GRANITE CITY, Ill. (July 23) — Friday’s second DIRTcar Summer Nationals event of the season at Tri-City Speedway produced a night of frustration for series points leader Bobby Pierce. That is until the night’s 40-lap feature.
Overcoming his struggles during Friday’s preliminary action, Pierce charged forward from his fifth starting spot to take the lead on lap 12 of Tri-City’s Russ Wallace Memorial main event and never looked back. The Oakwood, Ill., driver cruised through the remainder of the caution-free race to earn $10,000 for his 10th Summer Nationals victory of the season.
Pierce took the checkers 3.603 seconds ahead of polesitter Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill. Ashton Winger of Hampton, Ga., was third, Tanner English of Benton, Ky., fourth and Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., was fifth, the final car on the lead lap.
The dominating performance by Pierce came after he struggled to find his rhythm during the night’s time trials and heat races and after he and his crew had to thrash to get his car ready in time for the feature.
“Really we were lucky to start fifth,” said Pierce, who earned the 37th Summer Nationals victory his career and his third series victory at Tri-City. “We had issues in qualifying, but luckily that first lap was just good enough to start third in the heat. Got second in the heat and started fifth (in the feature). We had so much stuff to do from qualifying to the heat race with the issues we had. Luckily we got it all turned around because what could’ve been a really bad night was the best it could’ve been.”
Pierce’s victory headed off what could’ve been a stretch of racing ideal for second-in-points English to start a comeback in the tour’s $25,000 title chase. English outdueled Pierce to win the tour’s first visit to Tri-City on June 18, and Friday’s event led into three more nights of racing at tracks favorable to English in Clarksville (Tenn.) Speedway, Richmond (Ky.) Raceway and Lake Cumberland Speedway in Burnside, Ky.
But Pierce found Tri-City much to his liking by the time Friday’s feature rolled around and he didn’t give English or anyone else a chance to even sniff victory.
“This is a long week for us and to start the week off with two wins is awesome,” said Pierce, who triumph at Tri-City followed his Thursday night victory at Springfield (Mo.) Raceway. “That was like old Tri-City there to a T. When I grew up racing here, that’s just how it was. It just fit my driving style to a T.”
Second-starting Mitch McGrath of Waukesha, Wis., led the race’s first 11 laps before Pierce roared by with a hard charge into turn three on lap 12. McGrath faded from there, ending up a lap down in seventh.
The tour heads to Clarksville on Saturday for a $10,000-to-win event before invading Kentucky on Sunday and Monday for $5,000-to-win events at Richmond and Lake Cumberland.
Notes: The 40-lap race ran caution-free and took just over 11 minutes to complete. … Pierce dedicated his victory to Easton Crady, a young fan from the area who died earlier in the week. … Pierce’s previous Summer Nationals victories at Tri-City came in 2020 and 2016. … The B-main was a bit of a mess at the finish with the white flag appearing twice, once with three laps to go and again with one lap to go. Drivers appeared to let off the gas with two laps to go, thinking they'd taken the checkers, but eventually got back up to speed. Billy Laycock won the consy with Daryn Klein, who led most of the way, getting into the wall in turns three and four before the first white flag appeared.
Row 1: Ryan Unzicker, Mitch McGrath
Row 2: Shannon Babb, Tanner English
Row 3: Bobby Pierce, Ashton Winger
Row 4: Mason Oberkramer, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 5: Dane Dacus, Joe Godsey
Row 6: Darrell Lanigan, Gordy Gundaker
Row 7: Brent McKinnon, Allen Murray
Row 8: Logan Martin, Charlie Cole
Row 9: Billy Laycock, Kyle Hammer
Row 10: Jeff Roth, Rusty Griffaw
Row 11: Daryn Klein, Brandon Lance
Row 12: Trevor Gundaker
Consolation race results
B-main (12 laps; top two transfer): Billy Laycock, Kyle Hammer, Trevor Gundaker, Claude Walker, Steve Stultz, Kaeden Cornell, Reid Millard, Kayden Clatt, Matt Zimmerly, Josh Heuiser, Daryn Klein, Thomas Hunziker, Jeff Roth, Mark Voigt. Scratched: Dewayne Kiefer, Rusty Griffaw.
C-main (10 laps; top four transfer): Kaeden Cornell, Claude Walker, Rusty Griffaw, Josh Heuiser, Brandon Lance, Blake Bailey, Brandon King, Mike Fenton. Scratched: Tim Lance, Tim Lance Jr.
Tri-City is just the second track in tour history to host two non-consecutive events in the same season. Fairbury (Ill.) Speedway did it last season. ... Fast qualifier and third heat winner Shannon Babb is back on the tour for the first time since his 100th tour victory at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway. A victory at Tri-City would also be a milestone victory as it would break his tie with Billy Moyer as the winningest all-time series driver. .. In tribute to the Wallace family at the Russ Wallace Memorial, brothers Gordy and Trevor Gundaker drove No. 6 and No. 7 throwback cars. ... The second heat was the lone heat with caution flags (besides called-back starts), all three on the sixth lap. Reid Millard got sideways into turn one for caution, then Jeff Roth and Matt Zimmerly were part of a caution on the restart. Millard spun again in turn four for the final yellow. ... Tim Lance Jr. was entered but never hit the track for a competitive lap at Tri-City; the team didn't have equipment to make repairs after the previous night's rollover accident at Springfield (Mo.) Raceway. ... The series has officially added Highland (Ill.) Speedway's makeup event for Aug. 13, the night before a previously announced makeup event at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo. Both events pay $10,000-to-win.
Heat race results
(10 laps; top four transfer)
First heat: Tanner English, Bobby Pierce, Dane Dacus, Brent McKinnon, Trevor Gundaker, Dewayne Kiefer, Kayden Clatt, Josh Heuiser, Brandon Lance.
Second heat: Mitch McGrath, Mason Oberkramer, Darrell Lanigan, Logan Martin, Jeff Roth, Matt Zimmerly, Reid Millard, Rusty Griffaw, Blake Bailey.
Third heat: Shannon Babb, Ashton Winger, Allen Murray, Joe Godsey, Daryn Klein, Billy Laycock, Steve Stultz, Kaeden Cornell, Brandon King.
Fourth heat: Ryan Unzicker, Dennis Erb Jr., Gordy Gundaker, Charlie Cole, Mark Voigt, Kyle Hammer, Thomas Hunziker, Claude Walker, Mike Fenton.
Driver (car no.), hometown
- Tanner English (81E), Benton, Ky., 14.683
- Mitch McGrath (74), Waukesha, Wis., 14.707
- Dane Dacus (54), Lakeland, Tenn., 14.760
- Darrell Lanigan (29), Union, Ky., 14.783
- Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 14.803
- Logan Martin (36), West Plains, Mo., 14.843
- Dewayne Kiefer (0), Bloomsdale, Mo., 14.989
- Jeff Roth (14R), Bentonville, Ark., 14.998
- Brent McKinnon (26M), Carlyle, Ill., 15.041
- Mason Oberkramer (93), Broseley, Mo., 15.091
- Trevor Gundaker (7), St. Charles, Mo., 15.183
- Rusty Griffaw (16), Festus, Mo., 15.317
- Kayden Clatt (50c), Edina, Mo., 15.556
- Reid Millard (14R), Jefferson City, Mo., 15.643
- Brandon Lance (248), Brimfield, Ill., 15.943
- Matt Zimmerly (26), Hillsboro, Mo., 16.147
- Josh Heuiser (1H), St. Jacob, Ill., 16.417
- Blake Bailey (11B), Bunker Hill, Ill., 16.685
- Tim Lance Jr. (148), Brimfield, Ill., no time
- Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 14.642
- Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 14.767
- Ashton Winger (12), Hampton, Ga., 14.815
- Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 14.961
- Allen Murray (2), San Antonio, Texas, 15.045
- Gordy Gundaker (8), St. Charles, Mo., 15.073
- Billy Laycock (82), Marine, Ill., 15.088
- Charlie Cole (2), Wynne, Ark., 15.204
- Thomas Hunziker (38), Bend, Ore., 15.311
- Daryn Klein (33), Fairview Heights, Ill., 15.387
- Mark Voigt (30), Marine, Ill., 15.399
- Joe Godsey (14G), Edinburgh, Ind., 15.399
- Tim Lance (48), Brimfield, Ill., 15.518
- Claude Walker (35), Moro, Ill., 15.540
- Steve Stultz (78s), Peoria, Ariz., 15.558
- Kyle Hammer (45), Clinton, Ill., 15.647
- Kaeden Cornell (50), Willard, Mo., 15.787
- Mike Fenton (118), Oak Leaf, Texas, 16.672
- Brandon King (3K), Godfrey, Ill., 16.853
6:30 p.m. - Drivers' meeting
7 p.m. - On-track activity
- Late Model hot laps
- Modified hot laps/time trials
- Late Model hot laps (2 laps)
- B-mod hot laps
- Late Model heat races (10 laps)
- Modified heat races (8 laps)
- B-mod heat races
- Late Model consolation (10 laps)
- Modified B-main
- B-mod B-main
- Late Model feature (40 laps)
- Modified feature (25 laps)
- B-mod feature