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Pierce Earns Hard-Fought $30,000 Win in Lucas Series Debut at FALS

McKinney Scores $3,000 Modified Victory

Results | PointsStory & Pictures by Rocky Ragusa

At the conclusion of time trials for Saturday’s racing program at the Fairbury Speedway, an isolated rain shower fell on the track. Roger Stryker and his track prep crew went to work and made the speedway race ready. Bobby Pierce took a hard-fought win in the Late Model feature, while Mike McKinney closed out the night with the win in the Modified race.

As part of Illinois Speedweek, the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series made their first-ever appearance at the ¼ mile dirt oval for the Spring Shootout paying $30,000 to the race winner. Driving the Rocket Chassis house car, Hudson O’Neal led the first group of qualifiers with a lap of 12.794 seconds. The “Newport Nightmare” Jimmy Owens' time of 12.870 seconds paced the second group. Four eight lap heat races had O’Neal, last year’s Dirt Track World Championship winner Garrett Smith, Fairbury’s opening night winner Shannon Babb, and a former Modified winner at Fairbury, Mississippi’s Spencer Hughes taking the wins. 2014 Prairie Dirt Classic winner and two-time Lucas Oil Series champion Tim McCreadie and second-generation driver Gordy Gundaker moved into the 60-lap main event by winning their respective semi feature.

erb lm28 drivers lined up for the Titan Industries sponsored race. Outside front row starter Babb got the jump on O’Neal and led the field as fifth starting Dennis Erb Jr. quickly moved into second. As the two Illinois wheelmen dueled for the lead, Babb got crossed up on the frontstretch giving Erb the lead on lap five. Five-time World 100 winner Jonathan Davenport brought out the first caution on lap 10 with damage to his car. On the restart, Erb opened a straightaway lead as Babb and O’Neal raced side by side for second with Bobby Pierce and Smith following. Pierce took over fourth on lap 15 and quickly joined in on the battle for second. Boom Briggs brought out the second caution on lap 25 as he tagged the frontstretch wall nearly collecting Babb. When the green flag waved, Pierce, running the top side of the track, pulled away from Hughes and moved past Babb for third on lap 28. The third yellow fell on lap 35 for Garrett Alberson as he slowed on the backstretch. Erb led on the restart with O’Neal, Pierce, Hughes, and Babb following. O’Neal broke away from Pierce and had a good run on Erb. As they approached turn one on lap 36, O’Neal dove to the inside of Erb. The two drivers made contact. Erb got sideways and Babb, with nowhere to go, got into Erb. Babb’s race was done and Erb was forced to the back of the field.

pierce lmThe restart moved O’Neal to the front with Pierce, Daulton Wilson, Hughes, and Brandon Overton in the top five. The top three drivers exited turn two three-wide on the restart. Pierce, on the bottom, moved into the lead. Pierce and O’Neal ran nose to tail before Erb stopped on the track with mechanical problems. Pierce led on the restart as Tar Heel state driver Wilson briefly challenged for the lead. Ricky Thornton Jr., racing in sixth, slammed the frontstretch wall to bring out a yellow on lap 46. O’Neal challenged Pierce for the lead on the restart, but the caution came out on lap 48 for debris on the track. Pierce led Wilson, O’Neal, Overton, and Brandon Sheppard on the restart. O’Neal took over second and quickly battled Pierce for the lead. Pierce changed his line to the top side of the track and halted O’Neal’s momentum. With two laps to go, O’Neal’s car climbed the wall in turn one bringing out the caution. O’Neal, the Lucas Oil Series points leader, had significant damage to his car and was done for the night. Wilson, in his first-ever appearance at Fairbury, ran the bottom and raced Pierce for the lead. Pierce turned back a strong performance from Wilson and was able to secure his 13th career Lucas Oil Series victory.

“I messed up yesterday (at Farmer City) and my team didn’t give up," said Pierce with 14 career FALS Late Model wins. “They said to get back in that car and drive it. I have to give a huge thanks to them. I went home and relaxed. They got the job done on the car.” Wilson tied his best career Lucas Oil Series finish as he took second, with Sheppard, 21st starter Overton, and Owens completing the top five. The remainder of the top ten went to Hughes, 24th starter Devin Moran, Gundaker, Tyler Bruening, and Max Blair.

mckinney mdSteven Brooks led group one with a time of 14.642 seconds, and Drake Troutman set the pace in group two with a time of 14.203 seconds as 43 Modified drivers vied for a starting position in their 30-lap, $3,000 to win race. Brian Shaw, Mike McKinney, Troutman, and Mike Harrison were the heat race winners. Brooks and Caden McWhorter advanced to the feature after winning their respective semi features.

Shaw led McKinney, Harrison, Troutman, and Jared Thomas as the caution came out on lap one for Alan Stipp’s spinout. Shaw and McKinney, both on the bottom groove, pulled away from the competition on the restart. McKinney was able to squeeze past Shaw on lap 11 to inherit the lead. McKinney was able to go uncontested for the rest of the race and post his second win of the season and 43rd career Fairbury Modified win. “It’s been a heck of a week,” McKinney said. “This new Longhorn Chassis has so much speed, and I haven’t had so much confidence in a while.” Shaw settled for second. Ryan Thomas held off Michael Long for third, and Trevor Neville came home in fifth. Allen Weisser, Zeke McKenzie, Thomas, Austin Friedman, and Brooks completed the top ten.

Pierce Rules Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Debut at Fairbury

Story by Lucas

Bobby Pierce took the lead after a lap 37 restart and lead the last 23 laps of the FALS Spring Shootout Presented by Titan Industries on Saturday night at Fairbury Speedway.

Pierce became the tenth different winner this season on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series - pocketing $30,000 for the win.

Pierce, who started eighth held off Dalton Wilson and Brandon Sheppard for the win. Completing the top five were Brandon Overton and Jimmy Owens. With his fourth-place finish Overton is the new point leader in the Big River Steel Chase for the Championship presented by ARP.

Shannon Babb grabbed the lead at the start of the race as he dueled it out with Dennis Erb Jr. who rode the bottom from fifth to take the lead from Babb on lap six.

The first caution of the race came out with ten laps scored for Jonathan Davenport. On the restart Erb led Babb and Hudson O’Neal, who had slipped back to third after starting from the pole. O’Neal took second from Babb on lap 18 and then started to close the gap on Erb as was encountering heavy traffic in front of him.

A restart on lap 36 would see Erb and O’Neal complete one lap before contact between the two in turn one. With Erb’s driver side door facing the field a caution immediately flew for safety concerns, with Babb also coming to a stop trying to avoid the incident. Erb would have to restart on the tail of the field after being charged with the caution. Erb’s night would come to an end three circuits later with a broke driveshaft.

On the restart O’Neal would be the race leader but before he would officially lead a lap Pierce nipped him at the scoring line to take the lead for the first time in the race with 37 laps in the record books. Wilson, who started 11th showed his strength on the bottom-side as he and O’Neal would go at it for second. With ten laps to go it was Pierce, Wilson and O’Neal in a battle for the race lead.

Wilson came close to sneaking by Pierce at the scoring loop as O’Neal went to the outside to regain the second spot on lap 52. O’Neal didn’t give up on Pierce as he started to reel him in. O’Neal would drift high in turn two with two laps to go, but O’Neal’s night would end shortly thereafter as he climbed the wall inflicting front end damage to his car.

A green-white-checkered restart would see Pierce hold off Wilson by 0.471 seconds at the finish.

In Lucas Oil Victory Lane for the 13th time in his career Pierce showed his exuberance after exiting his race car. “It’s redemption from last night at Farmer City for sure. I just messed up yesterday and my team told me to get back in the car and drive it. I have got to give a huge thanks to them. I went home last night, and they got the job done on the car. We won with a Longhorn at Fairbury on the cushion. It was an awesome night. I was pumped there. It was exciting to run the bottom or the top. It was super difficult up top. The whole race I really didn’t know where to go on the track. I figured if someone was going to pass me let it be on the top. If I could slide them and pass them back, then that’s what I was going to do. I was just trying to find out where I was best at.”

Wilson in his second full season with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series earned $15,000 for his runner-up finish in only his second-ever appearance at Fairbury. “We have been busting our tails lately. About 3 hours ago we were in trailer with straps on this thing and the door shut. We thought it was done after the rain. To even get this race in tonight was amazing. We had a really good car. We have had some real good speed here lately. We are getting better. I hope this shows we are here, and we finally put a whole night together.”

Sheppard came from tenth to round out the podium in third. “I didn’t know if I had a chance at the end with two to go. The last two laps they were two-wide in front of me so there wasn’t anywhere to go. My car was really good. I wasn’t very good at the beginning of the race. I didn’t know if I was a little too hard on tires of what. It really took me until halfway to get rolling. Once we got going, I was just kind of waiting for someone to make a move in front of me and go the opposite direction of which way I wanted to go so I could make a pass.”

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