FARMER CITY, IL (WOO) – A World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Feature win has plagued Bobby Pierce for years.
But in Saturday night’s Illini 100 at Farmer City Raceway, he finally got the monkey off his back in front of his home crowd and became the second first-time winner in a row during the prestigious Illinois event.
The Illinois-driver took off from the start of Saturday’s 75-Lap, $20,000-to-win Feature, and never looked back.
He dominated the first 70 laps of the race, smoothly sailing through traffic on the high side. Adel’s Ricky Thornton Jr. challenged Pierce toward the end of that run, but every time Thornton dove low, Pierce easily rose to the challenge up high.
Thornton suffered an issue late in the race, bringing out the only caution of the 75-lap race.
The yellow flag set up a five-lap shootout and put Cade Dillard on Pierce’s back bumper for the single-file re-start.
“When a caution comes out, it’s kind of hard to get back into your rhythm,” Pierce said.
When the green came back out Dillard went low and snuck by the Pierce’s #32 machine on the bottom. He pulled away by about three car-lengths before Pierce rocketed off the top once again.
When the two drivers took the white flag, Pierce carried his momentum on the cushion and nosed out ahead to lead Lap 74. He held the top spot on the final lap to snag the victory.
“Luckily, I didn’t fall back to third (on the restart) and it gave me a chance to get around [Dillard],” Pierce said.
“The thing that helped me the most was [Dillard] going to the bottom every corner. When I passed him back and made a good last lap, and crossed the checkers, it was probably one of the most exciting finishes I’ve ever had.”
While it was triumph for Pierce, it was heartbreak for Dillard. He used the bottom for most of the race, picking off cars one-by-one.
The Louisiana campaigner says he wished he tried something different on the final restart.
“I knew [Pierce] was probably on the top, so I should’ve moved up those last few laps,” Dillard said. “I stayed conservative, and it cost us a win.”
Three-time and defending champion Brandon Sheppard finished third. The New Berlin, IL driver started 18th for the second straight night, and found his way into the top five again.
Sheppard said the car was good in the Feature but getting there is a struggle.
“We were just off in qualifying again tonight, so we have to work on that,” he said. “I think we had a car that could’ve won tonight if we started a little bit better.”
Sheppard’s third place finish also cut another chunk out of Kyle Strickler’s point lead. Heading into next weekend’s races at Bristol Motor Speedway, he’s only 24 points behind the Silver Springs, PA driver who finished 13th.
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