats and was going to be really tough to beat,” Strickler stated.
After being pushed off the race track, Strickler began running back through the field. However, contact with another car sent him to the tail once more.
Kyle Brown (#21K): “We had a restart when I saw him spun in turn 1 from another incident. At that point I was worried about out running Cayden Carter, who’s always quick. Cayden got by me and I had settled for second on corner entry of turn 3 of the last lap which would have been a good points run and put us on the front row of the heat on Saturday.”
Meanwhile, Kyle Strickler had been carving his way through the field. He was on a mission and now he had a target. At the white flag, Strickler was on the back bumper of 3rd place.
Heading into turn three, Stricker drove to the bottom and went right on by. Kyle Brown was in 2nd place and riding the cushion off the final corner. Strickler gassed it up, setting sail for the already occupied cushion. Strickler knocked Brown clear off the cushion and into the wall.
Kyle Brown (#21K): “I caught a glimpse of the 8 car just before contact. Honestly, I thought he was just running in hard and was gonna check up to tuck in behind and run 3rd which would have put him on the front row of the 10k to win.”
“Once I realized what was happening I was airborne and looking at spectators behind the fence. I hit the wall harder than I have ever hit anything in a car.”
“I was frustrated with the damage on my race car but thought, ‘Hell, maybe he just missed it and will come say sorry and it was just a mistake/just racing.’ ”
As Brown got back to the pit area he was informed that the move from Strickler was done on purpose.
Brown continued, “At first I felt betrayed and upset that someone I have built a relationship with would throw all that away out of spite when they get beat. Then, I realized how big of a back lash he was receiving from competitors and fans.”
“So I caulked it up as his own loss. That Id rather not be associated with someone that thinks what that was a normal thing to do.”
“I respected Kyle as a race car driver and enjoyed his friendship through the years but I have more important things on my plate,” Brown concluded.
Kyle Strickler (#8): “I had to go out there and prove a point. Eventually, when someone keeps driving you a certain way … Nothing’s going to change until you do something drastic like I did.”
“I hate to race people like that and no matter what people say on the internet … I don’t race like that. I feel like I’m a professional racer. I do this for a living. And I had to put a stop to it.”
“Hopefully, he’ll think twice about playing games on the race track again.”
After the race…
Kyle Strickler went to the pit area with some sheet metal damage. Kyle Brown’s car on the other hand suffered heavy damage and went off on the hook.
Kyle Brown (#21K): “All bolt on components. The frame held up great along with my safety equipment and I walked away just a touch sore. Shock, lower control arm, steering arm, 2 wheels, 3 tires, left side header and nerf bar.”
“We didn’t need to ‘have fun re-clipping our car’ as his crew chief bragged who was also a friend, ha.”
Kyle Strickler was disqualified from the second round heat race on Friday night.
Kyle Strickler (#8): “Yeah. They had to do something. They can’t let stuff go like that. The race track, they did what they had to do.”
“At the end, that was a deliberate shot at him to prove a point and to stop him from driving the way he drives everybody.”
So, you fully understand them putting a DQ on you for that?
“Oh absolutely. They just black flagged me for questionable driving. It was a decision that I made, that I knew I was going to get black flagged for,” Strickler continued.
“There was nothing questionable about it. It was a deliberate shot to prove a point to him that you can’t race people like that.”
“It’s funny because Cayden Carter, Terry Phillips and myself all raced together. We’re running three wide and four wide. Pulling side jobs on each other like three professional race car drivers do when they have respect for each other.”
“Then, you have the situation where it really wasn’t even racing. I just feel like he took a shot at me. When you’re in the race car you make decisions. He made a decision to run me off the race track and didn’t think that I would hold him accountable for it. That’s 100% not how it’s going to be when you’re racing me.”
“I’m going to race you how you race me. I’ve had enough of the little stuff over the years. Where he would door dink me or drive over me. Just stuff that would aggravate me over and over. Finally, I had to put a stop to it.”
The disqualification regulated Strickler to the C Main on Saturday. He transferred to the main event. Kyle Brown got the car fixed up but didn’t finish Saturday’s B Main.
The track locked down in the feature race on Saturday night. Strickler tucked in line and finished 20th.
Leading up to the race…
To me, the most interesting part of this story is that these two drivers were friends for years. On the Monday leading up to the race, they went golfing together.
Kyle Brown (#21K): “Up until that maneuver we were good friends that just race each other hard, were both competitive and want to win.”
Kyle Strickler (#8): “Kyle [Brown] and I are good friends off the race track. I don’t know what happens when he puts his helmet on. But, he consistently drives over people and races people hard in situations that he shouldn’t.”
“I’m all for hard racing. I just got to the point where I felt he was deliberately trying to get back at me or deliberately take me out of contention. I won’t stand for that.”
“I love hanging out with his crew chief, Brandon Mannhardt. He worked for me for 6 years and he’s one of my really good friends.”
“Off the race track, him and his family are awesome. I love him to death. But, when he straps into a race car it’s just constantly the same thing over and over again.”
As recently as 2016, Kyle Strickler actually drove for Harris Auto Racing. That was the second time around in a Harris Chassis.
Was there any bad blood from the chassis deal in the past?
“I used to drive one oh his race car, two years ago. That had nothing to do with it on my end,” Strickler continued. “I had a lot of success with Harris Auto Racing when my career first started. But, he was not the owner of the company at that time.”
“I had left and came back to Harris. Him and I put a deal together. We had probably one of my worst years. I was very unsuccessful with his cars. I don’t know if it was just my style of driving didn’t fit those chassis’ or whatever.”
“I had to move on and do something different. I can’t make a living racing if I’m not winning races. We were just struggling every time we went to the race track.”
“I went on to do great things now with the Longhorn stuff. We’re winning a ton of races. We had our best season last year. I don’t know if he holds that grudge. But, on my end, it had nothing to do with that.”
“I’m there to win. Whether it’s him or any other racer across the country, I’m there to win. Maybe he feels like he has to beat me because it looks bad on his company. But, on a personal level, we get along great.”
“I’ve just been too nice to him in the past to just let it go. I wasn’t about to just let it go another time. Especially, when I thought we had a really good shot at winning $10,000. Unfortunately, we didn’t pull it off because of that,” Strickler concluded.
Kyle Brown (#21K): “We had the car fixed the next morning and went about our business. I have learned that nothing good comes from that for any of us.”
“I lost a friend that night at the racetrack but I am just glad none of the fans or other racers outside the situation got hurt,” Brown concluded.