The 2018 racing season has been one of many changes for Bobby Pierce as he settles into a new team, with a new car, on a new series. While the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series is taking a break, Pierce and the Dunn Benson Ford team are staying busy. Pierce will make his first start in the Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series in a homecoming for the team this Saturday at Fayetteville Motor Speedway (NC).
Though it will be Pierce’s first time on the Carolina oval, the team has taken time to get him practice for the Ed Gibbon’s Memorial, $10,000 to win race. And while the trophy is the goal at the end of the day, testing for the upcoming Lucas Oil tour race in July at Fayetteville is the main purpose for this Saturday’s event.
“It will be my first time racing there; we practiced there a couple of weeks ago and we were pretty fast. The track was decently fast in one and two and got a little choppy in three and four; it was pretty slick,” Pierce told Speed51.com. “It kind of had two different corners to try out there. That frontstretch (at Fayetville) can be a little bit treacherous. We had really good times so I’m looking forward to racing there. It’s not the Lucas (Oil Late Model Dirt Series) race this time so I don’t have to worry about points. We’ll just try to win Saturday and hopefully that will help us later in the year.”
“Fayetteville is the closest track to Dunn Benson Motorsports and the owners really wanted to go there. We were debating on that or LaSalle for the Thaw Brawl in Illinois, but this is their home track and we have some people from Campbell University, one of my sponsors, that are going to be there.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge for Pierce will be racing the Carolina Clash field; a different cast of characters than he is used to during the majority of his racing career, which has been centered around the Midwest UMP Dirt Late Model tracks.
“Any series these days is tough; all these guys know that track pretty well I bet. I’ve never raced there; it kind of helped to get some practice laps in, but racing is a different thing. We’ll learn how the track changes around race time. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. One thing that I kind of take away from it is that you don’t always know their driving style and sometimes that can hurt you. When you race against the same people all of the time, whether it’s Lucas guys, World of Outlaws guys or UMP guys back home, you know what those guys are going to do and that can help you out at times.”
The time spent racing this Saturday will be valuable as Pierce will return to Fayetteville twice more in 2018. The next trip to the team’s home track will be for the World of Outlaws Late Model Series event in early May and the valuable Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points event on July 5. Overall Pierce is facing many tracks he’s never seen on the Lucas Oil tour the year, so he hopes all the laps prior to July will payoff.
“I got about 21 tracks total for the Lucas Series I’ve never been to before, four of those are already out of the way; Golden Isles, Ocala, Boyd’s, and East Alabama. Golden Isles is alright, Ocala is alright, but I really like Boyd’s and East Alabama; they were pretty fun.”
While Pierce began the season with the challenge of a new team and racecar with his Rocket chassis, he feels that particular challenge has past. Now it all comes down to putting together a complete night of racing to finally get his first win of 2018.
“This past weekend everyone’s been like, ‘You had a good weekend’, and I’m like, ‘Well, probably could’ve been a little better.’ We’re really just figuring out this new car, the Rocket chassis. Just getting used to the way it drives,” said Pierce who had 14 big Dirt Late Model wins in 2017, including the Show-Me 100 at Lucas Oil Speedway. “I’m really comfortable with it (the car) now. Mark Richards (owner of Rocket Chassis) has helped us a ton getting us off on the right foot.
“I’ve never driven another chassis (other than his father’s style of car). Anytime you sit in a new office you have to get used to that and I feel comfortable now,” added Pierce. “With the new team, it has been a bit of a learning curve, but I’ve got some great crew-members with me too. Everything is coming together. We just have to put together a whole night together and that’s the key.”
Follow all the action from Fayetteville Motor Speedway this Saturday with Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage of the Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series Ed Gibbons Memorial. Speed51 will also have race highlights and interviews from all Carolina Clash races in 2018.
By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
Photo credit: Heath Lawson