Pierce collects $10,000 for first Hell Tour victory
By Joshua JoinerDirtonDirt.com staff writer
LINCOLN, Ill. (June 30) — Bobby Pierce made sure his first-ever UMP DIRTcar Summernationals victory was a convincing one.
Winning for the first time on the popular month-long Midwestern tour, Pierce, 16, of Oakwood, Ill., dominated Sunday’s Brandt 60 at Lincoln Speedway, building a nearly half-track lead on his way to earning $10,000 at the quarter-mile fairgrounds oval. | Complete Summernationals coverage
“We’ve been trying so hard to do this, getting top fives and coming close,” said Pierce, the teenage some of legendary Illinois racer and chassis builder Bob Pierce. “It’s so hard to win these things; you’ve got the best of the best. I’m so glad to finally get one. It’s amazing.”
Starting from the outside pole, Pierce took the lead from Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., on lap nine of the 60-lap race and cruised through the remaining distance. He topped former series champion Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., at the finish, becoming the youngest driver to ever win a Summernationals event.
Advancing from the 12th starting spot, O’Neal settled for second with series points leader Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., finishing third after starting from the pole and leading the first four laps of the race. Provisional starter Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., came from 19th to finish fourth with Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., rounding out the top five in a race slowed by just one caution.
While Pierce dominated the majority of the race, it was Babb who looked to have the best car during the early going. The three-time series champion roared from his sixth starting spot, rallying around Sheppard and Pierce for the lead on lap five.
But the low-running Pierce challenged back, moving by Sheppard for second on lap six and pulling alongside Babb the next circuit. The two drivers raced side by side for the next two laps with Pierce pulling ahead at the flag stand on lap nine.
Pierce cruised from there, opening a half-straightaway lead by the time he reached lapped traffic just before lap 15, then stretching it to a straightaway by lap 20 as he deftly worked his way through the slower cars.
Pierce had a close call on lap 24 when he got into the back of the slower car of Jason McBride in turn four, sending McBride spinning directly in front of him. But Pierce was able to sneak around McBride and maintained the lead.
After a brief challenge from Babb on the restart, Pierce once again flexed his muscle, building more than a straightaway advantage by the time O’Neal got by Babb for second on lap 38.
Pierce only increased his lead through the rest of the way, lapping all the way to the ninth spot as the second half of the race rain caution free.
Sunday’s race, the 12th on this year’s planned 31-race schedule, was the first in a stretch of six straight races in Illinois. After an off day on Monday, the tour moves to Quincy (Ill.) Raceway for a $5,000-to-win race on Tuesday.
Notes: Pierce’s Pierce Race Car has a Pro Power Racing engine and sponsorship from Champion Spark Plugs, Murphy Trucking, Petersen Aluminum, American Metal Supply Co. and Keyser Mfg. ... Pierce topped Brandon Sheppard for the tour’s youngest winner mark. Sheppard was 18 when he scored his first Summernationals victory, which also came at Lincoln in 2011. ... Pierce becomes the seventh different winner in seven Summernationals races ever held at Lincoln.
Brandt 60: (1) Bobby Pierce, (2) Don O’Neal, (3) Brandon Sheppard, (4) Ryan Unzicker, (5) Brian Shirley, (6) Terry English, (7) Shannon Babb, (8) Jack Sullivan, (9) Dustin Griffin, (10) Tanner English, (11) Jason McBride, (12) Tyler Reddick, (13) Randy Korte, (14) Rich Bell, (15) Rusty Schlenk, (16) Brian Diveley, (17) Scott Schmitt, (18) Kevin Weaver, (19) Daren Friedman, (20) Steve Sheppard Jr., (21) Bobby Dauderman, (22) Eric Smith. Fast qualifier (among 48 cars): Babb, 13.789 seconds. Heat winners: Reddick, Sheppard, Pierce, Griffin. B-main winner: Schmitt. C-main winners: Todd Bennett, Bob Geiger. Provisional starters: Unzicker, Bell, Friedman, McBride.
Redraw and provisionals
Looking to return to victory lane at the location of his first-ever Summernationals victory, Brandon Sheppard will lead the 60-lap main event to green. Sheppard, the series points leader drew the pole in a redraw among heat race winners. Bobby Pierce will join Sheppard on the front row with Dustin Griffin and Tyler Reddick sharing the second row. ... Ryan Unzicker will use a series provisional to start the main event from the 19th spot with track provisional Rich Bell starting 20th. Daren Friedman will use then UMP points provisional to start 21st with Jason McBride using the second series provisional to round out the 22-car starting field.
Scott Schmitt claimed the 12-lap B-main, earning the 17th starting spot for tonight's main event. Schmitt and Terry English pulled away from the rest of the field in claiming the race's two transfer spots.
Finish: Scott Schmitt, Terry English, Donny Walden, Daren Friedman, Torin Mettille, Jason Jaggers, Tim Lance, Joseph Joiner, Rich Bell, Roger Brickler, Todd Bennett, Wendell Wallace, Todd Frank, Bob Geiger, Ray Guss Jr.
Earning a starting spot in the B-main, Todd Bennett led every lap of the first C-main with second-finishing Joseph Joiner also transferring to the next consy. Bob Geiger won the second C-main with Jason McBride second.
Bobby Pierce shot from third to first when polesitter Brian Diveley bobbled exiting turn two on the second lap and held off second-starting Brian Shirley in leading the remainder of the caution-free race. Shirley settled for a close second-place finish with Don O'Neal third. Diveley fell back early, but held on to fourth at the finish. He'll join the top three in transferring to the main event.
Finish: Bobby Pierce, Brian Shirley, Don O'Neal, Brian Diveley, Rich Bell, Tim Lance, Wendell Wallace, Bob Geiger, Jason McBride, Jason Riggs, Jeff Riddell, Rick Standridge.
Benefitting from a complete restart that negated his terrible start, polesitter Dustin Griffin turned back Tanner English's mid-race challenge on his way to claiming the third heat race. The third-starting English rallied on the low side to pass Griffin on lap five, but Griffin charged back and retook the lead on the next lap. English chased Griffin the remaining distance, but couldn't mount another strong challenge. Bobby Dauderman was third with Steve Sheppard Jr. rallying to climb the fourth and final transfer spot. Sheppard Jr. stopped on the back straightaway on the first lap to cause a complete restart. Ryan Unzicker spun from the fourth spot to bring out the second caution with two laps complete.
Finish: Dustin Griffin, Tanner English, Bobby Dauderman, Steve Sheppard Jr., Daren Friedman, Torin Mettile, Todd Frank, Ryan Unzicker, Todd Bennett, Jeremy Conaway, Ryan Little, Terry Knutti.
Second-starting Brandon Sheppard outdueled fellow front-row starter Shannon Babb in the opening laps and again on a midrace restart in leading every lap of the second 10-lapper. Babb chased Sheppard early, but faded a half straightaway back in settling for second. Kevin Weaver was just behind Babb in third with Rusty Schlenk also transferring to the main event. Michael Kloos's solid run ended badly when he jumped the cushion and climbed the wall in turn four, giving up the fourth spot.
Finish: Brandon Sheppard, Shannon Babb, Kevin Weaver, Rusty Schlenk, Terry English, Jason Jaggers, Roger Brickler, Cody Spirling, Tom Thoennes, Michael Kloos.
Polesitter Tyler Reddick cruised in the first 10-lap heat race, leading as he built more than a straightaway advantage in a race slowed by two cautions. Jack Sullivan finished second, holding off third-finishing Randy Korte. Eric Smith grabbed the fourth and final transfer spot. The first caution waved with just one lap complete when Billy Drake spun. Greg Kimmons brought out the red flag when he jumped the cushion and climbed the wall in turn four, leaving his No. 27 machine perched on top of the concrete.
Finish: Tyler Reddick, Jack Sullivan, Randy Korte, Eric Smith, Scott Schmitt, Ray Guss Jr., Donny Walden, Billy Drake, Joseph Joiner, Greg Kimmons, Lake Knutti.
Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., posted a lap of 13.789 seconds around Lincoln Speedway during Sunday’s UMP DIRTcar Summernationals time trials, earning fast time among 48 qualifiers for the quarter-mile oval’s $10,000-to-win Brandt 60.
Babb, the three-time series champion and former series winner at Lincoln, will start from the pole of one of four heat races coming up. Other heat polesitters after group qualifying: Tyler Reddick of Corning, Calif.; Dustin Griffin of Camp Point, Ill.; and Brian Diveley of Springfield, Ill.
Each 10-lap heat race will transfer the top four finishers into the main event with the heat winners redrawing for their feature starting spots. The C-main will transfer the top four finishers into the B-main, which puts two more drivers into the feature lineup. Four provisional starters will round out the 22-car starting field.
Qualifying action was slowed during the second of the four groups when Dennis Erb Jr. got into the tour-four wall on his warm-up lap, causing heavy cosmetic damage to the nose of his race car. He pulled off with out recording a time.
Todd Frank jumped the cushion and spun in the third group, causing another stoppage. Rick Standridge ran into trouble in the fourth group when he jumped the turn-four cushion and climbed the wall. He continued running, but the incident left his car with rear damage.
Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., leads the series into the event. But with his runner-up finish in the tour’s race Saturday in Paducah, Ky., second-place Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., has cut Sheppard’s lead to 89 points. Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., is third, 104 points out of the lead, followed by Shannon Babb (-111) of Moweaqua, Ill., and Randy Korte (-209) of Highland, Ill. ... Tonight’s event was originally scheduled as a $5,000-to-win race, but sponoship from Pleasant Plains-Ill.-based Brandt Agriculture Products boosted the purse money and laps. In honor of Brandt's 60th anniversary, both Late Models and UMP Modifieds will run 60-lap features. The modified feature pays $2,000 to the winner. ... Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., has stuck with the series for another night, switching to an older car from the Moring Motorsports stable. O’Neal, who has struggled of late, is confident in the car. “Every time we unload it, it’s usually fast,” said O’Neal, who drove the team’s other car to a disappointing 11th-place finish Saturday night at Paducah. “It should be better. We can’t be much worse than we were the other night.” ... IMCA Late Model veteran Ray Guss Jr. of Milan, Ill., is making the first of a handful of his planned Summernationals appearances. The three-time reigning IMCA weekly points champion plans to also enter the tour’s event at La Salle (Ill.) Speedway this week. ... Current UMP national points leader Rusty Schlenk of Weston, Ohio, is back with the tour for the first time since a week ago at I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Mich. ... Joining Dillon Wood as the only Florida driver's to compete on this year's series, Joseph Joiner of Milton, Fla., is making his Summernationals debut. ... NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Justin Allgaier of nearby Riverton, Ill., and his Brandt-sponsored No. 31 car are at the event with Allgaier, who plans to race a modified tonight, is hosting an autograph session before the start of the night’s program. ... Lincoln is hosting its sixth Summernationals race. The tour first visited the track in 2005 and every year from 2006-11. Last year’s race was cancelled due to extreme heat. ... Brandon Sheppard won the most-recent series race here in 2011 for his first-ever tour victory. ... Other former winners in attendance tonight include Randy Korte (’09), Brian Shirley (’08), Don O’Neal (07) and Shannon Babb (’05). ... No driver has won the event multiple times.
Tyler Reddick (11), Corning, Calif., 13.965
Eric Smith (9), Bloomington, Ill., 13.969
Jack Sullivan (1s), Greenbrier, Ark., 14.035
Billy Drake (75), Bloomington, Ill., 14.041
Randy Korte (81), Highland, Ill., 14.150
Ray Guss Jr. (58), Milan, Ill., 14.314
Scott Schmitt (10s), Tonica, Ill., 14.433
Greg Kimmons (27), Pleasant Plains, Ill., 14.452
Donny Walden (1w), Towanda, Ill., 14.697
Lake Knutti (07), Lanark, Ill., 15.000
Joseph Joiner (10), Milton, Fla., 15.385
Matt Taylor (24), Springfield, Ill., no time
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 13.789
Brandon Sheppard (B5), New Berlin, Ill., 13.874
Michael Kloos (6K), Trenton, Ill., 14.007
Kevin Weaver (B12), Gibson City, Ill., 14.106
Rusty Schlenk (91), Weston, Ohio, 14.180
Jason Jaggers (32), Wyanet, Ill., 14.206
Terry English (96), Benton, Ky., 14.527
Tom Thoennes (31), Bloomington, Ill., 15.082
Roger Brickler (82), Springfield, Ill., 15.619
Cody Spelling (7), Peoria, Ill., 16.591
Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill., no time
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., no time
Dustin Griffin (20), Camp Point, Ill., 13.855
Daren Friedman (89), Forrest, Ill., 14.147
Tanner English (96), Benton, Ky., 14.150
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 14.275
Todd Bennett (T2), Peoria, Ill., 14.404
Ryan Little (38c), Springfield, Ill., 14.443
Steve Sheppard Jr. (5s), New Berlin, Ill., 14.740
Todd Frank (21), Mellen, Wis., 14.803
Torin Mettille (116), Cullon, Ill., 14.849
Bobby Dauderman (18), Alhambra Ill., 14.874
Jeremy Conaway (F15), Springfield, Ill., 15.115
Terry Knutti (07), Lanark, Ill., 16.836
Brian Diveley (11D), Springfield, Ill., 13.925
Brian Shirley (48x), Chatham, Ill., 13.958
Bobby Pierce (32) Oakwood, Ill., 14.189
Don O'Neal (1), Martinsville, Ind., 14.284
Wendell Wallace (6m), Batesville, Ark., 14.296
Rich Bell (21), Sheffield, Ill., 14.348
Tim Lance (48), Brimfield, Ill., 14.534
Jason McBride (77), Carbondale, Ill., 14.925
Rick Standridge (10R), Collinsville, Ill., 14.971
Jason Riggs (81jr), Harrisburg, Ill. 15.034
Jeff Riddle (09), Steward, Ill., 15.135
Bob Gardner (4G), Peoria, Ill., 15.509