World Of Outlaws Late Model Series

Bobby Pierce Issues Statement: 'Once They Make Me Mad, Look Out'

Bobby Pierce Issues Statement: 'Once They Make Me Mad, Look Out'

Already at 10 wins this year, Bobby Pierce surges into the heart of spring with confidence and motivation overflowing.

Apr 18, 2024 by Kyle McFadden

Bobby Pierce held absolutely nothing back Saturday at Farmer City Raceway. That statement encompasses his nine-second Illini 100 victory and the shellacking of World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series competitors. It also goes for the 27-year-old’s demeanor these days.

“Really, you know, everyone says once they make me mad, look out,” the Oakwood, Ill., superstar told following his 10th overall victory of the young season. “I mean, I’m definitely driving with a chip on my shoulder right now. There’s no doubt. You can’t deny that.”

Indeed, there’s no denying that Pierce is on a mission this season, particularly in the wake of the 144-point penalty for a failed tire test from Feb. 16’s WoO race at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.

Even as time distances itself from the tire violation and March 27’s amended penalty from an appeal (the 294-point penalty lightened to 144 with the 30-day suspension lifted), Pierce admits “I don’t know if that’ll ever be behind me” and that “I know it’ll be mentioned more and more.”

But if there’s anything the Pierce team can gain from the infraction wherein they adamantly plead their innocence, it’s this: “We’re hungry and motivated.”

Pierce, like so many of his fellow competitors, have missions within the overall mission. That said, Pierce’s objective this year to reach a feat only the legends of the sport long before his time have dared to make realistic.

“I mean, I did say at the beginning of the year I want to win 50 races,” the already 10-time winner this year said through a grin. “So, we have to get on it if we want to win 50. That was another one of those, like, kind of joking (remarks). But if it happens, man, that’d be sick. You know I’ll be trying.”

Reading between the lines, Pierce has made it his mission this season to win so overwhelmingly much and in such overwhelming fashion that the stain of the tire penalty would be drowned out by a dominance that leaves no doubt.

Pierce can’t necessarily say that about 2023 despite the remarkable 34-victory season and trio of championships on the WoO, Castrol FloRacing Night in America and XR Super Series because he narrowly lost's Driver of the Year to the equally-dominant Ricky Thornton Jr.

His 34 victories last year came across 93 races, good enough for a 36.6 win percentage. This season, his 10 wins (counting Jan. 27’s Super Saloon win in New Zealand) are through 23 races, putting his win rate at 43.5 percent. Pierce would have to keep this pace up and log 115 races in order to hit the 50-win mark, whether he’s truly serious about that otherworldly goal or not.

“I’m just glad we got the job done this weekend,” Pierce said. “Hopefully that carries into all the other racetracks we go to. Every track’s different.”

Bringing a thoroughly dominant night like Saturday to fruition goes for more than Pierce’s gung-ho, supercharged driving prowess. To even get into the position to excel, everything before the main event had to line up.

Qualifying second in Group B enabled Pierce to win the fourth heat from the pole, but he could’ve easily started the heat races from the second or even third row. The top-10 qualifiers from Pierce’s group were separated by a tenth of a second, from Shannon Babb’s quick lap of 13.025 seconds to Dustin Sorensen’s lap of 13.125 seconds.

“I could’ve qualified 12th and that could’ve been the difference to where we’ve been,” Pierce said. “It’s tight. The competition is tight. But again, we’re hungry and motivated.”

Then moments before the feature, Pierce wracked his brain on which tire compound to employ. During the redraw, fellow Illinoisan Jason Feger suggested Pierce to run the NLMT-3 on the right-front and left-rear. Feger then brought to Pierce’s attention that Brandon Sheppard won on tires equivalent to the NLMT-3 on every corner except the right-rear reserved for the hardest compound.

Pierce was already leaning toward the NLMT-3, then Feger’s suggestion only affirmed his discernment. It turned out early Chris Madden and Pierce’s closest challenger, Nick Hoffman, opted to go with the NLMT-2 on the right-front and left-rear, which later proved as the suboptimal choice.

“It’s one of those deals that’s a gamble,” Pierce said of the tire game. “And that’s dirt-track racing. … It’s an educated guess.”

And from the outset, Pierce knew had the car to beat.

“When we took the green, I was all over Babb and Hoffman. Like, I was off the gas,” Pierce said. “Right then I knew I had a good car. Cautions kept coming out early, and I was like, ‘Come on. We have to get this thing rolling.’ I was worried it would take rubber. It never did. I was worried about it, so I got that lead right away. … And that’s a good feeling when you know right away you have a good car because you know you can take your time.”

Except Pierce never looked like driver taking his time. He lapped up to eighth in the nine-second victory, which is more than half a lap on the quarter-mile turning out mid-15-second lap times for Pierce and high-15-second to 16-second times for everyone else.

Actually, in the closing laps, two of Pierce’s crew guys tried motioning to their driver to slow his pace and the milk the win out from there. Pierce didn’t oblige. He later admitted to seeing and bypassing the motions his crew guys from the infield were relaying to him, but he also gave a reasonable explanation as to why.

“At that time, all I’m thinking about is don’t run into a yuke tire like an idiot,” Pierce said. “You don’t want to miss the hole and knock the wall down. Sometimes when you slow down, you get out of your rhythm and you make mistakes. Sometimes it’s actually harder for us to slow down. That’s why you see (leaders) still on (the gas).”

What’s perhaps most impressive about Pierce’s Saturday victory is that the deeper the race went, the stronger his car got. Pierce went as far saying his car had yet to climax in performance, that the car had yet to fully come to him.

“The tires I was on, it should’ve maybe taken a while for them to come on,” Pierce said. “I was just coming on at the very end. But it worked right off the bat. I could tell how slick the racetrack was. The setup and everything we went with was perfect. I was kind of worried about it before the race. You never know what the racetrack is going to do when you have a feature before you.”

So, with that in mind, what would’ve hypothetically happened if the Illini 100 actually spanned 100 laps?

“Lapped the field. I would’ve lapped the field,” Pierce said as serious as ever. “Oh yeah, no doubt. If it went caution-free.”

When asked if he’s worried about onlookers mistaking his confidence for arrogance, Pierce invited whomever that concerns to figure out the margin if his pace would continue for another 40 laps.

“Well, what was my lead? I think we were running 15-second lap times, so I’m just doing the math,” Pierce said. “And the tires I was on, they were only going to get worse.”

Clearly Pierce’s ability to manhandle his race car and his boldness of speech are equally sharp. His equipment remains in sharp, tip-top shape, too. Heading into the heart of springtime, Pierce has three tried and trusted — and nicknamed — race machines he’ll lean on.

His primary car this year that he calls “Zard” — short for the dragon-like Pokemon character Charizard — has eight of Pierce’s victories. His backup car, “Wolfe” — short for the Marvel superhero Wolverine — has one of Pierce’s wins at Volusia and also won 10 of Pierce’s 34 features last year.

The third is a brand-new, purple-colored Longhorn Chassis nicknamed “Mudbug” that’s yet to be employed for service back at home. It’ll look a lot like the same purple Longhorn Chassis that Pierce won 24 races last year. Pierce expects “Mudbug” to do the heavy-lifting for he and his team this summer.

The original purple chassis Pierce nicknamed “Purple” is currently for sale after Pierce wrecked it at December’s Gateway Dirt Nationals.

After this weekend, Pierce seems pretty locked in on overcoming the series deficit and capturing what’d be one of the harder-earned titles in Dirt Late Model racing’s history. Pierce shaved 18 points off the initial 140-point deficit prior to this weekend.

Should Pierce continue to shave off nine points a race, he’d overcome the deficit 14 races from now on June 22 at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway. But that’s hypothetically speaking.

“I ain’t worried about it right now,” Pierce said. “That’s something that’s more fun to look at. And it keeps us motivated as always. I know from the very get-go, things are going to have to go my way. Things went our way this weekend pretty good, but it’s going to have to continue until we even get in the points hunt. If things go our way, it’ll be interesting.”

Redemption, so to speak, doesn’t stop at thrusting himself back into the title chase. Last April, Pierce stormed from the 14th-starting spot to take the lead with 15 laps remaining at Talladega Short Track’s Alabama Gang 100. A faulty left-rear wheel, however, soiled the convincing run toward $50,000.

That’s important to know because the series heads back to Talladega this weekend with another installment of the Alabama Gang 100 in sight, this year’s finale awarding $35,000-to-win. Avenging last year’s loss is Pierce’s next mission.

“Yeah, it gives us a lot of confidence heading into this weekend at Talladega,” Pierce said. “Last year I thought I was going to win that race, and ended breaking the left-rear wheel with a few laps to go. We kind of had that thing wrapped up. It gives us confidence going into that race that maybe we can get some redemption.”