QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. — Bobby Pierce still has his eyes on $250,000.
Keeping his hopes alive for the Keyser Quarter-Million Challenge, the polesitter from Oakwood, Ill., took the lead from Brandon Overton on a lap-15 restart and captured the second round of the Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout for his second straight Arizona Speedway victory.
The title sponsor’s bonus pays $250,000 to any driver who can win all six Late Model features of the miniseries. Bonuses are also available for five victories ($100,000) or four victories ($50,000), and Pierce is intent on getting one “if we can stay lucky,” he said.
“I know we’ve got a fast race car … if everything will stay on it. We’ve just gotta stay up front. Drawing the (pole Sunday) and and (outside the front row Saturday) really helped us a lot. Winning those heat races is really key. … if we can keep doing that, we’ve got a really good shot at it.”
Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, finished 2.8 seconds behind in second after a late-race duel with Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., while Overton, of Evans, Ga., twice found the guardrail in slipping back to finish fourth ahead of Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla.
Garrett Alberson of Las Cruces, N.M., who led the first 12 laps from outside the front row, struggled in the second half of the race, finishing eighth.
Overton took the lead from Overton with a slide job on a lap-13 restart, and Pierce duplicated the move on the following restart a few laps later and pulled away for his second victory in as many nights.
“The track was really brutal tonight in some spots, but it made for great racing,” Pierce said. “Heck, that one time I fell back to fifth on that one restart, and then down the backstretch got one of ‘em (back), and luckily I think it was (Rodney) Sanders left me enough room to get past him, then I slid (past) Garrett (Alberson). … and then got that caution. I was hoping for that. I needed something to set up Brandon because I don’t know if I would’ve got him on the clean green-flag run.”
Simpson rode the low groove to his second-place finish but never got within striking distance of Pierce.
“Once (the low groove) got cleaned up, I started coming pretty good,” said Simpson, who battled Mars for the runner-up spot in the final laps. “Just looking at lap times there, the last three or four laps I was a tenth or two (of a second) better than Bobby (per lap). I think we’ve definitely got a good car. We’ve got a good balance on the car and you know (we’ll) just keep working and maybe start a little closer (to the front) and get one of these (victories) to take back to Iowa.”
Overton took command before the halfway point with his slide job, but the young Georgia driver briefly got into the turn-two guardrail when Pierce went under him on the next restart. Overton was hanging on to second late in the race when he caught the guardrail exiting turn four, allowing Mars and then Simpson to roll past.
“It’s just a little treacherous up there on that cushion,” said Overton, who substituted for concussion-sidelined Don Shaw of Ham Lake, Minn. “Bobby’s car would just go around there, you know, he could get around there better than I could. I just kept bottoming out when it was choppy. But, all in all, we’ve been up front both days, and just a little bit more tweaking, I think we’ll get ‘em.”
A lap-15 pileup in turn three brought out a red flag and eliminated several drivers after A.J. Diemel and Billy Moyer tangled, triggering a wreck that ended with Justin Duty’s car rolling on top of Diemel’s machine after Duty, Jake O’Neil, Mike Marlar and Bobby Hogge IV slid into the mess. No one was injured.
The feature was also slowed by two cautions, the first for a lap-seven accident for home-track favorite Ricky Thornton Jr. and again on lap 13 when Terry Phillips slowed with a flat right-rear tire.
Thornton, driving the J.R. Haley-owned No. 33x out of Baldwin, Wis., got into the turn-three guardrail while running fourth and collected an onrushing Jason Rauen, eliminating both drivers with significant damage.
The third round of the winter miniseries is scheduled for Wednesday evening with hot laps at 5:30 p.m. and racing at 7 for Super Late Models, modifieds and X-mods. The event wraps up with Friday-Sunday programs capped by a $12,000-to-win Late Model finale.
Notes: Jason Rauen of Farley, Iowa, said the wreck with Thornton bent the frame of his Black Diamond Chassis, ending his desert run. … For the second straight night, the modified winner was also competitor in the Late Model division. Dustin Strand of Grand Forks, N.D., won Sunday’s race while Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., won Saturday. … Strand had a flat tire early in the Late Model feature … Three of five Late Model heat races weren’t decided until the final lap. Garrett Alberson won a stirring three-car battle with Earl Pearson Jr. and Billy Moyer in the second heat, while Pierce overtook Rodney Sanders just before the white flag in the third heat. Ricky Thornton Jr. overtook Jason Rauen in a two-lap shootout to the checkers in the fifth heat. … Race teams get two nights off before returning to action Wednesday, but the track is open for practice Tuesday night at a cost of $200 per car.
Preliminary results and notes:
Pro Power non-qualifier dash
Results: Scott Ward, Steve Drake, Tony Toste, Nick Bartels, Billy Franklin, Cole Schill, Rob Sanders, Darren Coffell, Thomas Hunziker, Steve Stultz, Collen Winebarger, Andrew Kosiski.
Row 1: Scott Ward, Nick Bartels
Row 2: Tony Toste, Collen Winebarger
Row 3: Andrew Kosiski, Steve Drake
Row 4: Billy Franklin, Thomas Hunziker
Row 5: Cole Schill, Rob Sanders
Row 6: Steve Stultz, Darren Coffell
(Top two transfer)
First consolation: R.C. Whitwell, Joey Moriarty, Scott Ward, Tony Toste, Andrew Kosiski, Billy Franklin, Cole Schill, Steve Stultz, Clay Daly, Paul Guglielmoni, Larry Childress, Kyle Beard, Kye Frick.
Second consolation: Jason Krohn, Terry Phillips, Nick Bartels, Collen Winebarger, Steve Drake, Thomas Hunziker, Rob Sanders, Darren Coffell, Jon Ortega, Brian Kleine, Dave Deetz, John Brinkley, John Duty, Carlos Ahumada Jr.
(12 laps; top two transfer)
Row 1: R.C. Whitwell, Clay Daly
Row 2: Scott Ward, Joey Moriarty
Row 3: Kyle Beard, Billy Franklin
Row 4: Tony Toste, Steve Stultz
Row 5: Cole Schill, Andrew Kosiski
Row 6: Kye Frick, Paul Guglielmoni
Row 7: Larry Childress, Terry Carter
Row 8: Greg Jelvik
Row 1: Jason Krohn, Nick Bartels
Row 2: Collen Winebarger, Terry Phillips
Row 3: Thomas Hunziker, Rob Sanders
Row 4: John Duty, Darren Coffell
Row 5: Brian Kleine, Jon Ortega
Row 6: Carlos Ahumada Jr., Steve Drake
Row 7: John Brinkley, Dave Deetz
Heat race results
(Top four transfer)
First heat: Brandon Overton, Jimmy Mars, Tyler Erb, Jake O'Neil, R.C. Whitwell, Collen Winebarger, Billy Franklin, Darren Coffell, Kye Frick, John Brinkley.
Second heat: Garrett Alberson, Earl Pearson Jr., Billy Moyer, Mike Marlar, Jason Krohn, Joey Moriarty, Rob Sanders, Cole Schill, Carlos Ahumada Jr,, Terry Carter.
Third heat: Bobby Pierce, Rodney Sanders, David Breazeale, Bobby Hogge IV, Clay Daly, Terry Phillips, Tony Toste, Brian Kleine, Paul Guglielmoni, Dave Deetz.
Fourth heat: Ricky Thornton Jr., Jason Rauen, A.J. Diemel, Chad Mahder, Nick Bartels, Kyle Beard, John Duty, Andrew Kosiski, Steve Drake, Greg Jelvik.
Fifth heat: Chris Simpson, Dustin Strand, Justin Kay, Justin Duty, Scott Ward, Thomas Hunziker, Steve Stultz, Jon Ortega, Larry Childress.
Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., is the only driver with a crack at the Keyser Quarter-Million Bonus entering Sunday's second round of the Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout at Arizona Speedway.
Pierce earned $5,000 in Saturday's opener and can earn $50,000 (with three more victories), $100,000 (with four more victories) or $250,000 with a complete sweep of the six-race minseries.
Sunday's program splits Late Models into five groups for time trials with officials employing combination hot-lap/time trials to set the lineups for five heat races. Drivers start straightup by time.
The top four finishers in each of five heat races transfer to the 30-lap main event with the winners redrawing for the first two rows of the feature lineup. Two consolation races will transfer two drivers apiece to complete the 24-car field for the feature, which pays $5,000-to-win.
Sunday's event is the second of six races over the next nine days at the third-mile oval southeast of Phoenix.
Editor's note: Updates with change to five heat races instead of six.
Sunday's car count remained the same at 49 with the addition of drivers A.J. Diemel of Elk Mound, Wis., John Brinkley of Prescott, Ariz., and Jon Ortega of Las Cruces, N.M. (who is driving the car his father Rick drove Saturday. … Diemel is back in action after a Friday practice accident and time away to the track to be with his father, who was briefly hospitalized but is OK now. … Missing from Saturday’s entries are Rick Ortega, James Laing of Tucson, Ariz., and Dan Diebel of Lebanon, Ore. … In trying to scale down a program with nearly 140 total race cars, officials tightened up with fewer heats and consolation races. … The Pro Power Racing Engine Dash will be among the top 12 non-qualifying Late Model drivers with the winner getting the option of taking $1,000 or the 25th spot in the starting field.
Correction: Fixes Rick Ortega as Jon Ortega's father, not brother.
(Heat lineups start straightup)
Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 15.015
Tyler Erb (91), New Waverly, Texas, 15.231
Brandon Overton (42s), Evans, Ga., 15.277
Billy Franklin (17), Calera, Ala., 15.342
Jake O’Neil (0), Tucson, Ariz., 15.417
R.C. Whitwell (96), Tucson, Ariz., 15.641
Darren Coffell (46), Bend, Ore., 15.771
Collen (74w) Winebarger, Corbett, Ore., 16.160
Kye Frick (08), Sweet Home, Ore., 16.172
John Brinkley (26), Prescott, Ariz., 17.040
Garrett Alberson (F5), Las Cruces, N.M., 14.947
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 14.977
Joey Moriarty (51), Phoenix, Ariz., 15.062
Jason Krohn (7k), Slayton, Minn., 15.063
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 15.066
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 15.089
Rob Sanders (10N), Bakersfield, Calif., 15.478
Cole Schill (44), West Fargo, N.D., 15.841
Carlos Ahumada (54), El Paso, Texas, 16.271
Terry Carter (6T), Edmonton, Alberta, 16.640
Rodney Sanders (20), Happy, Texas, 14.830
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 15.066
David Breazeale (54), Four Corners, Miss., 15.145
Bobby Hogge IV (2), Salinas, Calif., 15.417
Clay Daly (32B), Watsonville, Calif., 15.501
Terry Phillips (75), Springfield, Mo., 15.557
Tony Toste (91T), Pismo Beach, Calif., 15.643
Dave Deetz (43), Las Cruces, N.M., 17.104
Paul Guglielmoni (22), Vacaville, Calif., 17.204
Brian Kleine (R5), Las Cruces, N.M., 17.374
A.J. Diemel (58), Elk Mound, Wis., 15.060
Jason Rauen (98), Farley, Iowa, 15.123
Chad Mahder (33C), Eau Claire, Wis., 15.325
Ricky Thornton Jr. (33x), Chandler, Ariz., 15.445
Kyle Beard (86), Trumann, Ark., 15.522
John Duty (5), Mulino, Ore., 15.550
Nick Bartels (12), El Segundo, Calif., 15.698
Steve Drake (11x), San Luis Obispo, Calif., 15.783
Andrew Kosiski (53), Omaha, Neb., 15.962
Greg Jelvik (12), Tucson, Ariz., 17.264
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 15.106
Dustin Strand (71), Grand Forks, N.D., 15.366
Justin Kay (15K), Wheatland, Iowa, 15.435
Justin Duty (15D), Mulino, Ore., 15.643
Scott Ward (37), Watertown S.D., 15.893
Thomas Hunzicker (38), Bend, Ore., 16.112
Steve Stultz (78), Peoria, Ariz., 16.713
Jon Ortega (24), Las Cruces, N.M., 16.780
Larry Childress (17), Bakersfield, Calif., 17.028
3:30 p.m - Hot laps (by heat lineups)
Late Models (combo hot laps/time trials)
4:50 p.m. - National anthem
4:55 p.m. - Heat races
Modifieds (8 laps)
X-mods (8 laps)
Late Models (8 laps)
Modifieds (12 laps)
X-mods (10 laps)
Late Models (12 laps)
Modifieds (25 laps)
Pro Power Dash (12 Late Model non-qualifiers; 10 laps)
X-mods (25 laps)
Late Models (30 laps)