Preparations for the 2017 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes on Speed51.com are underway. The ballot was recently revealed and sent out to a panel of industry experts to determine the top 51 short track racing prospects in North America.
As we prepare for the draft, we’ll be taking a look at a handful of drivers and providing scouting reports just like you would see ahead of the NFL Draft. These scouting reports will take a look at a driver’s on-track performance, as well as other qualities that may make or break their chances of making it to the top levels of NASCAR.
We continue our round of scouting reports today with a look at Bobby Pierce, one of the top Dirt Late Model racers in the country.
Current Level: Dirt Late Models
Hometown: Oakwood, IL
Last Year’s Draft: 5th
Highest Pick: 5th (2016)
Anticipated 2017 Pick: 4th-7th
The Skinny: Pierce will be looking to make the list of top 51 picks in the Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes for the third straight year. He broke into the top picks in 2015 when he was selected 22nd before jumping up 17 spots to fifth one year ago. Despite being one year older this time around, he’s added a lot to his resume over the last year. It will be interesting to see where he ends up with all things considered.
Rising, Falling or Holding Steady: Rising
One knock on Bobby Pierce last year was that he hadn’t scored a win in one of Dirt Late Model racing’s crown jewel events. The same can’t be said entering this year’s draft. Pierce scored a huge, $49,000 World 100 victory at Eldora Speedway (OH) and a $50,000 North/South 100 win at Florence Speedway (KY). With two wins worth nearly $100,000 on his resume, it’s tough to argue that his stock is doing anything but rising.
On-Track Accomplishments: A
Competing at a level that features some of the grittiest short track racers in the country, the young driver continues to flex his muscles. He’s beaten the likes of veterans such as Davenport, Bloomquist, Richards and Clanton throughout his career.
In 2016 alone, Pierce scored a whopping 25 victories including a win at the end of the year in New Zealand. The 20-year-old driver’s resume includes a pair of UMP DIRTcar Late Model national championships and a pair of UMP DIRTcar Late Model Summer Nationals championships.
He’s already off to a fast start in 2017 with four feature victories and a Wild West Shootout points championship.
Pierce is known as one of the most personable drivers in Dirt Late Model racing. He’s frequently interacting with his fans both at the track and away from the track. He’s also a great speaker who interacts well with the media, something that many younger drivers struggle with.
Having a nickname like “Smooth Operator” also adds some personality.
Sponsor Appeal: A-
At the level he competes at, Pierce may be one of the most marketable drivers out there. He wins, he’s personable and he’s a clean cut, young, good looking guy.
For some people that may sound silly, but do you think Wheaties wants a caveman on the front of their cereal box? Probably not; they want someone who looks good and is marketable.
At a higher level, it’s tough to tell just how much Pierce could appeal to sponsors. In recent years, the Dirt Late Model ranks haven’t exactly been a hotbed for NASCAR talent.
Pierce has garnered enough sponsor support to compete in seven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events, but one has to wonder if he will ever have the support to run full-time in one of the top three series.
Social Media: A+
Pierce passed our first test by having accounts on all three of the major social media outlets – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. He is also very active on those outlets, posting race updates, photos, contests and appearances.
One thing we really like about Pierce is his desire to interact with those that support him. Recently, he posted an update on his page about a comedy show being held at his family’s bar and grill, inviting his fans to come out and share a few laughs.
Pierce also recently posted a picture of himself with a young fan and member of the #PiercePosse. Add all of this up and he’s a short track racer on top of the social media game.
Pierce has an ambitious 97-race schedule in place for the 2017 season. Nearly all of those starts are in a Dirt Late Model with one exception: Pierce will return to Eldora Speedway (OH) for the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series race, a race in which he earned national attention for a second-place finish in 2015.
At this point it’s tough to see Pierce climbing out of the Dirt Late Model ranks, but he’s certainly proved he has the talent and entire package to make it in the big leagues.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: @SummerNationals Twitter