HELD ‘EM OFF: Pierce Defends Lead from Sheppard at I-55 to Win 12th of Season

Martin speaks after early incident while leading, Feger 15th-sixth

Bobby Pierce has conquered many of DIRTcar’s most historic venues across the Midwest over his young career, but one track had continuously excluded him from Summer Nationals Victory Lane.

Saturday night at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, the three-time Hell Tour champion finally checked the third-mile, high-banked oval off of his list with a victory in the 40-lap Feature event, worth $10,000 and his 39th career victory with the tour.

Jimmy Dearing Photo

For as many times he’s raced I-55 with the Summer Nationals but never won, some might think he’d dread coming to the place every year. But in reality, it’s one of his favorites.

“This is definitely one of the top-three of my favorite tracks, if not, my favorite,” Pierce said. “Throughout the years of coming here for Summer Nationals, if it hasn’t rained out, it’s been really tough competition every time.”

But to reach Victory Lane, he had to do what he failed to the night before at Highland Speedway – defend the lead from a hungry Brandon Sheppard.

Pierce inherited the lead after an unfortunate incident on Lap 8 between polesitter and race leader Logan Martin. He and Jeff Roth came together in Turn 3 as he was trying to make the pass to put him a lap down, leaving Martin in the wall and off on the hook.

“I went in there, and he didn’t hold his line. He started at the bottom of Turns 1-2 and exited on the top, and I about got him, so I exited on the bottom because I thought he was going to run the top. Then we get down into 3-4 and he turns left to go to the middle, and we ended up in it,” Martin said.

Rich LaBrier Photo

“It’s just super frustrating for our race team when we put a ton of work and effort into this. You try and do everything you can to try and put yourself in position to win those races and end up losing it on a deal like that, it’s just super frustrating.”

“I saw that almost before it happened, luckily,” Pierce said of the incident. “I had the car checked-up, or else, I would have been in that, probably.”

Now with the lead and a clear track ahead of him, Pierce went back to work. As did Sheppard’s B5, who moved up to second by Lap 13.

Several caution flags were seen over the course of the race, but Pierce held strong on the restarts. Sheppard gave chase in the closing stages, chopping the lead down to under a full second in traffic, but was unable to catch Pierce at the checkers.

“With Brandon [Sheppard] behind me, he’s one of the best in the biz… last night, we had a hell of a battle. I didn’t want to give that to him again,” Pierce said.

Jimmy Dearing Photo

Sheppard crossed in second, Ashton Winger in third, Shannon Babb in fourth and Gordy Gundaker the top-five.


The Late Models now get three days off before kicking off Championship Week on Wednesday, Aug. 18, at Butler Motor Speedway. Catch all the action live on DIRTVision. 

ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)

Feature (40 Laps) 1. 32-Bobby Pierce[4]; 2. B5-Brandon Sheppard[3]; 3. 12-Ashton Winger[5]; 4. 18-Shannon Babb[6]; 5. 11-Gordy Gundaker[8]; 6. 25-Jason Feger[15]; 7. 81E-Tanner English[7]; 8. 26M-Brent McKinnon[11]; 9. 54-Dane Dacus[10]; 10. 74- Mitch McGrath[9]; 11. 44-Blaze Burwell[17]; 12. 23-Paul Roider[14]; 13. 11T-Trevor Gundaker[20]; 14. 33-Rickey Frankel[16]; 15. 14R-Jeff Roth[12]; 16. 14G-Joe Godsey[19]; 17. 248-Brandon Lance[22]; 18. 10-Daryn Klein[2]; 19. 14- Paul Kuper[18]; 20. 16-Rusty Griffaw[13]; 21. 36-Logan Martin[1]; 22. 6K-Michael Kloos[21]