Eldora-savvy Pierce Looking For Success At Dirt Late Model Dream
Youngster Looks To Continue Momentum To Eldora’s June Blockbuster
By Alli Collis
ROSSBURG, Ohio (June 6, 2016) – Finishing second in September’s World 100 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, Bobby Pierce was one spot shy of becoming the youngest winner in event history.
Still looking to add one of the prestigious Eldora crown jewels to his resume, the 19-year-old second-generation driver from Oakwood, Ill., returns to the famed Ohio oval this weekend, eyeing the $100,000 prize in this Thursday, Friday and Saturday’s Dirt Late Model Dream Weekend by Ferris Mowers.
While it was just three years ago that Pierce made his first start in one of Eldora’s major events, the reigning UMP DIRTcar Summernationals champion has often been a factor. Pierce was fourth in the 2013 World 100 and along with finishing second to Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., in last year’s World 100, he’s also captured the previous two UMP Fall Nationals.
The Dream hasn’t been so kind to Pierce — he’s yet to crack the starting field — but he’ll look to change that starting Thursday evening.
“Eldora’s always been a track that I love going to,” Pierce said. “There’s nothing like it and we’ve a lot of good runs there. I don’t really know why I’m so successful there at certain times. I think it’s just one of those tracks that carries a lot of speed, and when there’s a top side there, I’m normally really good. When it gets like that it really fits my driving style. The competition there is so stout, just to make one of those shows is a major accomplishment. Every time I go there, that’s the main goal.”
While his late-season success at Eldora is apparent, Pierce knows his past Dream performances have been lackluster.
“It seems like we always struggle at the Dream, mainly because … like last year, the track was super slick,” Pierce said. “We just couldn’t get the car to hook up at all. I hope it’s not bad luck, or if it is, I hope we have better luck this year at the Dream. We’ve had, I think two, engine belts come off two different times at two different Dreams. Luck plays a big role in it, but if we can run so well at the World, I don’t know why we can’t run so well at the Dream. It just happens. But I think we’re pretty good this year heading in to it.”
Despite last season’s Dream hardships, Pierce made an Eldora turnaround the following month, finishing runner-up to Christopher Bell in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event.
“That deal was really cool,” Pierce said. “Whenever cars that aren’t supposed to race on dirt (actually) race on dirt, it’s kind of crazy. Everyone thinks you’re moving slow, but they’re a handful at Eldora for sure. To finish there and almost win the thing was really cool. The truck was something that I think as a driver, kind of made me better because it’s something different. With all the experience I had racing at Eldora other times, I think that kind of helped me. It was a fun race and I’m probably going to do it again this year.”
While he’s still focused on Dirt Late Model racing and plans to defend his UMP Summernationals title this summer, Pierce has started branching out more this season. Already entering several NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events, he has the Eldora truck race on his July schedule. Winning one of Eldora’s elusive crown jewels would be a big career booster when it comes to making the jump to asphalt, Pierce said.
“It’s really big because it’s something that goes on your resume as one of the toughest races to win and one of the most prestigious races,” Pierce said. “It seems like everyone knows about Eldora. With getting into the asphalt stuff, it seems like people really look at that when you’re trying to find sponsorship. We’re trying to get more into asphalt a little bit, but at the same time, dirt’s just what I’ve always been doing. It fits me so well as a driver.”
Also fueling his desire to win this weekend — the outcome of Memorial Day weekend’s Show-Me 100 at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo. After winning the non-qualifiers’ race and charging through the 30-car field, Pierce was set to restart out front with nine laps remaining in the $30,000-to-win event, only to suffer a flat tire. He ended up sixth.
Coming so close to his first career crown jewel victory, Pierce is carrying that momentum into Eldora.
“When the weekend started, I didn’t think we’d have a car to even make the race,” Pierce said. “I won that non-qualifiers’ race, and I knew if I could get in the show, we’d have a better shot. The track really came around to my liking. It was kind of like a driver’s track, you had to miss the ruts and stuff. Even though we had a flat tire leading it, I was still happy because we turned the weekend around and made a positive note out of what was going to be really bad.”
With Eldora recently announcing tweaks to the Dream format, Pierce is focused on running well in Thursday and Friday’s preliminary events. With Saturday’s heat race lineups set by a new points system based on prelim performances, it’s important to have a solid performance each night.
“If we can run good in those couple races before Saturday to have me in a good points position for Saturday, I think that’s what it’s going to take,” Pierce said. “If we can run good on those days and be in the show, I’ll be pretty happy and can just take it from there. I’m hoping to be in victory lane, but that’s a long shot. There’s a lot of competition like always there…just to be in victory lane with that $100,000 check at Eldora, that’d be awesome.”
Single day tickets start at just $20 with children (12 & younger) admitted free to general admission all three days of the Dirt Late Model Dream. Tickets and camping information is available at (937) 338-3815 or www.EldoraSpeedway.com.
About Eldora Speedway:
Since carved from a cornfield in the natural amphitheater that existed between the Eldora Ballroom and the Wabash River by bandleader Earl Baltes in 1954, Eldora Speedway has grown to be a frontrunner in motorsports growth and stability. Baltes chose to sell the legendary high-banked clay oval to motorsports entrepreneur and NASCAR, IndyCar and USAC champion Tony Stewart in 2004. Celebrating its 63nd season in 2016, Eldora hosts the biggest events in short-track racing including the 22nd annual Dirt Late Model Dream by Ferris Mowers; the 33rd annual Kings Royal Weekend; the fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on dirt – the Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby; and the 46th annual World 100. The complete schedule for Eldora’s 63rd consecutive season, including ticket and campsite information, is available at www.EldoraSpeedway.com and can be requested by phone at (937) 338-3815. Fans can get behind-the-scenes access of Eldora Speedway by following @EldoraSpeedway on Twitter, hitting ‘Like’ at www.facebook.com/EldoraSpeedway and on www.youtube.com/EldoraSpeedwayInc.