Pierce Banks $10,000 Hell Tour Prize

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Bobby Pierce (Brad Plant photo)

PONTOON BEACH, Ill. — Pulling into victory lane with battered and beaten right side body panels, Bobby Pierce climbed atop his Pierce Platinum Race Car with excitement after scoring the 26th DIRTcar Summer Nationals victory of his career Friday night at Tri-City Speedway.

Coming from fifth starting spot, Pierce used extreme-high line around the track to hunt down polesitter Ryan Unzicker, sporadically scraping the outside wall as he’s so often found doing. He caught Unzicker’s rear bumper just before halfway and wasted little time, making the move for the lead on a big run to the outside off of turn two.

Pierce made smart moves in lapped traffic and kept the high-side momentum rolling as he led the field back around to the checkers to pick up $10,000 in front of his home-state fans.

But The Smooth Operator’s Friday night didn’t go 100 percent the way he had planned, despite a stellar effort in the Feature.

“We had a tough day,” Pierce said. “One of my crew guys hurt his back today and everyone had to pull through. We were busy 24/7 back there just trying to make the thing to go today. But we found a way to victory lane somehow.”

That “somehow” showed in the 23-year-old’s skill behind the wheel, as he piloted his No. 32 Pierce Platinum Race Car to victory, fighting a tight setup.

“The car was kind of a handful. As long as I got it straight, though, it was really good. Just getting it to turn was the hardest part. We had some drive, it just made it hard to run the cushion,” Pierce said.

Unzicker held strong on the bottom side of the track to claim the runner-up spot while Rick Eckert capped off the podium.

Three-time and defending Summer Nationals champion Brian Shirley had a solid night, coming from ninth to round out the top five while six-time champion Billy Moyer ran sixth in his first Hell Tour start of the season.

The finish:

Feature (40 Laps) 1. 32-Bobby Pierce [5]; 2. 24-Ryan Unzicker [2]; 3. O-Rick Eckert [4]; 4. 32S-Chris Simpson [3]; 5. 3S-Brian Shirley [9]; 6. 21-Billy Moyer [11]; 7. 33R-Rodney Melvin [7]; 8. 99JR-Frank Heckenast, Jr. [19]; 9. 19R-Ryan Gustin [13]; 10. 15-Kolby Vandenbergh [6]; 11. 25W-Allen Weisser [14]; 12. 11-Gordy Gundaker [21]; 13. 33-Ricky Frankel [10]; 14. 82-Billy Laycock [18]; 15. 25-Jason Feger [20]; 16. 48-Tim Lance [17]; 17. 4G-Bob Gardner [12]; 18. 18-Shannon Babb [15]; 19. 11H-Jeff Herzog [8]; 20. 1ST-Johnny Scott [1]; 21. 11T-Trevor Gundaker [16]; 22. 28-Tyler Carpenter [22]