SPRINGFIELD, MO – Sometimes, a really good car, some quick reflexes and a pinch of good fortune is the recipe for victory.
Bobby Pierce had all three of these Thursday night in the Week #6 kickoff at Springfield Raceway, scoring his ninth DIRTcar Summer Nationals Feature win of the season in convincing fashion by leading 27 of 40 laps to collect the $5,000 check over Ashton Winger and local favorite Scott Crigler.
His 36th career Hell Tour victory officially pushed him past four-time champion Brian Shirley into sole position of fourth place on the all-time wins list, setting him three behind 2004 champion Don O’Neal and 64 behind all-time leaders Billy Moyer and Shannon Babb.
Pierce trailed the opening circuits of the Feature to polesitter Tony Jackson Jr. before cracking the whip as they approached the rear of the field. As Jackson was moving through the first wave of heavy traffic, his left-rear tire gave way and shredded, bringing out the caution and handing the lead over to Pierce.
While the two did make contact after the tire had blown, Pierce was quick to saw at the wheel and escape with only a scrape on the right-side.
From there, it become Pierce’s race to lose. But even with a 115-point advantage in the standings, the three-time champion still wasn’t at ease at the head of the field. Right on his bumper for the restart was a hungry group of competitors just waiting to pounce on a slip-up, including one of his biggest recent rivals – Ashton Winger.
“Ashton was really fast, and he’s been fast the last few races – he’s got something figured out,” Pierce, of Oakwood, IL said in Victory Lane. “I was like, man, I’ve just gotta keep the 12 car behind me so we can stay in position to win this thing.”
Winger, of Hampton, GA, came into Week #6 riding the momentum of two-straight victories to close out Week #5, besting Pierce both times, and was hungry for a three-peat. He restarted in fifth and advanced one position before the next restart two laps later.
Winger hammered the throttle out of Turn 4 and quickly made the charge for Tanner English and Scott Crigler in front of him. He took the low groove into Turns 1-2 on Lap 18 and got a two-for-one special, passing both drivers by sliding up at the exit of Turn 2.
Winger chased Pierce down until the next restart on Lap 22, where he got his best chance at the lead, sliding underneath Pierce for the lead at one point before falling back.
Winger closed the gap in the final laps and got another opportunity to swipe the lead as they approached traffic again before a restart with five-to-go. Pierce had a big pack of traffic in front of him, slowing him down enough to allow Winger to catch up. But by that time, Pierce had already sorted his way through the pack, and the yellow was thrown again.
“The lapped traffic was a bit of a handful,” Pierce said. “That last lap was a little scary.”
Pierce dropped the hammer on the restart and cruised to his 36th career Summer Nationals victory with Winger and Crigler behind him, while Joe Godsey and Tim Lance completed the top-five.
The Summer Nationals next heads back to Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, IL, on Friday, July 23, for the second visit of the season, entitled the Russ Wallace Memorial. Catch all the action live on DIRTVision presented by Drydene.
Feature (40 Laps) 1. 32-Bobby Pierce; 2. 12-Ashton Winger; 3. 12C-Scott Crigler; 4. 14G-Joe Godsey; 5. 48-Tim Lance; 6. 36- Logan Martin; 7. 74-Mitch McGrath; 8. 86-Kyle Beard; 9. 2-Allen Murray; 10. 93-Mason Oberkramer; 11. 50-Kaeden Cornell; 12. 81E-Tanner English; 13. 0-Dewayne Kiefer; 14. 36D-Mark Daye; 15. 78S-Steve Stultz; 16. 38-Thomas Hunziker; 17. 14R-Jeff Roth; 18. 118-Mike Fenton; 19. 49-Justin Wells; 20. 56- Tony Jackson Jr; 21. 75-Terry Phillips; 22. 66-Hayden Ross