Farmer City, IL — A single word can sum up Bobby Pierce’s performance Thursday night at Farmer City Raceway – dominant.
Before the race’s only caution flag flew with six laps remaining in the MARS Super Late Model DIRTcar Racing Series Feature event, Pierce had lapped up to eighth-place and was carrying a seven-second advantage over second-place Ryan Unzicker when the yellow came out, erasing the big lead and putting a hungry field right on his bumper.
“The whole race, I was pretty nervous, even though I had that big of a lead because I’m used to seeing a distance being shown to me from the guy in second. It had me up on the wheel most of the time,” Pierce said.
Pierce’s crew members did not have their signal sticks with them for the Feature, so Pierce had to go without them for all 40 laps out front. In the end, it didn’t seem to matter, though, as the Smooth Operator easily sliced through lapped traffic throughout the race and cruised to his 10th career MARS Late Model victory.
The 3-time DIRTcar Late Model National points champion redrew the pole position for the Feature after a victory in Heat Race #3 and jetted out to a commanding lead at the drop of the green, reaching the rear of the field by Lap 10.
Pierce smoothly maneuvered around slower traffic, using multiple grooves to make passes, and looked to have the race in-hand if only it weren’t for the Lap 35 caution. On the first restart attempt, third-running Jason Feger got a good run out of Turn 4 and dove deep under Pierce into Turn 1 in a shot for the lead. He ended up spinning around in front of the field after contact with Pierce and was forced to restart near the rear.
“Something about happened on that first restart when Feger charged in there and got the door,” Pierce said. “Luckily, it didn’t cut any tires down or anything. That second restart I hit a lot better and never saw anyone on my left side after that, so I was trying to hit my marks. I knew there was six [laps] to go, so I was just counting the laps down.”
And hit his marks he did. Pierce got good separation from the field on the second restart attempt and carried it all the way back home for the $5,000 payday.
The MARS Late Model action continues Friday with night #2 of the Farmer City 74 weekend – another $5,000-to-win show on-tap. This time, 47 laps the distance of the Feature.
Feature (40 Laps) 1. 32-Bobby Pierce ; 2. 24-Ryan Unzicker ; 3. 19R-Ryan Gustin ; 4. 18-Shannon Babb ; 5. 21-Billy Moyer ; 6. 99JR-Frank Heckenast ; 7. 33M-Tim Manville ; 8. 25-Jason Feger ; 9. 89-Mike Spatola ; 10. 4G-Bob Gardner ; 11. 74-Mitch McGrath ; 12. 10S-Taylor Scheffler ; 13. 9-Eric Smith ; 14. 111-Steven Roberts ; 15. J12-Jason Wagner ; 16. 30-Mike Glasscock ; 17. B12-Kevin Weaver ; 18. 42-McKay Wenger ; 19. 83-Scott James ; 20. 21B-Rich Bell ; 21. 25W-Allen Weisser ; 22. 1W-Donny Walden  Hard Charger: 99JR-Frank Heckenast[+8]
Summit Racing Equipment American Modified Series
It’s simply stunning what Mike McKinney’s been able to accomplish in a DIRTcar UMP Modified at Farmer City Raceway this year.
Eight Feature wins at the track coming into Thursday night’s DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment American Modified Series event, nine when the night was complete.
With 25 laps ahead of him and $1,500 on the line, The Magic Man wasted zero time from the drop of the green, plowing through lapped traffic with an all-star cast of UMP Modified talent right behind him. Faced with the #7 of Nick Hoffman on his back, McKinney never flinched and piloted his #96 Elite Chassis to Victory Lane in the caution-free event.
“We didn’t have one caution all race, and those lappers – they weren’t too bad, to be honest,” McKinney said. “Even with it being that slick, I was still able to move up to the middle of the racetrack and run the top of [turns] three and four a few times to get around them and keep my momentum up.”
Starting on the pole, McKinney jumped out to the lead immediately. His biggest threat, however, had to come from just slightly deeper in the field.
Hoffman started seventh and took 11 laps to reach second. Once he did, a bunch of lapped traffic stood in his way, which he was able to clear by Lap 14. Hoffman began to reel in McKinney as they drove through a clear spot in traffic, shaving it down to under a half-second at one point.
“Dad was telling me somebody was close,” McKinney recalled. “I wasn’t 100-percent sure who it was. It’s hard being the leader; you don’t know where the guy’s at.”
“I figured it might have been Nick [Hoffman] or Tyler [Nicely] behind me; I kinda know the line they run. So, I was just trying to protect that bottom as best I could.”
As the laps wound down, McKinney was able to keep his momentum up in traffic just enough to keep Hoffman at bay behind him and led the field back to the checkers for the $1,500 victory. Fortunately, McKinney brought his A-game in lapped traffic, as Hoffman was right on him throughout the race.
“I really didn’t have to mess around behind them too much. It seemed like as soon as I got to them, I was able to get right by them. When you’ve got that #7 car chasing you down and the rest of the field there, you can’t mess around with them too long,” McKinney said.
With the competition level found at Farmer City on a weekly basis, winning just one Feature at the quarter-mile bullring is hard enough, let alone nine. But he’s the current DIRTcar UMP Modified National points leader, so if anyone could have done it this year, McKinney’s the guy. He’s come a long way in the division since his first steps after his 2012 Stock Car National points championship, and now he’s hot on the trail of clinching his first UMP Modified National points title.
“Years ago, I would have never told you I’d have this success here,” McKinney said. “I’ve blown motors here, I’ve flipped here… anything bad that’s happened has happened here. I’ve been close to winning races, but this year seems like I can do no wrong.”
The Summit Racing Equipment American Modified Series action continues from the Farmer City Raceway Friday night in round two of action of the Farmer City 74 weekend. A 30-lap, $2,500-to-win Feature is on tap for the Modifieds.
Feature (25 Laps) 1. 96M-Mike McKinney ; 2. 7-Nick Hoffman ; 3. 25-Tyler Nicely ; 4. 21D-Danny Schwartz ; 5. 45-Kyle Hammer ; 6. 3L-Jeff Leka ; 7. 25W-Allen Weisser ; 8. 24H-Mike Harrison ; 9. 4-Victor Lee ; 10. 77-Ray Bollinger ; 11. 35-David Stremme ; 12. 5-Steven Brooks ; 13. T6-Tommy Sheppard ; 14. 36-Kenny Wallace ; 15. 1KS-Keith Smith ; 16. 59R-Jacob Rexing ; 17. 81C-Christopher Cole ; 18. 21-Troy Dodson ; 19. 81-Mark Cole ; 20. 63-Dustin King ; 21. 5S-Alan Stipp ; 22. 327-Dustin Bruce ; 23. O1-Don Kiger  Hard Charger: 7-Nick Hoffman[+5]
-DIRTcar Racing Press Release
-Photo Credit: Tyler Carr