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Daily Dirt 02/08/2023 11:38:14

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December 1
The Dome at America's Center,
St. Louis, MO
Sanction: Unsanctioned Supers (Gateway Dirt Nationals) - $5,000
Information provided by: Robert Holman and Kevin Kovac (last updated December 3, 6:51 am)
Pierce dominates Thursday's Gateway opener
Gateway Dirt Nationals
  1. Bobby Pierce
  2. Ryan Unzicker
  3. Tanner English
  4. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  5. Shannon Babb
  6. Chris Simpson
  7. Brandon Sheppard
  8. Jason Feger
  9. Kylan Garner
  10. Kyle Hammer
  11. Rusty Schlenk
  12. Ryan Montgomery
  13. Ryan Wilson
  14. Tanner Collins
  15. Chris Carpenter
  16. Jayme Zidar
  17. Freddie Carpenter
  18. Gordy Gundaker
presented by
Todd Boyd/photosbyboyd.smugmug.com
Bobby Pierce celebrates his $5,000 victory inside the Dome.
What won the race: Leading all 25 laps from the pole, Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., dominated Thursday's Castrol Gateway Dirt Nationals preliminary feature at The Dome at America's Center. A two-time winner of the event (2017-18), the 26-year-old's $5,000 triumph locked him into Saturday's $30,000-to-win finale along with runner-up Ryan Unzicker and third-place Tanner English.
Quotable: “I hear this talk of who’s the new kid at the Dome — not this weekend,” Pierce emphatically stated, referring to 2019 and '21 event winner Tyler Carpenter. “I do like the racetrack. It’s really smooth, and I think once they get it figured out a little bit we’ll have a really good racetrack.”
Key notes: El Paso, Ill.'s Unzicker battled with English for several circuits after a lap five-restart before prevailing to finish second, 1.739 seconds behind Pierce. ... English settled for third aboard the Viper Motorsports entry as the newly-formed team continues to build for next year. ... Ricky Thornton Jr. passed Shannon Babb in the closing laps to finish fourth with Babb completing the top five. ... Brandon Sheppard advanced three positions and finished seventh; he nearly reached fifth midway through the race before slipping backward. ... Jason Feger gained four spots and finished eighth. ... Freddie Carpenter brought out the only caution when he hit the turn one wall on lap four and retired with rear deck damage. ... Gordy Gundaker pulled in on the opening lap when his car's engine shut off; water in the fuel was later found to be the culprit. ... Thursday's preliminary feature lasted eight minutes with 13 competitors completing all 25 laps.
On the move: Kyle Garner of Diamond, Mo., started 16th and finished ninth.
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.
Car count: 65
Fast qualifier: Bobby Pierce
Time: 12.333 seconds
Polesitter: Bobby Pierce
Heat race winners: Bobby Pierce, Ryan Unzicker, Chris Simpson, Ricky Thornton Jr., Tanner English, Shannon Babb
Consolation race winners: Rusty Schlenk, Freddie Carpenter
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff reports

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Updates from Thursday’s opening round of the sixth annual Gateway Dirt Nationals at The Dome at America's Center in downtown St. Louis, which hosts a $5,000-to-win main event for Super Late Models (results unofficial):

Feature

Leading all 25 laps from the pole, Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., dominated Thursday's Castrol Gateway Dirt Nationals preliminary feature at The Dome at America's Center. A two-time winner of the event (2017-18), the 26-year-old's $5,000 triumph locked him into Saturday's $30,000-to-win finale along with runner-up Ryan Unzicker and third-place Tanner English.

Feature lineup

(25 laps)

Row 1: Bobby Pierce, Ryan Unzicker
Row 2: Shannon Babb, Tanner English
Row 3: Ricky Thornton Jr., Chris Simpson
Row 4: Jayme Zidar, Gordy Gundaker
Row 5: Kyle Hammer, Tanner Collins
Row 6: Brandon Sheppard, Jason Feger
Row 7: Rusty Schlenk, Freddie Carpenter
Row 8: Ryan Montgomery, Kylan Garner
Row 9: Ryan Wilson, Chris Carpenter

Consolation race results

(10 laps; top three transfer)

First consolation: Rusty Schlenk, Ryan Montgomery, Ryan Wilson, Bob Gardner, Jim Rogers, Chad Zobrist, Dewayne Kiefer, Scott Bell, Daniel Adam, Josh Boller, David McCoy, Colt Smith, Blake Higginbotham, Rachel Carpenter, Jason Wagner.

Second consolation: Freddie Carpenter, Kylan Garner, Chris Carpenter, Jeffrey Ledford, Jacob Magee, Jeffrey Shackelford, Jake Miller, Steve Fairbanks, Erik Thorne, Morgan Alexander, Chris Fetter, Joe Denby, Josh Baker, Doug Tye. Scratched: Matt Koch.

Heat race results

(Eight laps; top two transfer)

First heat: Bobby Pierce, Jayme Zidar, Rusty Schlenk, Jason Wagner, Josh Boller, Dewayne Kiefer, Colt Smith, Quentin White, Justin White, Brandon Tibaldi, Adam Elliott.

Second heat: Ryan Unzicker, Gordy Gundaker, Ryan Montgomery, Jim Rogers, Scott Bell, Daniel Adam, Rachel Carpenter, Jeff Neubert, Patrick Kelley, Michael King Jr., Brian Wolfmeier.

Third heat: Chris Simpson, Kyle Hammer, Ryan Wilson, Bob Gardner, Chad Zobrist, David McCoy, Blake Higginbotham, Matthew Tribble, Jacob Kolwyck, Timothy Welch II. Scratched: Tegan Evans.

Fourth heat: Ricky Thornton Jr., Tanner Collins, Freddie Carpenter, Chris Carpenter, Steve Fairbanks, Morgan Alexander, Erik Thorne, Dakota Smith, W.L. Stile, Kyle Wiser, Jordan Barbee.

Fifth heat: Tanner English, Brandon Sheppard, Kylan Garner, Jeffrey Ledford, Jeffrey Shackelford, Doug Tye, Chris Fetter, James Walters, Preston Farmer, Chase Burda, Brayton Laster.

Sixth heat: Shannon Babb, Jason Feger, Jake Miller, Jacob Magee, Joe Denby, Josh Baker, Matt Koch, Kevin Smith, Scott Rhoades, Jon Woods.

Pre-race notes

Sixty-five of the 72 competitors entered for Thursday’s preliminary program are in action to kick off the sixth Castrol Gateway Dirt Nationals. … Conditions outside are clear but rather cold (low 40s), which means there are some chilly spots in the pit area where the convention center doors are opened for cars to head to the fuel truck and staging area. … DirtonDirt.com reporter and videographer Derek Kessinger is filling in as Thursday’s roving announcer for Trenton Berry, who had to call in sick for opening night but is hopeful of feeling well enough to resume his usual post combing the grandstand for interviews on Friday or Saturday. … The qualifying format for the Thursday and Friday preliminary shows calls for six heats with the top two finishers transferring to the 25-lap feature and positions 3-7 heading to B-mains; the remainder of the drivers are done until Saturday’s finale. … Tri-City Speedway promoter Kevin Gundaker, who has overseen the construction of the Dome’s fifth-mile oval since the event’s launch in 2016, said his crew laid down the racing surface in a bit different manner this year with access to “more heavier equipment.” Early indications from Thursday’s hot laps showed a track surface was appears to be shaping up smoother than past years. … Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., noted the smoother look of the track before he even hit the track for practice; as he sat in his car waiting to head to the staging area he was watching the FloRacing broadcast of hot laps on his phone. … Kyle Hammer of Clinton, Ill., is debuting a new XR1 Rocket No. 45 fielded by his father Don — the first time he’s raced for his dad since June when they had a falling out that ended Hammer’s Rookie of the Year run on the World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series. … Making his first appearance at the Dome since finishing 18th in the finale of 2016’s inaugural event, Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, is behind the wheel of Illinois racer Jason Suhre’s MB Customs No. 4. … Perennial Gateway Dirt Nationals contender Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., is piloting the Rocket machine he entered in last year’s Dome action rather than the Longhorn car he drove over the final months of the 2022 season. … Ryan Montgomery of Fairmont, W.Va., is back in St. Louis for the second straight year with western Pennsylvania’s Suppa Racing, but this time he’s driving the team’s 2016 Rayburn car (boasting a swing-arm suspension) rather than the Lazer Chassis he piloted to a ninth-place finish in last year’s finale. The car does, however, sport the same glittery accents it had for the 2022 event. … A first-time Dome entrant is Morgan Alexander, a 25-year-old Crate Late Model racer from Locust Grove, Ga., who is driving a Rocket car fielded by Rusty Griffaw of Festus, Mo. While Griffaw has himself raced in each of the previous five Gateway Dirt Nationals, he decided to raffle off the seat in his car — he sold 100 tickets at $100 apiece — and Alexander obtained the berth from a fellow Georgian who won the contest but realized he couldn’t race this weekend because of a previously planned trip to Mexico.

Time trials

First group
Driver (car no.), hometown

1. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 12.333
2. Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 12.589
3. Chris Simpson (4), Oxford, Iowa, 12.660
4. Jayme Zidar (9z), Hales Corner, Wis., 12.701
5. Jim Rogers (71k), Statesboro, Ga., 12.751
6. Ryan Wilson (4w), Margaret, Ala., 12.782
7. Rusty Schlenk (91), McClure, Ohio, 12.798
8. Gordy Gundaker (11), St. Charles, Mo., 12.799
9. Bob Gardner (4G), Washington, Ill., 12.829
10. Josh Boller (5B), Greencastle, Ind., 12.855
11. Ryan Montgomery (4s), Fairmont, W.Va., 12.926
12. Kyle Hammer (45), Clinton, Ill., 12.938
13. Jason Wagner (J12), Morton, Ill., 13.059
14. Scott Bell (45), East Prairie, Mo., 13.069
15. Chad Zobrist (7z), Highland, Ill., 13.069
16. Dewayne Kiefer (0), St. Genevieve, Mo., 13.077
17. Brian Wolfmeier (5), House Springs, Mo., 13.103
18. David McCoy (187), Franklin, N.C., 13.158
19. Colt Smith (45), Woodruff, S.C., 13.191
20. Daniel Adam (75), Wade, N.C., 13.202
21. Blake Higginbotham (57), Bagley, Minn., 13.213
22. Quentin White (14w), Greenwood, Ind., 13.224
23. Patrick Kelley (2k), Wyoming, Minn., 13.292
24. Matthew Tribble (40), Pocahontas, Ark., 13.326
25. Adam Elliott (11), Cunningham, Ky., 13.390
26. Jeff Neubert (86), Knoxville, Tenn., 13.398
27. Tegan Evans (T22), Clinton, Iowa, 13.472
28. Justin White (20w), Stevensville, Mich., 13.483
29. Rachel Carpenter (11c), Laingsburg, Mich., 13.487
30. Jacob Kolwyck (21k), Griffin, Ind., 13.554
31. Brandon Tibaldi (16T), Almo, Ky., 13.641
32. Michael King Jr. (14jr), El Dorado, Ark., no time
33. Timothy Welch II (56), Gillespie, Ill., no time

Second group
1. Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 12.586
2. Tanner English (96v), Benton, Ky., 12.689
3. Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 12.719
4. Tanner Collins (24c), Franklin, Ga., 12.804
5. Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 12.866
6. Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 12.877
7. Freddie Carpenter (K), Parkersburg, W.Va., 13.025
8. Kylan Garner (USA1), Diamond, Mo., 13.040
9. Jacob Magee (10), Caney, Kan., 13.121
10. Jordan Barbee (2B), Tulsa, Okla., 13.133
11. James Walters (34w), Brazil, Ind., 13.176
12. Jake Miller (28m), Mendota, Ill., 13.192
13. Chris Carpenter (18c), Parkersburg, W.Va., 13.251
14. Jeffrey Ledford (18), Pontiac, Ill., 13.270
15. Joe Denby (27), Tullahoma, Tenn., 13.293
16. Steve Fairbanks (51s), Twin Lake, Mich., 13.324
17. Doug Tye (4D), Collinsville, Ill., 13.349
18. Josh Baker (1B), Mosheim, Tenn., 13.451
19. Erik Thorne (260), Baytown, Texas, 13.489
20. Chase Burda (18), Columbiaville, Mo., 13.494
21. Scott Rhoades (5r), Arvado, Colo., 13.533
22. Kyle Wiser (34), Ashland, Ohio, 13.570
23. Jeffrey Shackleford (28js), Clayton, Ind., 13.637
24. Matt Koch (96), Aviston, Ill., 13.694
25. Morgan Alexander (711), Locust Grove, Ga., 13.701
26. Preston Farmer (32P), Glenwood, Ark., 13.705
27. Kevin Smith (2), Belle Valley, Ohio, 13.708
28. Dakota Smith (B89), Winnfield, La., 13.740
29. Chris Fetter (15F), Troy, Mo., 13.944
30. Jon Woods (111), Patoka, Ind., 14.535
31. W.L. Stile (51s), Muse, Pa., 14.596
32. Brayton Laster (13), Greenwood, Ind., 15.777

Thursday’s schedule

8 a.m.: Competitor parking continues
10 a.m.: Registration and credentials office opens
10:30 a.m.: Permitted early access (credential required)
11 a.m.: Pit area opens
11 a.m.: Technical inspection begins
1 p.m.: Driver’s meeting
1 p.m.: Fuel storage opens
2 p.m.: Spectator gates open
2 p.m.: Engine heat permitted
3 p.m.: On-track activity begins
- Super Late Model hot laps
- Super Late Model time trials
- Modified hot laps/time trials
5 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
- Super Late Model heats (8 laps)
- Modified heats (8 laps)
- Super Late Model consolations (10 laps)
- Modified consolations (8 laps)
- Super Late Models feature (25 laps)
- Modified feature (20 laps)
(Pit area cleared and closed one hour after final checkered flag)

Feature lineup

Row 1: Pierce, Unzicker
Row 2: Babb, English
Row 3: Thornton Jr., Chris Simpson
Row 4: Zidar, G. Gundaker
Row 5: Hammer, Collins
Row 6: Sheppard, Feger
Row 7: Schlenk, F. Carpenter
Row 8: Montgomery, Garner
Row 9: Wilson, C. Carpenter

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