VADO, N.M. — Lots of questions were rolling through Bobby Pierce’s mind before a two-lap shootout Friday at the conclusion of the fourth round of the Rio Grande Waste Services Wild West Shootout at Vado Speedway Park.
Could he snap Jonathan Davenport’s three-race winning streak? Could he grab his first career victory in a Longhorn Chassis? Could he earn $10,000 and fire the six-shooters in victory lane?
Instead of getting antsy behind the wheel, the 26-year-old Oakwood, Ill., driver made sure he didn’t get caught up in the moment.
The fifth-starting driver who overtook Davenport with an 18th-lap slide job at the 3/8-mile oval held on the final two laps to capture the 30-lapper, ending Davenport’s chances at the $300,000 Penske Racing Shocks Paydirt Jackpot and six-race sweep by taking the checkers 0.950 of a second ahead of the winner of the first three miniseries events.
The runner-up can still cash in on the bonus program Saturday and Sunday with a fourth victory, worth $25,000, or a fifth victory, worth $100,000.
Pole-starting Garrett Alberson of nearby Las Cruces, N.M., mixed it up with the frontrunners halfway through the 30-lapper and finished third while 20th-starting NASCAR star Kyle Larson of Elk Grove, Calif., and Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., rounded out the top five.
While Davenport had been the only driver to visit victory lane, Pierce’s Longhorn was strong in leading the most laps of the opener followed by third- and second-place finishes. Pierce's calming strategy Friday following a lap-29 caution for Dillon McCowan’s flat tire — an incident just in front of the leaders — helped him snap Davenport’s streak.
“I sat there on that restart with two (laps) to go, and I was like, ‘You know, it’s my race to lose,’ I thought to myself you know, it's definitely a win that I wanted. My first win in a Longhorn and J.D.’s been on a hot streak here,” Pierce said. “But I just thought to myself, just pretend that you're not racing for a big win. Just think you'll be in this situation many more times, racing for maybe a million dollars.”
While the stakes weren’t quite that high, Pierce was glad to get on track after an offseason switch from his family’s Pierce Race Car to the North Carolina-based Longhorn Chassis.
“I can't thank everybody enough for putting me in this position,” he said. “I just really hats off to everybody, whether it's the crew guys, sponsors, everyone helps me out. I was on the phone with Matt (Langston of Longhorn Chassis today and he) helped me get through these holes. We finally made the right call on the tires.”
While Davenport had to give up the black cowboy hat he’d worn three times in victory lane, the outside front-row starter took his hat off to Pierce for outrunning him on the high side.
"I just changed my line a little bit (after a lap-10 restart) and then I guess Bobby found the extreme high side, you know, there in (turns) one and two,” Davenport said. “Once I moved up there, I could keep pace with him, but it's just (that) sometimes it's better (to be running) second. But I ain't got no excuses. My guys gave me another great car again. Cory (Fostvedt), Vinny (Guliani) and Michael (Bixby) done a great job. I did the best I could. We just come up one spot short. But hey, we still run second. We can't hang your head about that.”
Besides the caution for McCowan’s flat, the only other slowdown came on the 10th lap when Kyle Beard, losing control with problems with his left-front wheel, got into the outside wall in a multicar tangle that also left Beard’s father-in-law Terry Phillips with significant damage; Justin Duty (retired) and Mikey Kile were among other drivers involved.
Fifth round action resumes Saturday with hot laps at 3:30 p.m. and heat races beginning at 5 p.m. with a $10,000-to-win Super Late Model feature highlighting the three-division program.
Notes: Pierce notched his first victory since a Dec. 1 preliminary feature victory indoors at the Castrol Gateway Dirt Nationals in St. Louis at the The Dome at America's Center. … NASCAR star Kyle Larson ran into trouble in heat action in a collision with the slower car of Trenton Jessen that send Jessen's car into a rollover; neither driver was injured but it cost Larson a runner-up spot to Bobby Pierce in the sixth heat. He rallied from 12th to win a consolation race and transfer to the main event, where he rallied to fourth from 20th. ... Garrett Alberson drew the pole position for the third time in four events and posted his first top-five finish on the miniseries for ‘23. … Third-heat winner Dustin Sorensen, new driver of the MB Customs house car, is 4-for-4 in transferring to features but transferred for the first time without having to run a consy. … Colorado driver Scott Lewis scratched for the night after time trials with engine problems; he’s making an engine swap for Saturday’s action. ... Deming, N.M's Merceces Abercrombie also scratched for the night. ... Friday's 51 entries was the most of the miniseries thus far this season.
Row 1: Garrett Alberson, Jonathan Davenport
Row 2: Billy Moyer, Brandon Sheppard
Row 3: Bobby Pierce, Dustin Sorensen
Row 4: Cade Dillard, Mike Marlar
Row 5: Mikey Kile, Tad Pospisil
Row 6: Dillon McCowan, Kyle Beard
Row 7: Ricky Weiss, Terry Phillips
Row 8: Tyler Erb, Rusty Schlenk
Row 9: Johnny Scott, Clayton Stuckey
Row 10: Stormy Scott, Kyle Larson
Row 11: Bill Leighton Jr., Don Shaw
Row 12: Justin Duty, Morgan Bagley
(10 laps, top three transfer)
First consolation: Stormy Scott, Bill Leighton Jr., Justin Duty, Preston Luckman, Jake Timm, Josh Cain, Collen Winebarger, Ian Whisler, Brandon Brzozowski, Steve Stultz, Devan Smith, Jeff Schildmeyer, Kent Rosevear, Brandon Lewis. Scratched; Mercedes Abercrombie, Scott Lewis, Walton Kyle Jr.
Second consolation: Kyle Larson, Don Shaw, Morgan Bagley, Rodney Sanders, Chris Hawkins, Jason Strand, Justin Mills, Thomas Hunziker, Jimmy Whisler, Cole Farmer, Dustin Holmes, Chris Simpson, Jon Kirby. Scratched: Trenton Jessen.
Heat race results
(Eight laps, top three transfer)
First heat: Jonathan Davenport, Cade Dillard, Ricky Weiss, Stormy Scott, Bill Leighton Jr., Jeff Schildmeyer, Steve Stultz, Kent Rosevear, Walton Kyle Jr.
Second heat: Billy Moyer, Mikey Kile, Tyler Erb, Justin Duty, Josh Cain, Brandon Lewis, Collen Winebarger. Scratched: Mercedes Abercrombie, Scott Lewis.
Third heat: Dustin Sorensen, Dillon McCowan, Johnny Scott, Preston Luckman, Jake Timm, Brandon Brzozowski, Ian Whisler, Devan Smith.
Fourth heat: Brandon Sheppard, Mike Marlar, Terry Phillips, Don Shaw, Morgan Bagley, Thomas Hunziker, Dustin Holmes, Terry Carter, Jimmy Whisler.
Fifth heat: Garrett Alberson, Tad Pospisil, Rusty Schlenk, Chris Simpson, Rodney Sanders, Justin Mills, Chris Hawkins, Cole Wells.
Sixth heat: Bobby Pierce, Kyle Beard, Clayton Stuckey, Jon Kirby, Jason Strand, Cole Farmer, Kyle Larson. Trenton Jessen.
Driver (car no.), hometown, time (unofficial)
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 14.177
Mikey Kyle (25), West Lake, La., 14.345
Dustin Sorensen (28), Rochester, Minn., 14.361
Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 14.396
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 14.409
Dillon McCowan (8), Urbana, Mo., 14.461
Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., 14.504
Justin Duty (15), Molalla, Ore., 14.586
Preston Luckman (77), Coos Bay, Ore., 14.603
Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 14.620
Collen Winebarger (14s), Corbett, Ore., 14.633
Johnny Scott (1st), Las Cruces, N.M., 14.672
Bill Leighton Jr. (24), La Vista, Neb., 14.803
Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, 14.820
Jake Timm (49), Winona, Minn., 14.843
Jeff Schildmeyer (19), Las Vegas, Nev., 14.850
Scott Lewis (99), Henderson, Colo., 14.859
Ian Whisler (82), Otis, Ore., 14.990
Kent Rosevear (02), Yuma, Ariz., 15.059
Brandon Brzozowski (10-4), LaVernia, Texas, 15.199
Steve Stultz (78s), Peoria, Ariz., 15.330
Josh Cain (3J), Rio Rancho, N.M., 15.393
Devan Smith (01), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.817
Walton Kyle Jr. (250), Las Cruces, N.M., 16.049
Brandon Lewis (44), Brighton, Colo., 16.521
Mercedes Abercrombie (29x), Deming, N.M., scratched
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 14.294
Garrett Alberson (58), Las Cruces, N.M., 14.310
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 14.317
Don Shaw (42S), Ham Lake, Minn., 14.406
Tad Pospisil (04), Norfolk, Neb., 14.451
Kyle Larson (6), Elk Grove, Calif., 14.476
Terry Phillips (75), Springfield, Mo., 14.490
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 14.526
Kyle Beard (86), Trumann, Ark., 14.542
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 14.597
Rusty Schlenk (91), McClure, Ohio, 14.659
Clayton Stuckey (15s), Shreveport, La., 14.682
Morgan Bagley (14m), Longview, Texas, 14.707
Rodney Sanders (20), Happy, Texas, 14.715
Jon Kirby (11), Russellville, Ark., 14.818
Thomas Hunziker (38), Bend, Ore., 14.958
Justin Mills (38m), Pineville, Mo., 14.977
Cole Farmer (26R), Glenwood, Ark., 15.032
Jimmy Whisler (28w), Olis, Ore., 15.137
Chris Hawkins (USA1), Neosho, Mo., 15.267
Jason Strand (E85), Portland, N.D., 15.353
Terry Carter (6T), Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, 15.455
Cole Wells (7c) Aurora, Mo., 15.486
Trenton Jessen (89J), Pineville, Mo., 16.811
Dustin Holmes (24H), Murfreesboro, Ark., no time
(All times local)
2 p.m.: Pits open
3:30 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
4 p.m.: Grandstands open
4:30 p.m.: Hot laps (by heat races)
- Super Late Models hot laps/time trials
5:55 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
6 p.m.: Heat races
- X-Mods (8 laps)
- Modifieds (8 or 10 laps)
- Super Late Models (8 laps)
- X-Mods (10 laps)
- Modifieds (10 laps)
- Super Late Models (10 laps)
- Super Late Models (30 laps)
- X-Mods (20 laps)
- Modifieds (25 laps)