While the top side of the banking held him up through much of the race, Bobby Pierce may have leaned most on his past experiences at Paducah International Raceway to score his fourth DIRTcar Summer Nationals victory of the season Friday night.
Until Friday, the Hell Tour hadn’t graced the high banks of the big 3/8-mile oval since June 28, 2013. That race was won by the one and only six-time champion and Dirt Late Model Hall-of-Famer Billy Moyer. Also in the field that night – a 16-year-old Bobby Pierce.
Though he finished fifth, the teenage racing sensation showed he was right on the cusp of breaking through to victory. Two nights later, he finally did break through, winning his first career Summer Nationals Feature in front of a home state Illinois crowd.
Nine years and forty-four tour victories later, Pierce still recalls the laps he made around the ultra-fast Paducah, and they might have just played a role in his journey to a dominant victory for $10,000 Friday night.
“I’ve always really liked this racetrack when I was younger; I just haven’t been able to come here in years,” Pierce said. “This was one I wanted to win pretty badly, probably more than any other on the tour, just because this place is so unique. Really, there’s nowhere like it.”
Pierce, the four-time Summer Nationals champion from Oakwood, IL, also has memories of racing at Paducah even before his Super Late Model career started.
“It definitely helped out that I was here in the past,” he said. “The first time I came here was in my Crate Late Model, and I was 12 or 13, I think. That’s pretty young for how big this place is.
“I remember going down the straightaways and having all day to think about my corner entrance because it felt like it took five days to get there with how long the straightaways are.”
He used those long straightaways to the fullest Friday night, stretching out his lead with ease once the race got going after a few early caution periods. Former tour regular Tanner English chased him throughout the 30-lap event, but never could keep pace with Pierce, ultimately settling for second.
After the first two yellows in the opening laps, only one final caution appeared just past the halfway mark. This erased Pierce’s three-plus-second lead and put English right on his bumper for the restart, which Pierce handled with ease, though there’s always the chance he doesn’t launch well.
“You always worry about that, especially going into Turn 1 here,” Pierce said. “With the line I was running, it’s a little bit strange. You go in there and it feels like you’re going 100 miles an hour and that wall is like a quick 90, and it was kinda slick up to it.”
The DIRTcar Summer Nationals returns to action on July 2 for a $10,000-to-win Saturday night special at Clarksville Speedway. If you can’t be at the track, watch every lap live on DIRTVision.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)
Feature 30 Laps | 00:25:37.649
- 32-Bobby Pierce; 2. 81E-Tanner English; 3. 21-Billy Moyer Jr; 4. 15-Christian Hanger; 5. 96T-Terry English; 6. 3S-Brian Shirley; 7. 25-Jason Feger; 8. 212-Josh Putnam; 9. 81JR-Jason Riggs; 10. 18-Matt Cooper; 11. 14G-Joe Godsey; 12. 4D-Doug Tye; 13. 30-Mark Voigt; 14. 10-Ronnie Cooper; 15. 31AUS-Paul Stubber; 16. 38-Thomas Hunziker; 17. 26M-Brent McKinnon; 18. 81J-Jack Riggs; 19. 23NZ-Mick Quin; 20. 14R-Jeff Roth; 21. F1-Payton Freeman; 22. 99-Dylan Thompson; 23. 22-Aaron Edwards; 24. 15F-Richard Frost