BARBERVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 16) — Bobby Pierce relentlessly pursued race-long leader Brandon Overton for 26 laps during Thursday’s 30-lap World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series feature at Volusia Speedway Park in hopes that the superstar from Evans, Ga., might just do the unthinkable — make a mistake.
From the time fourth-starting Pierce maneuvered his red and gray Longhorn machine into second place on lap four, the Oakwood, Ill., driver — no slouch in his own right with a 2016 World 100 victory and five DIRTcar Summer Nationals crowns to his credit — concentrated on hitting his marks while keeping Overton in his sights.
He chased Overton. He chased his fifth career World of Outlaws victory. And he chased a bit of redemption after a pair of dismal performances (25th and 17th) during the season-opening WoO Sunshine Nationals at Volusia in January. On the final lap of 30, all were delivered.
Overton moved up and Pierce went by, taking the lead on the final circuit and then hanging on to finish 0.145 of a second ahead of Overton, who led the first 29 laps from the pole position. For leading just the final lap, Pierce earned $10,000, his third victory of the season and his second career Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals main event at Volusia.
“I know whoever was in third was catching me,” Pierce said. “I didn't know what we were going to do. I started getting lower over there and I got better. (Overton) caught that lapped traffic and it messed him up a little bit, but that bit me twice this week so far, so (I) don't feel too bad.
"It might not have been the cleanest coming to the checkered, but I was like, ‘I got to get up and block whatever might be coming.’ So huge thanks to Brandon (for racing clean). It was a hell of a race. It was a lot of fun.”
Sixth-starting Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., had a good view of the last-lap battle on his way to third-place, his eighth podium finish during the 2023 Georgia-Florida Speedweeks. Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., started alongside Overton on the front row and finished fourth, while Martinsville, Ind.’s Hudson O’Neal improved two spots to continue his strong Speedweeks with a fifth-place finish.
“This track really, really came around,” Pierce said. “I know I kind of dogged it (Wednesday), but they really figured it out. I think (turns) three and four was there too, I just didn't want to abuse my tires too much to try it, but I think the top was there.
"What a heck of a race again. I can't thank my crew enough. They really work their butts off, working late and getting up early and getting what they need done so we can focus on what we need to do.”
All Pierce could do Thursday was patiently stalk Overton, which wasn’t as easy at it sounds. Trying to live up to his Smooth Operator moniker, Pierce slipped slightly out of his comfort zone and circled the bottom of Volusia’s big half-mile, D-shaped track. If he messed up, he tried to recall the advice of Jeff Leka, the Buffalo, Ill., modified driver and Pierce confidant who came down to volunteer his services in the pits for a few days.
“I think with about 10 laps to go … I looked up and there was 10 to go … and I thought there was like three to go,” Pierce said. “I was like, 'Well, we got to keep the tires under us a little bit more before I really push it.' I normally don't run the bottom like that. It's pretty nice down there, but it takes a lot of focus to hit your marks.
“One time I would miss it and I would talk to myself and say, ‘Man, you can't do that again.’ I talked to Jeff Leka and he told me, ‘Man you’ve won here before … just think about what you know how to do to win the race.’ That thought crossed my mind again and I dug down a little deeper and found something else. Once again, a heck of a race and a really great racetrack.”
Overton, however, would have likely settled for a yawner. He led Pierce by 2.406 seconds when Pierce first grabbed second from Junghans. But Pierce chipped away at the lead throughout the caution-free affair until finally, he’d trimmed the deficit to less than a half second with five laps remaining. Hampered by heavy lapped traffic over the final eight circuits, Overton simply couldn’t maintain his advantage.
“I think our car was still good. I just ... the guys in front of you dictate where you're going and I just made a (bad) move,” said Overton, the sound of disappointment in his voice bellowing through the speedway’s PA system. “It is what it is. I shouldn't have got off the bottom, gave up the bottom. But I felt like we were going so slow (that) somebody had to at least try to go around me on the top, so yeah, (bad) decision. Congrats to Bobby he did good. We'll take it and go on to tomorrow.”
Overton tried to put the loss into perspective, especially considering he himself nosed out Ricky Thornton Jr. with a last-lap pass to win Jan. 28 at Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Ga. But it was still difficult.
“It just sucks. But I guess that's how everything works,” Overton said. “I beat Ricky (Thornton Jr.) the other night and won $25,000 because of lapped traffic, and lose ($10,000) tonight because of lapped traffic. It's racing. You just got to make better decisions. That's just the way our racing is right now. We either got to get way better in traffic or do something about it.”
Watching all the action from not too far behind, McCreadie seemed pleased with another solid Speedweeks effort. He said he may have been able to make a few different moves earlier in the race to help, but there was not much he could do late.
“We were right there with the lead pack the whole time,” McCreadie said. “If you rewind the race for me, you try to get by these guys as quick as possible because once they get a rhythm and they understand where the track needs to be, they don't vary unless the caution comes out. I had Bobby once off of (turn) two and I was on the outside of Chase (Junghans) and I thought for sure he was going to run the middle like he did the lap before and he just arced out and I was beside him.
“Nothing happened, but it let Bobby squeeze by us and that put me behind him and I just kind of circled behind Bobby most of the race. I tried burning the cushion down there for a little bit ... just wasn't good enough. I needed some more traffic but will take it for this team and move on to tomorrow."
Row 1: Brandon Overton, Chase Junghans
Row 2: Dale McDowell, Bobby Pierce
Row 3: Brian Shirley, Tim McCreadie
Row 4: Hudson O’Neal, Kyle Strickler
Row 5: Max Blair, Jonathan Davenport
Row 6: Dennis Erb Jr., Gordy Gundaker
Row 7: Nick Hoffman, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Row 8: Devin Moran, Mason Zeigler
Row 9: Kyle Bronson, Daulton Wilson
Row 10: Mark Whitener, Ryan Gustin
Row 11: Michael Norris, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 12: Chris Madden, Johnny Scott
Row 13: Brandon Sheppard, Tanner English
Row 14: Payton Freeman, Shane Clanton
Row 15: Brent Larson
(10 laps; top two transfer)
First consolation finish: Mark Whitener, Frank Heckenast Jr., Brent Larson, Boom Briggs, Jimmy Owens, Cade Dillard, Hunt Gossum, Freddie Carpenter, Brian Booze, Mike Benedum, Reid Millard (DNS) Blake Spencer, Ashton Winger.
Second consolation finish: Ryan Gustin, Chris Madden, Shane Clanton, Brandon Sheppard, Payton Freeman, Logan Martin, Dylan Thompson, Chase Osterhoff, Colton Flinner, Jordan Koehler (DNS) David Breazeale, Jason Sarver, Devin Gainey.
Third consolation finish: Michael Norris, Johnny Scott, Donny Schatz, Tyler Bruening, Blair Nothdurft, Mike Spatola, Todd Cooney, Brenden Smith, Trevor Gundaker, Stacy Boles, Dustin Walker, Tanner English.
(Eight laps; top three transfer)
First heat finish: Brandon Overton, Hudson O’Neal, Nick Hoffman, Mark Whitener, Brent Larson, Cade Dillard, Jimmy Owens, Mike Benedum, Freddie Carpenter, Reid Millard.
Second heat finish: Dale McDowell, Max Blair, Devin Moran, Frank Heckenast Jr., Boom Briggs, Hung Gossum, Brian Booze, Blake Spencer, Ashton Winger.
Third heat finish: Tim McCreadie, Dennis Erb Jr., Kyle Bronson, Chris Madden, Shane Clanton, Dylan Thompson, Jordan Koehler, Devin Gainey (DNS) David Breazeale.
Fourth heat finish: Brian Shirley, Kyle Strickler, Ricky Thornton Jr., Ryan Gustin, Brandon Sheppard, Jason Sarver, Payton Freeman, Chase Osterhoff, Colton Flinner, Logan Martin.
Fifth heat finish: Bobby Pierce, Jonathan Davenport, Mason Zeigler, Blair Nothdurft, Johnny Scott, Donny Schatz, Tyler Bruening, Trevor Gundaker, Stacy Boles.
Sixth heat finish: Chase Junghans, Gordy Gundaker, Daulton Wilson, Michael Norris, Mike Spatola, Tanner English, Todd Cooney, Brenden Smith, Dustin Walker.
Thursday brings the warmest weather of the week with temperatures reaching into the mid-80s under partly cloudy skies. … A week-high roster of 56 cars is signed in for the first of three consecutive World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series programs to close the Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals. … Making their first starts this week are Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., who last raced at Volusia in 2020 and owns just a single victory at the track (2018 DNC opener sanctioned by DIRTcar), and Freddie Carpenter of Parkersburg, W.Va. … Kenny Kenneda conducted Thursday’s drivers’ meeting in his expanded role as the tour’s race director alongside his technical director duties. “Bear with me,” he told the racers, “this is my first meeting in a long, long time.” … Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., will make WoO history if he starts Thursday’s feature; his 644th series starts will move him ahead of York, Pa.’s Rick Eckert as the tour’s all-time leader in the category. … Second-year WoO regular Tanner English of Benton, Ky., experienced a rough outing in Wednesday’s first 20-lap feature, falling all the way to the rear of the field on the opening lap when he checked up to avoid slowing cars ahead of him and slipped over the turn-two cushion before getting back up to speed. … Mark Whitener of Middleburg, Fla., expressed doubt earlier in the week that he would enter more than a couple nights of action because his self-owned car’s motor was nearly lapped out, but he’s back for a fourth straight night of competition parked alongside his buddies Kyle Bronson of Brandon, Fla., and Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill. He’s ready to go after retiring from Wednesday’s first feature when his powerplant overheated and pushed out some water. … After a solid fourth-place finish in Wednesday’s second feature, Mason Zeigler of Chalk Hill, Pa., will run Thursday’s show after changing his Barry Wright Race Car’s engine to “go bigger” in the power department, according to crew member Bryan Liverman. … Devin Moran of Dresden, Ohio, who won last month’s two WoO features during the Sunshine Nationals at Volusia, will shoot for a third in a row on his crewman Chuck Kimble’s birthday. Moran’s Double Down Motorsports team owner, Roger Sellers, brought a birthday cake to the track to celebrate Kimble’s birthday. … Notable from Wednesday night’s results: the crew chiefs of feature winners Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., and Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., are brothers — Scott Fegter with McCreadie, Kent Fegter with Overton.
1. Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., 15.902
2. Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 16.110
3. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 16.212
4. Nick Hoffman (9), Mooresville, N.C., 16.223
5. Ashton Winger (12), Hampton, Ga., 16.230
6. Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.243
7. Hudson O'Neal (1), Martinsville, Ind., 16.267
8. Max Blair (111B), Centerville, Pa., 16.331
9. Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 16.334
10. Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 16.354
11. Frank Heckenast Jr. (99Jr), Frankfort, Ill., 16.382
12. Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 16.457
13. Mark Whitener (5), Middleburg, Fla., 16.504
14. Devin Moran (99), Dresden, Ohio, 16.520
15. Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 16.548
16. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.620
17. Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.698
18. Dylan Thompson (99T), Paducah, Ky., 16.733
19. Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 16.777
20. Hunt Gossum (99G), Mayfield, Ky., 16.784
21. Nevin Gainey (01G), Ft. White, Fla., 16.833
22. Freddie Carpenter (C4), Parkersburg, W.Va., 16.852
23. Brian Booze (B2), Greencastle, Pa., 16.887
24. David Breazeale (54), Four Corners, Miss., 16.889
25. Mike Benedum (25), Salem, W.Va., 17.009
26. Blake Spencer (6S), St. Augustine, Fla., 17.128
27. Jordan Koehler (114) Mount Airy, N.C., no time
28. Reid Millard (14R), Jefferson City, Mo., no time
1. Brian Shirley (8), Chatham, Ill., 16.194
2. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 16.220
3. Gordy Gundaker (11G), St. Charles, Mo., 16.290
4. Brandon Sheppard (b5), New Berlin, Ill., 16.298
5. Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 16.370
6. Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 16.375
7. Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 16.397
8. Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 16.411
9. Todd Cooney (30), Des Moines, Iowa, 16.412
10. Kyle Strickler (8), Mooresville, N.C., 16.495
11. Blair Nothdurft (76), Sioux Falls, S.D., 16.544
12. Daulton Wilson (18D), Fayetteville, N.C., 16.545
13. Logan Martin (36), West Plains, Mo., 16.640
14. Donny Schatz (15), Fargo, N.D., 16.645
15. Michael Norris (10), Sarver, Pa., 16.654
16. Payton Freeman (22*), Commerce, Ga., 16.662
17. Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 16.686
18. Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill., 16.765
19. Ryan Gustin (19R), Marshalltown, Iowa, 16.798
20. Johnny Scott (1ST), Las Cruces, N.M., 16.804
21. Tanner English (96V), Benton, Ky., 16.838
22. Jason Garver (01), Starke, Fla., 16.890
23. Stacy Boles (11B), Clinton, Tenn., 16.897
24. Brenden Smith (17SS), Dade City, Fla., 17.011
25. Chase Osterhoff (130), Kankakee, Ill., 17.278
26. Trevor Gundaker (14G), St. Charles, Mo., 17.311
27. Dustin Walker (14W), Peculiar, Mo., 17.356
28. Colton Flinner (48), Allison Park, Pa., 17.362
(All times local)
1 p.m.: Pits open
4:30 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
5 p.m. Grandstands open
5:30 p.m.: Hot laps
- Big-block modifieds
- Super Late Models
- Big-block modifieds
- Super Late Models
6:50 p.m.: Opening ceremonies
7 p.m.: Heat races
- Big-block modifieds (8 laps)
- Super Late Models (8 laps)
- Big-block modifieds (10 laps)
- Super Late Models (10 laps)
- Big-block modifieds (30 laps)
- Super Late Models (30 laps)