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.
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.
“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.
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; 2. B5-Brandon Sheppard; 3. 12-Ashton Winger; 4. 18-Shannon Babb; 5. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 6. 25-Jason Feger; 7. 81E-Tanner English; 8. 26M-Brent McKinnon; 9. 54-Dane Dacus; 10. 74- Mitch McGrath; 11. 44-Blaze Burwell; 12. 23-Paul Roider; 13. 11T-Trevor Gundaker; 14. 33-Rickey Frankel; 15. 14R-Jeff Roth; 16. 14G-Joe Godsey; 17. 248-Brandon Lance; 18. 10-Daryn Klein; 19. 14- Paul Kuper; 20. 16-Rusty Griffaw; 21. 36-Logan Martin; 22. 6K-Michael Kloos
HOLY HIGHSIDE: Bollinger Wins First Career Summit Modified Feature in Thriller at I-55
Drivers never forget their first time in Victory Lane. UMP Modified rookie Brandon Bollinger made his first trip a memorable one Saturday night, putting on a stellar show in the final laps with Will Krup to score his first career DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals victory.
“It feels good to be able to run with Will Krup and Mike Harrison and my buddy Hunt Gossum all up there,” Bollinger said. “I’m still speechless from it.”
As were most of the fans in the grandstands at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, who watched Bollinger make a stellar move for the lead on a restart in the closing laps.
After Mike Harrison brought out the caution with just four laps remaining for a flat RF tire while running second, the field was restacked, and Bollinger assumed second from the pitside-Harrison. He mashed the gas on the bumper of Krup as the green dropped and went right for the high side.
“I came down the front stretch and my [crew guy] Dakota just told me to hammer the high side,” Bollinger said. “He just said go up there and hit it. I had to do it right then and be able to hit my marks up there and I knew I’d be able to do it.”
With some nice momentum out of Turn 2, Bollinger threw his #242 hard down low in Turn 3 and slid right up in front of Krup to grab the lead. But Krup didn’t just lie down, he came back at Bollinger on the low side with some solid speed around the third-mile oval.
“I didn’t know if I was going to be able to clear him or not, but then I saw him get on the brakes just a little too hard, and [Krup] looked like he was about to push,” Bollinger said. “I knew if I could just send it in there good, I knew I could get it right then.”
But in the end, it just wasn’t enough to catch the #242. Bollinger crossed the stripe and completed the upset against the Modified veterans of Krup, Harrison, Kyle Steffens and more.
A graduate of the DIRTcar Pro Modified ranks, 2021 is only Bollinger’s first year in a full-size DIRTcar UMP Modified. Saturday night was his ninth start of the season with the tour, notching only one other top-5 finish before Saturday night.
The Summit Modifieds 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 (25 Laps) 1. 242-Brandon Bollinger; 2. K19-Will Krup; 3. 327-Chuck Goodman; 4. 8-Kyle Steffens; 5. 14C-Rick Conoyer; 6. 13-Charlie Mefford; 7. J82-Treb Jacoby; 8. 82Q-Cole Queathem; 9. 9H-John Demoss; 10. 99- Hunt Gossum; 11. 87Z-Zeb Moake; 12. 59R-Jacob Rexing; 13. 4G-Paul Schrempf Jr; 14. 4T-Jake Trebilcock; 15. 21-Randy Dickman; 16. 44R-Anthony Reams; 17. 1D-Dean Hoffman; 18. 24H-Mike Harrison; 19. 11X-Don Grimm; 20. 4UW-Bobby Regot; 21. 25-Tyler Nicely; 22. 77-Rick Steveson
DIRTcar Series PR