He broke Thursday night while leading, but Friday night at Tri-City Speedway was Bobby Pierce’s race for redemption.
The four-time and reigning DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion was forced to earn that redemption, however, working his way around fellow Hell Tour champion Dennis Erb Jr. in the second half of the 40-lap main event to claim the first $10,000 check of the season.
To go along with the riches, a nice dose of true Hell Tour experience was served to him on a silver platter.
“Today felt like Hell Tour, for sure,” Pierce, of Oakwood, IL, said. “It was humid, hot. We had a little issue qualifying… it was typical Hell Tour today.”
After making repairs to a broken rear-end after Qualifying, Pierce won his Heat Race and lined up third on the Feature starting grid. Erb jumped out to the lead and held it firmly through the first 27 laps, fending-off multiple challenges from Pierce to his inside on several restarts.
“The cushion was the place to be, but you had to run it so weird, and it was so treacherous up there that it was hard to run,” Pierce said. “I started running that bottom and I think I kinda sucked Erb down. Once he started running the bottom and was mixing it up, we were having a hell of a race.”
Erb continued through the low-middle groove as the race crossed the halfway point. Pierce continued following the bottom lane as well but went a little too low at one point and clipped one of the infield tractor tires on his way through. That’s when he knew it was time to move up and get serious about a move for the lead.
“I actually hit one of the tires shortly before I passed [Erb],” Pierce said. “I hit it coming out of Turn 4 pretty good. I got [it with] the left-front tire and the wheel jumped out of my hand for a second.
“At that point, Dennis was somewhat leaving the door open, and I’d found a little bit of a line under there that the car wasn’t bouncing so bad. I was able to just get enough momentum and I got around him.”
Pierce braved the infamous Tri-City cushion on Lap 27 and made it through smoothly, getting a big boost of speed off Turn 4 to grab the lead away for good and leading the rest of the way to collect his 43rd career DIRTcar Summer Nationals victory.
Erb held on for second and his second top-five this week; World of Outlaws CASE Late Model Series regular Ryan Gustin rounded out the podium. Shannon Babb finished fourth in his season debut with the tour, Tanner English was fifth and previous points leader Ryan Unzicker drove all the way from a provisional 19th starting spot to finish sixth.
The DIRTcar Summer Nationals Late Model action continues with another $10,000-to-win show Saturday night, June 18, at Fairbury Speedway in Fairbury, IL. If you can’t be at the track, watch every lap live on DIRTVision.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)
Feature 40 Laps | 00:29:06.715
1. 32-Bobby Pierce; 2. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 3. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 4. 18-Shannon Babb; 5. 81E-Tanner English; 6. 24-Ryan Unzicker; 7. 3S-Brian Shirley; 8. 25-Jason Feger; 9. 36-Logan Martin; 10. 111V-Max Blair; 11. 11H-Jeff Herzog; 12. 4G-Bob Gardner; 13. F1-Payton Freeman; 14. 14G-Joe Godsey; 15. 11T-Trevor Gundaker; 16. 10-Daryn Klein; 17. 15D-Justin Duty; 18. 30-Mark Voigt; 19. 26M-Brent McKinnon; 20. 15- Kolby Vandenbergh; 21. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 22. 77-Preston Luckman; 23. 7-Drake Troutman
BATTLE OF STL: Hoffman Triumphs Over Harrison at Tri-City for 60th Career Win
With two of the best DIRTcar UMP Modified drivers in the nation taking the green right next to each other for a 25-lap duel around Tri-City Speedway, the action did not disappoint.
Mike Harrison, the six-time DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals champion from Highland, IL, and Nick Hoffman, the four-time and reigning champion from Mooresville, NC, took their spots on Row 2 of the starting grid, ready for a battle of St. Louis-area supremacy amidst a field of 23 other competitors trying to derail their train to Victory Lane.
The green dropped, and the chase was on. Polesitter Will Krup took the early lead and held strong through several restarts inside the first five laps, only letting Harrison slip by once to lead Lap 4. Hoffman trailed closely in third, waiting for the right moment to pounce.
But that moment had to wait a tick longer than usual. For the first time in a long time on the Summit Modified trail, Hoffman and his Elite Chassis #2 genuinely could not reel-in the cars ahead of him.
“I could not find a lane to get by Will,” Hoffman said. “I choose to run the middle and he’d slip out to middle and I’d lose all my speed. Finally, we had that red and I just cooled down a little bit.”
While Harrison took the point on Lap 8, Hoffman continued his search for a lane to get by Krup. A red flag was displayed just before halfway, which allowed Hoffman to reset and generate a new plan.
“I knew I could make speed in the middle of the racetrack if I could just get clear of him,” Hoffman said. “He finally left me enough lane down the straightaways that I could roll turns 1-2 on the outside and I could clear him.”
Now with the runner-up spot, Hoffman only had one to catch and pass. Harrison was well over a second ahead, but Hoffman stuck to the low-middle lane, reeled him in quickly and made the pass with five laps left as Harrison slid up the track and brushed the outside wall of Turn 2.
“Throughout that Late Model race [before], it just got so much more technical and got ledged-up where it was hard to run,” Hoffman said of racing the top line. “That was gonna be, really, my only hope and prayer that it got hard enough for [Harrison] to run that he couldn’t make enough speed up there.”
The now 60-time Summit Modified winner was ecstatic in Victory Lane, much more so than after recent wins. An original Belleville, IL-resident, many of Hoffman’s close family and friends were present to see him take down one of DIRTcar’s all-time greats in Mike Harrison, bringing the emotion out of him as he climbed atop the car with son Maddox to celebrate.
“I was more pumped-up to win that race” Hoffman said. “Just straight-up. He had the lead, I did what I needed to do to just drive by him. I was pretty amped-up to win that one.”
The DIRTcar Summit Modified action continues with a special $2,000-to-win show Saturday night, June 18, at Fairbury Speedway in Fairbury, IL. If you can’t be at the track, watch every lap live on DIRTVision.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)
Feature 25 Laps | 00:22:48.890
1. 2-Nick Hoffman; 2. 24H-Mike Harrison; 3. K9-Will Krup; 4. 05-Dave Wietholder; 5. 12L-Lucas Lee; 6. 14C- Rick Conoyer; 7. 8-Kyle Steffens; 8. 25-Tyler Nicely; 9. 18L-Michael Long; 10. 36-Kenny Wallace; 11. 4T- Jake Trebilcock; 12. 66-Cole Falloway; 13. J82-Treb Jacoby; 14. 6M-Carl McKinney; 15. 11B-Blake Bailey; 16. 73-Mark Rhoades; 17. 59R-Jacob Rexing; 18. 77-Ray Bollinger; 19. 7-Drake Troutman; 20. 5S-Owen Steinkoenig; 21. 19C-Carter Sinkhorn; 22. 6-Chris Stauffer; 23. 816-Travis Raterman; 24. 130- Chase Allen; 25. 82Q-Cole Queathem; 26. (DNS) 1D-Dean Hoffman; 27. (DNS) 4-Mike Learman
DIRTcar Series PR