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Daily Dirt 02/23/2024 17:56:12

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August 12
Florence Speedway,
Union, KY
Sanction: Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (Sunoco North-South 100) - $75,000
Information provided by: Todd Turner, series and track reports (last updated August 13, 5:22 am)
Pierce earns $75,000 in epic North-South sweep
Sunoco North-South 100
  1. Bobby Pierce
  2. Ricky Thornton Jr.
  3. Hudson O'Neal
  4. Jonathan Davenport
  5. Daulton Wilson
  6. Chris Ferguson
  7. Earl Pearson Jr.
  8. Devin Moran
  9. Max Blair
  10. Kyle Bronson
  11. Dale McDowell
  12. Garrett Alberson
  13. Tim McCreadie
  14. Spencer Hughes
  15. Brandon Overton
  16. Dustin Nobbe
  17. Josh Rice
  18. Jimmy Owens
  19. Tyler Erb
  20. Cory Hedgecock
  21. Adam Stricker
  22. Garrett Smith
  23. Ryan Gustin
  24. Brian Shirley
  25. Donald McIntosh
  26. Stormy Scott
  27. Tyler Bruening
  28. Ross Robinson
  29. Robby Hensley
presented by
Heath Lawson/heathlawsonphotos.com
Bobby Pierce celebrates his $75,000 victory and three-race sweep.
What won the race: Completing an epic sweep of the weekend, Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., overtook Hudson O’Neal for the lead on lap 81 and fended off Ricky Thornton Jr.’s in the final laps to capture Saturday night’s 41st annual Sunoco North-South 100 presented by Lucas Oil at Florence Speedway. Pierce lost the lead to Thornton on a lap-87 restart but regained command on the 90th circuit en route to claiming the $75,000 top prize by 2.019 seconds over Thornton.
Key notes: The victory was Pierce’s seventh overall in August and his third full-field win in Lucas Oil Series competition this season. … Thornton charged from the 23rd starting spot to lead laps 88-89, but Pierce’s slider through turns three and four — a move that Pierce apologized for making afterward — put RTJ back to second and he stayed there for the remainder of the distance. … Hudson O’Neal led laps 22-80 but settled for a third-place finish. … Spencer Hughes led the race’s first lap but finished 14th while Jimmy Owens paced laps 2-21 before fading to 18th in the final rundown. … Kyle Strickler took the lead on lap seven of Saturday's non-qualifier's race and cruised to collect the $2,000 prize, winning by 5.166 seconds over Michael Chilton. Matt Cosner led the first six laps before fading to settle for third.
On the move: Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., started 23rd and finished second.
Winner's sponsors: Pierce’s Longhorn Chassis is powered by a Vic Hill Racing Engine and sponsored by Hoker Trucking, Mesilla Valley Transportation, Cajun Pools & Spas, Bloomington Normal Truck Performance, Carnaghi Towing & Repair, Floyd’s Waste Systems, Vic Hill Race Engines, Swift Springs, Bilstein Shocks, Toyota of Danville, Ted Brown’s Quality Paint and Body Shop, Extreme Electric, Fast1 Speed Shop, Performance Bodies, A Plus Vacuum, Lekg Tree Service, Bert Transmission by Budda, Velocita-USA, Robert and Sons Aluminum, VP Racing Fuels and FK Rod Ends.
Points chase: After Florence: 1. Ricky Thornton Jr. (5,770); 2. Hudson O’Neal (5,440); 3. Jonathan Davenport (5,135); 4. Brandon Overton (5,045); 5. Tim McCreadie (5,030); 6. Devin Moran (4,965); 7. Daulton Wilson (4,585); 8. Max Blair (4,570); 9. Tyler Erb (4,535); 10. Earl Pearson Jr. (4,525); 11. Spencer Hughes (4,385); 12. Garrett Alberson (4,340).
Current weather: Scattered Clouds, 81°F
Car count: 61
Fast qualifier: Michael Chilton
Time: 15.229 seconds
Polesitter: Jimmy Owens
Heat race winners: Jimmy Owens, Spencer Hughes, Hudson O'Neal, Dale McDowell, Josh Rice, Cory Hedgecock
Consolation race winners: Donald McIntosh, Earl Pearson Jr.
Provisional starters: Ricky Thornton Jr., Tim McCreadie, Tyler Erb, Garrett Alberson, Tyler Bruening, Ross Robinson
Next series race: August 18, Batesville Motor Speedway (Locust Grove, AR) $5,000
Editor's note: Results and race details are unofficial.
From staff reports

UNION, Ky. (Aug. 12) — Bobby Pierce was right where he wanted to be as Saturday's 41st annual Sunoco North-South 100 presented by Lucas Oil was winding down. Then he made a terrible mistake as he led the field to the green flag on a lap-87 restart at Florence Speedway.

“Oh, man, I stepped on it good there,” Pierce said. “I thought the top would be great on exit and I spun the wheels.”

Pierce, 26, of Oakwood, Ill., ceded the lead he had worked so hard to grab from Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., on lap 81, allowing Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz. — the race’s 23rd starter — to dart by and assume command as lap 88 was scored. But Pierce regained the lead on lap 90 with a slider he admitted was a bit rough and went on to capture the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series-sanctioned crown jewel and its $75,000 top prize for the second time in his career.

There was a slightly subdued demeanor to Pierce as he spoke about the race’s deciding swing between laps 87 and 90, but he still wore a big smile after beating Thornton by 2.019 seconds to complete an epic sweep of the North-South 100 weekend. He also won 25-lap semifeatures worth $5,000 apiece on Thursday and Friday.

“I would’ve never had to dirty Ricky up a little bit if I didn’t do that (restart misstep),” said Pierce, who previously won the North-South 100 in 2016 as a 19-year-old. “I gotta apologize to him. I wasn’t quite clear. I didn’t really complete the slider. Then we got side-by-side, drag-raced down the frontstretch … I had to work for that one. That was tough.”

Indeed, Pierce continued his sizzling August — Saturday marked his seventh overall victory just 12 days into the month — after starting 13th. He marched forward to second place by lap 43, then chased the 22-year-old O’Neal, who started third and overtook Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., for the lead on lap 22, until finally pulling a slider amid lapped traffic to move in front on lap 81.

O’Neal lost second to Thornton moments later and briefly fell to fourth before settling for a third-place finish after leading laps 22-80 in the Rocket Chassis house car. Defending North-South 100 champion Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., who started 16th, gave up third to O’Neal on lap 94 and placed fourth while Daulton Wilson of Fayetteville, N.C., completed the top five after taking the green flag from 17th in his second career start in the event.

Other leaders were Spencer Hughes of Meridian, Miss., who paced the first lap but faded to a 14th-place finish, and Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., who led laps 2-21 before slipping to 18th — the last driver on the lead lap — in the final rundown.

Pierce wasn’t thrilled to find himself starting mid-pack — a fate he attributed to the event’s heat-race invert, which forced him to start fourth in Saturday’s first heat after he accumulated the most points in the pair of preliminary programs. He was only able to pick up one spot in his heat with passing difficult, finishing third to grab the final transfer position.

“I actually tweeted to (Florence promoter) Josh (King) earlier — I’m sure he saw it — I said, ‘Can we change it up next year because the the invert’s tough?” Pierce said. “But everyone had to do it, we knew it going into it.”

Pierce added that he thought “what they did earlier with the heat races made it a great racetrack for the feature. The racetrack was perfect for the feature.”

And Pierce came to like the spot that he started.

“I know sometimes 13 is a bad number, it can be unlucky,” he said, “but tonight it was our lucky number.”

That didn’t mean Pierce’s march to the front was uneventful. On lap 36, in fact, he was involved in a scrape with fifth-place Chris Ferguson that sent the Mount Holly, N.C., driver spinning in turn one to bring out the race’s first caution flag.

“Me and Chris got into it on the frontstretch there,” Pierce said. “We just got tangled up where it got narrow so I apologize to him, too.”

Pierce asserted that he had “just an awesome car, an awesome piece to drive,” as he glanced as his Longhorn Chassis. But his car’s speed almost didn’t matter because of his slip on the lap-87 restart.

As the No. 1-ranked driver in DirtonDirt.com’s Top 25 poll, though, Pierce found a way to get back past Thornton on lap 90. His slider crowded Thornton in turn four, but the two drivers didn’t come together and Pierce was able to emerge with the lead for good.

“I thought that was it,” Pierce said of losing the lead on the lap-87 restart. “(The ensuing laps) reminded me of the very first time I won an Outlaw race … I led till the very end, a two-lap (to go) restart, (Cade) Dillard passed me, and I just flipped the switch and went crazy-mode (to regain command).

“I didn’t know if the top was still left over there in turn one. That’s what let me get that bite (off turn two).”

Pierce just let it all hang out in the final laps to emerge triumphant.

“I was a little more old school right there,” Pierce said. “I didn’t have points on the line or anything like that. It was 75-grand to win, 20-grand for second … I was just sending it and seeing what would happen.

“This is my second biggest win of my career (money-wise) I think, so this is cool.”

The 32-year-old Thornton accepted his $20,000 runner-up finish, though he wasn’t exactly pleased with the way he lost the lead.

“He was definitely driving aggressive,” said Thornton, who registered a career-best North-South 100 finish in his fourth stab at the race. “We’ve always run each other pretty clean … I feel like that was the cleanest dirty slider he’s thrown me. We didn’t hit or nothing, so we’ll move on and we’ll put that one in the memory bank.

“Congrats to him. He ran a good race. You could tell he was just kind of riding second there behind Hud, and once I showed him a nose he made sure he got by him.”

Thornton wished that the 4/10-mile oval’s cushion wasn’t as good as it ended up being to the end.

“I was able to get by Hud and just try to run as hard as I could without knocking the fence down,” Thornton said. “It seems like here lately these deals get that big curb against the wall, but without that I think we had a really good car.”

O’Neal looked like a first-time North-South 100 winner for much of the distance but couldn’t maintain his strength to the finish.

“I just got a little too tight right there at the end — really the middle of that race — and then I was just a little tight against the cushion,” said O’Neal, who fell one spot short of his career-best North-South 100 finish of second in 2019. “But all in all, we had a good run and I felt like we made progress here all weekend. We just kept getting a little bit better. I’m looking forward to going to Batesville (for the Topless 100) next week.

“These seconds and thirds are piling up,” he added. “It’s our turn one of these times. I just gotta figure out when.”

Seven caution flags slowed the race. The first came on lap 36 for the turn-one spin by Ferguson, who rallied to finish sixth. A multi-car tangle in turn four brought out the caution on lap 37 and Donald McIntosh tossed a left-rear wheel on lap 40. Kyle Bronson slowed with a flat tire while 10th on lap 58, then two cautions flew for debris on the track: Josh Rice, who ran as high as third, lost his car’s right-front flopper on lap 84 and Kyle Bronson shed a piece of bodywork on lap 87. Two-time North-South 100 winner Tim McCreadie brought out the final yellow flag when he slowed on the backstretch on lap 91 after climbing as high as sixth from the 24th starting spot.

Notes: Pierce became the 12th driver to win the North-South 100 at least twice. … It was Pierce’s third full-field Lucas Oil Series victory of 2023 and the 15th of his career on the national tour. … Pierce leads the World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series points standings while Thornton sits atop the Lucas Oil Series standings. … With a threat of rain looming, series and track officials rushed the feature field onto the track after the B-mains and didn’t do a four-wide parade lap to hasten the start of the race. While some sprinkles fell during the lap-36 caution period, the rain stayed away and the feature ended at 11:19 p.m. … Kyle Strickler took the lead on lap seven of Saturday's non-qualifier's race and cruised to collect the $2,000 prize, winning by 5.166 seconds over Michael Chilton. Matt Cosner led the first six laps before fading to settle for third.

41st annual Sunoco North-South 100 presented by Lucas Oil
Pos. Driver (car no.), hometown, chassis, earnings
1. Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., Longhorn, $75,000
2. Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., Longhorn, $20,000
3. Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., Rocket, $10,000
4. Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., Longhorn, $9,000
5. Daulton Wilson (18D), Fayetteville, N.C., Longhorn, $8,000
6. Chris Ferguson (22), Mount Holly, N.C., Team Zero, $7,000
7. Earl Pearson Jr. (46), Jacksonville, Fla., Longhorn, $6,000
8. Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, Longhorn, $5,000
9. Max Blair (111), Centerville, Pa., Rocket, $4,500
10. Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., Rocket, $4,000
11. Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., Team Zero, $3,500
12. Garrett Alberson (58), Las Cruces, N.M., Longhorn, $750
13. Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., Longhorn, $3,000
14. Spencer Hughes (11), Meridian, Miss., Longhorn, $2,750
15. Brandon Overton (76), Evans, Ga., Longhorn, $2,700
16. Dustin Nobbe (5N), Batesville, Ind., Rocket, $2,650
17. Josh Rice (11), Verona, Ky., Rocket, $2,600
18. Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., Rocket, $2,575
19. Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, Rocket, $50
20. Cory Hedgecock (23), Loudon, Tenn., BMF, $2,525
21. Adam Stricker (68), Batavia, Ohio, MasterSbilt, $2,500
22. Garrett Smith (10), Eatonton, Ga., Rocket, $2,500
23. Ryan Gustin (19r), Marshalltown, Iowa, Rocket, $2,500
24. Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., Rocket, $2,500
25. Donald McIntosh (79), Dawsonville, Ga., Double Nickel, $2,500
26. Stormy Scott (2s), Las Cruces, N.M., Longhorn, $2,500
27. Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, Capital, $0
28. Ross Robinson (7), Georgetown, Del., Rocket, $0
29. Robby Hensley (21), Walton, Ky., Rocket, $2,500
Lap leaders: Hughes 1; Owens 2-21; O’Neal 22-80; Pierce 81-87, 90-100; Thornton 88-89
Fast qualifier (among 61 cars): Michael Chilton, 15.229 seconds
Heat race winners: Owens, Hughes, O’Neal, McDowell, Rice, Hedgecock
Consolation race winners: McIntosh, Pearson
Provisional starters: Thornton, McCreadie, Erb, Alberson, Bruening, Roberson
Non-qualifiers’ race winner: Kyle Strickler
Aug. 10 semifeature winners: Pierce, Marlar
Aug. 11 semifeature winners: Thornton, Pierce

Non-qualifier race results

Finish (winner $2,000): Kyle Strickler, Michael Chilton, Matt Cosner, Tristan Chamberlain, Trevor Landrum, Kye Blight, Vic Hill, David Breazeale, Jesse Lay, Brent Cornette, Jason Jameson, Blake Creech, Jim Couch, Austin Lay, James Rice, Logan Zarin. Scratched: Mike Marlar, Boom Briggs, Eddie Carrier Jr., Brandon Hardgrove.

Feature lineup

(100 laps)
Row 1: Jimmy Owens, Spencer Hughes
Row 2: Hudson O'Neal, Dale McDowell
Row 3: Josh Rice, Cory Hedgecock
Row 4: Kyle Bronson, Garrett Smith
Row 5: Ryan Gustin, Chris Ferguson
Row 6: Brandon Overton, Stormy Scott
Row 7: Bobby Pierce, Devin Moran
Row 8: Daulton Wilson, Jonathan Davenport
Row 9: Max Blair, Robby Hensley
Row 10: Donald McIntosh, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 11: Brian Shirley, Adam Stricker
Row 12: Ricky Thornton Jr., Tim McCreadie
Row 13: Tyler Erb, Garrett Alberson
Row 14: Tyler Bruening, Ross Robinson
Row 15: Dustin Nobbe

Consolation race results

(12 laps; top two transfer)
First consolation: 
Donald McIntosh, Brian Shirley, Ricky Thornton Jr., Mike Marlar, Michael Chilton, Kyle Strickler, Boom Briggs, Eddie Carrier Jr., Jesse Lay, James Rice, Garrett Alberson, Jason Jameson, Dustin Nobbe, Kye Blight, Brandon Hardgrove, Austin Lay, Donnie Jeschke, Tyler Bruening, Kent Robinson, Curt Addison. Scratched: Mike Harrison

Second consolation: Earl Pearson Jr., Adam Stricker, Matt Cosner, Ross Robinson, Vic Hill, Trevor Landrum, Tristan Chamberlain, David Breazeale, Blake Creech, Brent Cornette, Logan Zarin, Jim Couch, Tim McCreadie. Scratched: Tyler Erb, Dane Dacus, Kody Evans, Logan Roberson, Doug Drown

Consolation lineups

(12 laps; top two transfer)
First consolation
Row 1: Brian Shirley, Ricky Thornton Jr.
Row 2: Michael Chilton, Tyler Bruening
Row 3: Kyle Strickler, Boom Briggs
Row 4: Brandon Hardgrove, Mike Marlar
Row 5: Donald McIntosh, Eddie Carrier Jr.
Row 6: James Rice, Dustin Nobbe
Row 7: Jason Jameson, Kent Robinson
Row 8: Jesse Lay, Garrett Alberson
Row 9: Austin Lay, Mike Harrison
Row 10: Donnie Jeschke, Kye Blight
Row 11: Curt Addison
Second consolation
Row 1: Earl Pearson Jr., Matt Cosner
Row 2: Tristan Chamberlain, Adam Stricker
Row 3: Ross Robinson, Tim McCreadie
Row 4: Vic Hill, Brent Cornette
Row 5: Trevor Landrum, David Breazeale
Row 6: Logan Zarin, Jim Couch
Row 7: Blake Creech, Dane Dacus
Row 8: Tyler Erb, Kody Evans
Row 9: Logan Roberson, Doug Drown
Row 10: Mike Bargo, Jesse Wisecarver

Heat race recap

Jimmy Owens, Spencer Hughes and Hudson O’Neal won the first three heats virtually unchallenged after starting outside the front row. … Fourth heat winner Dale McDowell was the lone polesitting winner. … Josh Rice won the fifth heat flag-to-flag from outside the front row and Cory Hedgecock — the lone fourth starting driver to overcome the inversion with a heat victory — overtook Stormy Scott with two laps remaining to win the sixth heat. … Hedgecock's team worked in the pits replacing his car's water pump and fan after the heat. ... Fourth-starting Mike Marlar faded to finish sixth in heat two. ... The fifth heat (Josh Rice, Brandon Overton and Max Blair) was the only one where the top three starters transferred. ... Jonathan Davenport had a first-lap flat left-rear tire in the fourth heat but rallied back to finish third. … Logan Roberson was battling Matt Cosner for fourth in the fifth heat when he caught a piece of Cosner’s car on the frontstretch and went for a spin, likely ending his night. …  The biggest incident came in the sixth and final heat when three-time track champion Trevor Landrum came alive midrace and got underneath Tim McCreadie and then polesitter Tyler Erb, who was running third. Landrum and Erb made contact halfway down the backstretch, sending Landrum for a spin and collecting McCreadie while Erb’s car suffered race-dooming left-front damage (Landrum briefly went the wrong way on the track during the caution to show he wasn’t happy with Erb, and surely the feeling was mutual). ... In a fire drill after the heat, Kyle Bronson, Daulton Wilson, Ryan Gustin and Spencer Hughes were among competitors lending a hand to get Erb's heavily damaged car into shape along with Virginia racer Tyler Bare (on hand assisting Logan Roberson) and crew members from various teams. … Robby Hensley held off Tristan Chamberlain for third in the final heat to secure just his second North-South 100 start without using a provisional (the first came in 2012).

Heat race results

(10 laps; top three transfer)

First heat: Jimmy Owens, Kyle Bronson, Bobby Pierce, Brian Shirley, Tyler Bruening, Brandon Hardgrove, Eddie Carrier Jr., Jason Jameson, Garrett Alberson, Donnie Jeschke.

Second heat: Spencer Hughes, Garrett Smith, Devin Moran, Ricky Thornton Jr., Kyle Strickler, Mike Marlar, James Rice, Kent Robinson, Austin Lay. Scratched: Curt Addison

Third heat: Hudson O'Neal, Ryan Gustin, Daulton Wilson, Michael Chilton, Boom Briggs, Donald McIntosh, Dustin Nobbe, Jesse Lay, Mike Harrison, Kye Blight.

Fourth heat: Dale McDowell, Chris Ferguson, Jonathan Davenport, Earl Pearson Jr., Adam Stricker, Vic Hill, David Breazeale, Blake Creech, Kody Evans. Scratched: Mike Bargo

Fifth heat: Josh Rice, Brandon Overton, Max Blair, Matt Cosner, Ross Robinson, Brent Cornette, Logan Zarin, Dane Dacus, Logan Roberson, Doug Drown.

Sixth heat: Cory Hedgecock, Stormy Scott, Robby Hensley, Tristan Chamberlain, Tim McCreadie, Trevor Landrum, Jim Couch, Tyler Erb. Scratched: Jesse Wisecarver

Heat race lineups

(10 laps; top three transfer)

First heat
Row 1: Tyler Bruening, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Kyle Bronson, Bobby Pierce
Row 3: Garrett Alberson, Eddie Carrier Jr.
Row 4: Brian Shirley, Jason Jameson
Row 5: Brandon Hardgrove, Donnie Jeschke
Second heat
Row 1: Garrett Smith, Spencer Hughes
Row 2: Ricky Thornton Jr., Mike Marlar
Row 3: Devin Moran, Kyle Strickler
Row 4: Kent Robinson, James Rice
Row 5: Austin Lay, Curt Addison
Third heat
Row 1: Michael Chilton, Hudson O’Neal
Row 2: Daulton Wilson, Ryan Gustin
Row 3: Donald McIntosh, Kye Blight
Row 4: Mike Harrison, Dustin Nobbe
Row 5: Boom Briggs, Jesse Lay
Fourth heat
Row 1: Dale McDowell, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 2: Chris Ferguson, Jonathan Davenport
Row 3: Adam Stricker, David Breazeale
Row 4: Vic Hill, Kody Evans
Row 5: Blake Creech, Mike Fargo
Fifth heat
Row 1: Max Blair, Josh Rice
Row 2: Brandon Overton, Matt Cosner
Row 3: Logan Roberson, Ross Robinson
Row 4: Doug Drown, Dane Dacus
Row 5: Logan Zarin, Brent Cornette
Sixth heat
Row 1: Tyler Erb, Stormy Scott
Row 2: Tim McCreadie, Cory Hedgecock
Row 3: Trevor Landrum, Robby Hensley
Row 4: Jesse Wisecarver, Jim Couch
Row 5: Tristan Chamberlain

Saturday’s schedule

(All times local)
3 p.m. - All gates open
5 p.m. - Dirt Racing Outreach service
6:30 p.m. - Drivers' meeting
7 p.m. - On-track activity
- Late Model hot laps
- Modified hot laps
Opening ceremonies
- Late Model heat races (10 laps)
- Modified feature (30 laps)
- Late Model consolations (12 laps)
- 41st annual North-South 100 (100 laps)
- Late Model non-qualifiers' race (30 laps)

Feature lineup

Row 1: Owens, Hughes
Row 2: O'Neal, McDowell
Row 3: Jo. Rice, Hedgecock
Row 4: Bronson, Smith
Row 5: Gustin, Ch. Ferguson
Row 6: Overton, S. Scott
Row 7: Pierce, Moran
Row 8: Wilson, Davenport
Row 9: Blair, Hensley
Row 10: McIntosh, Pearson Jr.
Row 11: Shirley, Stricker
Row 12: Thornton Jr., McCreadie
Row 13: T. Erb, Alberson
Row 14: Bruening, R. Robinson
Row 15: Nobbe

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