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Daily Dirt 06/21/2024 18:32:40

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September 28
Atomic Speedway,
Alma, OH
Sanction: Castrol FloRacing Night in America - $22,022
Information provided by: Staff and series reports (last updated September 29, 12:33 pm)
Pierce holds on at Atomic for $22,022 Castrol cash
  1. Bobby Pierce
  2. Devin Moran
  3. Brent Larson
  4. Doug Drown
  5. Tyler Erb
  6. Kyle Strickler
  7. Rod Conley
  8. Garrett Alberson
  9. Garrett Smith
  10. Brandon Sheppard
  11. R.J. Conley
  12. Boom Briggs
  13. Michael Brown
  14. Kyle Larson
  15. Clint Keenan
  16. Steve Casebolt
  17. Freddie Carpenter
  18. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  19. Camaron Marlar
  20. Josh Richards
  21. Colten Burdette
  22. Tyler Carpenter
presented by
Zach Yost
Bobby Pierce takes the checkered flag for a $22,022 victory at Atomic Speedway.
What won the race: Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., grabbed the lead from Brandon Sheppard on lap 18 and turned back a late challenge from Devin Moran to capture Wednesday’s 50-lap Castrol FloRacing Night in America feature at Atomic Speedway. The 25-year-old beat Moran to the finish line by eight-tenths of a second for a $22,022 winner’s check and his second straight series triumph.
Key notes: Pierce’s winning move past Sheppard on lap 18 saw the two drivers make slight contact, sending Sheppard’s Rocket house car into a near-spin in turn three. … Sheppard maintained control but faded to an 11th-place finish after leading laps 1-17. … Moran threatened Pierce after a lap-45 restart but settled for second after starting 13th. … Mike Marlar experienced trouble in both his heat and consolation race; without a Castrol tour provisional tour left to use, his night was over. He entered the race second in series points.
On the move: Doug Drown of Wooster, Ohio, started 18th and finished fourth.
Winner's sponsors: Pierce’s Pierce Race Car is sponsored by Hoker Trucking, Allgayer Inc., Rio Grande Waste Services, Mesilla Valley Transportation, Carnaghi Towing & Repair, Extreme Electric, Toyota of Danville, Quality Paint & Body, Base Racing Fuels, Senior Life Insurance and the Vermilion County Bobcats.
Points chase: Before Atomic: 1. Brandon Sheppard (450); 2. Mike Marlar (363); 3. Bobby Pierce (329); 4. Ricky Thornton Jr. (324); 5. Hudson O'Neal (312); 6. Tyler Erb (300); 7. Stormy Scott (237); T8. Dennis Erb Jr. (222); T8. Ryan Gustin (220); 10. Tanner English (215).
Current weather: Broken Clouds, 54°F
Car count: 29
Fast qualifier: Brandon Sheppard
Time: 13.053 seconds
Polesitter: Brandon Sheppard
Heat race winners: Brandon Sheppard, Ricky Thornton Jr., Bobby Pierce
Consolation race winners: Tyler Carpenter
Next series race: October 6, Tri-County Racetrack (Brasstown, NC) $22,022
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff reports

ALMA, Ohio (Sept. 28) — Bobby Pierce hoped he’d have a car good enough to compete for a win in Wednesday’s Castrol FloRacing Night in America event at Atomic Speedway. He said he even told his crew that “we're not really good here” before the night’s action got underway. After a convincing victory in the midweek affair, however, Pierce's outlook on Atomic is likely much more positive.

Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., grabbed the lead from polesitter Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., on lap 18 and turned back a late challenge from Dresden, Ohio’s Devin Moran to capture the 50-lap main event. The 25-year-old beat 13th-starting Moran to the finish line by 0.800 of a second for a $22,022 winner’s check and his second straight triumph on the series.

“I think I've only been here five or six times, so I don't have a good handle on the track,” said Pierce. “We'll take it. This car has been great. Really good to finish a race you know it just has some issues. It's just an awesome night all around. I'm ecstatic. It's a big race. These Flo races pay good money. There's a lot of people watching at their home whatever so just a huge thank you to (FloRacing) and Atomic and all these fans for coming out and all the fans for watching. It was an awesome night.”

Brent Larson of Lake Elmo, Minn., rallied from 15th to finish third, while Doug Drown of Wooster, Ohio, finished fourth after starting 18th. Tenth-starting Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, completed the top five.

Sheppard, looking for his 14th win of the season, led the first 17 laps, but faded to an 10th-place finish following contact with Pierce. Pierce, who started third, surged ahead briefly down the backstretch on lap 17, but Sheppard motored back ahead by the time they reached the flagstand. On the next lap Pierce pulled even with Sheppard again down the backstretch and turned down the track as they entered turn three. The two touched with Pierce appearing to get into the right front of Sheppard’s Rocket Chassis house car, sending Sheppard into a long slide entering turn three. Though he somehow maintained control, Sheppard was never a threat thereafter.

“That lapper was there and it seemed like whenever we caught lap traffic is slowed us down a little bit,” said Pierce. “I had a good line right before that so I knew once we got to lap traffic I'd have a chance. (Sheppard) was kind of slipping up over there and I was able to get under him and when I slid the lapped car I wasn't going to clear him and we almost hit, so I let Brandon back under me.

“We went down the backstretch and I went for it again but Brandon was right there. We made a little bit of contact. I don't know if he was mad about it. I didn't really even know he was there, I just had my eye on the lapper, but I don't know how he finished. It was fun racing with him. Whenever you can race cars like that it's a lot of fun because they're the best in the business and it's hard to beat them, especially here because I've never won a race here.”

Now he has. And he had to turn back the winner of last year’s event — Moran — to do so.

Moran cracked the top 10 by lap five and climbed to seventh by lap 14. He picked up four positions — including two when Camaron Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., and Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., spun out of contention while battling inside the top five — on lap 20 as he moved to third. Three laps later, Moran moved by Eatonton, Ga.’s Garrett Smith into second.

By lap 30, Pierce’s lead grew to 2.858 seconds before Moran began to slowly chip away qt the deficit.

“I really didn't know where to be honestly, especially on the restarts,’’ said Pierce. “I guess I was doing a good job restarting low and hitting that cushion. There was just a little bit of cushion in the top of (turn) one and I was hitting that and getting a good run off of (turn) two. (Turns) three and four is a tricky corner.

“(The groove) definitely moves around. I was kind of surprised that no one was able to run the bottom in that mud and get going because I was really loose on top. I felt like my left rear was going flat. That's why I kept spinning the tires under the caution, in case it was going flat. It's a tricky race track you know.”

While four cautions slowed the pace, including one with five laps remaining that erased Pierce’s 1.307-second lead, Moran was never able to mount a serious challenge for the lead.

“I really didn't want that last caution,” Moran said. “I knew we were getting to lapped cars and I could see them up there; they were all run in the middle to the top and I knew Bobby obviously hadn't been to the bottom all night or at least I didn't think he had. For how the night started this is definitely a success for us. I wanted to double down and win this race two years in a row but … It's definitely a good kick off to start the weekend.”

Larson said he “basically followed (Moran) through the field for the most part” but his charge stalled after reaching third. It was a solid finish after a lackluster effort during prelims forced him to go digging through his set-up notes.

“I don't know what happened in qualifying but we were no good,” said Larson. “I was pretty mediocre in the heat race. So I just got my notebook out from last time we were here. We hadn't been here since May. You think I've learned a lot since then or I've gotten better since then. Then you get to a place and all the sudden you're like, ‘Man I'm no good. I've got to get back to where I was.’

“That's what I did for the feature. I just threw a few small things at it from where my notes were at and man we picked up and we were pretty decent. When you have a good race car you feel invincible up to the point where you get to some guys who have better race cars and then you’re just kind of following them around. But Devin had a good car. I wish he had won, maybe I would have taken second.”

Notes: Pierce became the first driver in the Castrol tour’s two-year history to win back-to-back events; he also was victorious on Sept. 13 at Fairbury (Ill.) Speedway. … Brent Larson’s third-place finish was a career-best in Castrol series action. … Four caution flags dotted the event: Josh Richards slowed on lap four; Ricky Thornton Jr. and Camaron Marlar tangled battling for fourth on lap 20; Steve Casebolt went over the backstretch berm on lap 32; and fourth-place Kyle Larson blew a right-rear tire on lap 45. … Casebolt was sent to the pits by officials for bumping Tyler Erb’s car under caution after the two drivers made contact on lap 32. … Mike Marlar stopped on the track with a broken driveshaft while running second in the third heat. He experienced more trouble in the B-main and retired early; without a Castrol tour provisional tour left to use, his night was over.

Feature lineup

Row 1: Sheppard, Thornton
Row 2: Pierce, Briggs
Row 3: K. Larson, R.J. Conley
Row 4: C. Marlar, Alberson
Row 5: G. Smith, T. Erb
Row 6: Richards, Strickler
Row 7: Moran, Burdette
Row 8: B. Larson, Casebolt
Row 9: Rod Conley, Drown
Row 10: T. Carpenter, F. Carpenter
Row 11: Keenan, Brown
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