Saturday, February 15, 2014

17 year-old Wins First in Florida

By Tyler Beichner:
East Bay Raceway Park

It’s hard to remember a time when the name Pierce wasn’t relevant in dirt track racing. Over the last few years we’ve seen a teenage kid turn into a top-class driver right before our very eyes. Bobby Pierce, also known by the term ‘Smooth Operator’, has become a threat at any dirt oval that he makes an appearance at. Today the young star made his presence known to the 34 other drivers in the pit area and nice crowd in the stands as he went on to claim his first victory in the Sunshine State that came in the form of a $7,000 triumph with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.

As previously stated, 35 drivers took to the track to compete in yesterday afternoon’s daytime Lucas Oil Late Model non-points affair. The race was originally scheduled for Wednesday night but a severe storm forced the four-day delay. Racing action kicked off promptly at 12 noon.

Dennis Erb, Jr. set fast time over the first group of qualifiers but it was Billy Moyer, Jr. that shocked the clock with the fastest lap of 15.196 seconds to place himself atop time trial Group B.

Four 10-lap heat races were ran flawlessly without a caution. Bobby Pierce, Gregg Satterlee, Billy Moyer, Jr., and fan-favorite Ray Cook picked up the heat race victories. It was Satterlee’s run in heat 2 the proved to be the most impressive in preliminary action as he was the only driver to win a heat coming from the second row or deeper. The 3rd starting Satterlee stuck it on the bottom of 1 & 2 on the start and launched himself into the lead ahead of Jimmy Owens and Booper Bare. He then went on to lead the remaining 9 laps of the race.

Only one B-main was ran for the non-qualifying cars that would see the top 4 finishers transfer on to the day’s 35-lap feature. After the first yellow of the day on the opening lap, the drivers finished the rest of the race without error. Kenny Pettyjohn went on to pick up the win and transfer spot along with Booper Bare, Chad Hollenbeck, and Jason Hughes. Fifth-place finisher Devin Moran was also moved into the A for being the top qualifier to not transfer into the race.

Next up was the 35-lap, $7,000 to win finale that would see 26 cars take the green with Pierce and Moyer, Jr. leading the field to the line. Devin Moran would spin in turn 4 to bring out the 2nd caution of the night just after the leaders crossed the stripe to complete lap one. The ensuing restart would see Bobby Pierce lead Greg Satterlee, Steve Francis, Billy Moyer, Jr., and Dennis Erb back to green. With the preferred line being the bottom-groove, very little passing took place within the top 10 for most of the race. Bobby Pierce kept a safe distance between him and Satterlee for the majority of the race, but the gap would tighten up as the leaders approached lapped traffic with just a few laps remaining. As the field took the white flag Pierce found himself stuck behind a slowing car allowing Satterlee to gain enough ground to make one last run at the teenager when the pair entered turn 3. His last-lap effort came up just short and when the field crossed underneath the checkers it was Bobby Pierce  with the hand out the window in salute to the crowd as he collected his first career win during Florida Speedweeks.

Lucas Oil Late Model feature finish (35 laps): 1. Bobby Pierce ($7,000) 2. Gregg Satterlee 3. Steve Francis 4. Billy Moyer, Jr 5. Dennis Erb, Jr 6. Jimmy Owens 7. Eric Jacobsen 8. Ray Cook 9. Brian Shirley 10. John Blankenship 11. Jason Papich 12. Booper Bare 13. Kenny Pettyjohn 14. Justin Rattliff 15. Devin Moran 16. Jason Riggs 17. Mike Benedum 18. Eddie Carrier, Jr 19. Chad Hollenbeck 20. Jason Hughes 21. Davey Johnson 22. Kevin Weaver 23. Dan Stone 24. Jared Landers 25. Randy Weaver 26. Don O’Neal

Bobby Pierce celebrating his win in Victory Lane

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