Pierce had no brakes for the final 15 laps of the 50-lap grind, having to abandon what got him the lead while holding off Brandon Sheppard to score the $20,000 triumph.
“Going off into the corner, you don’t know if it is going to steer,” Pierce said about driving with no brakes. “Especially if I was running the top like that. You use so much brake around the corner with these cars, you’re pedaling. It helps the car turn. It helps the car slow down. It just does a lot of stuff. So, no brakes is like driving with a blind fold.”
Pierce’s luck went a bit smoother for him earlier in the evening, able to win his Heat Race and draw the pole for the 50-lap Feature.
To his outside, Minnesota native Dustin Sorensen was eager for a career performance in front of his home state fans. And behind them, four-time Series champion Brandon Sheppard – who earned the Simpson Quick Time Award for the night – started fourth, looking for his third straight win.
At the start of the Feature, Sorensen bested Pierce through Turns 1 and 2 and led his first lap with the World of Outlaws. His time out front didn’t last long, though, as Pierce dove under Sorensen on entry into Turn 3 and had the lead by the exit of 4.
From there, Pierce made qualifying laps around the top, pulling ahead by a straightaway in the first three laps.
Behind him, Sheppard and Sorensen waged a war for the runner-up spot. Sheppard stole it early from Sorensen, but the yellow #28 never let “BShepp” get too far ahead. While Sheppard ran high, Sorensen lurked low. He could pull even with Sheppard into the corner but the #B5 always had the better run off the turn.
When close enough, Sorensen launched slider after slider, cutting in front of Sheppard off the corner, but Sheppard was always able to cut underneath him and steal the spot the next round.
Slower traffic came into play at multiple times, bringing Sheppard and Sorensen a car length from Pierce. However, once the #32 found clean air, it was back to a straightaway lead within the lap.
With 20 to go, Pierce had a solid command of the race. Then, his brakes started to fade. To make up for it, he had to change from running the top to running the bottom, which gave Sheppard’s chance new life.
“Dad was on the backstretch (spotting) and his hands had gotten to the point where I knew someone was right behind me,” Pierce.
While Pierce battled to keep his car in line every corner, Sheppard was breathing down his neck, waiting to capitalize on any mistake.
However, none came. Pierce drove through the hinderance and picked up his 15th career World of Outlaws win.
“It rubbered up in (Turns) 3 and 4 on the bottom,” Pierce said. “Here (in Turns 1 and 2) it didn’t too bad. It was pretty clean. It took rubber over here (in 3 and 4) so that was my money corner. I knew as long as I could get through here, Brandon probably wasn’t going to beat me.”
Sheppard had to settle for second but left focused on the positives. It was his fifth straight podium finish and comes after back-to-back wins. He’s also now tied for second in points with Chris Madden.
“It was a fun track there, a little slippery,” Sheppard said. “I missed it on my right front there. I couldn’t quite finish the corner like I needed to. I’d get into the corner really good and I couldn’t steer up off the corner. Overall, I couldn’t be happier with this Longhorn chassis and Bilstein shocks, everyone involved with this team. Everyone has been working their tails off. We got our consistency. We just have to keep it up.”
Sorensen finished third, his career-best World of Outlaws finish – also his first podium, top five and top 10 with the Series.
“I got by [Sheppard] for good one time but caught a lap car at the worst possible time and he got back by me,” Sorensen said. “He was good too, but I think if I managed to stay in front of him, I might have got him. But it is just awesome to be racing with guys like Bobby (Pierce) and Brandon (Sheppard). That was a huge confidence booster for us.”
Kyle Bronson finished fourth for the second straight night, in the debut weekend for this new Longhorn chassis. Ryan Gustin rounded out the top five for this second straight top five finish. And Brent Larson earned the Fox Factory Hard Charger Award by going from 20th to seventh.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision.
Feature (50 Laps): 1. 32-Bobby Pierce; 2. B5-Brandon Sheppard; 3. 28S-Dustin Sorensen; 4. 40B-Kyle Bronson; 5. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 6. 97-Cade Dillard; 7. B1-Brent Larson; 8. 44-Chris Madden; 9. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 10. 25-Shane Clanton; 11. 2S-Stormy Scott; 12. 3S-Brian Shirley; 13. 49-Jake Timm; 14. 16-Tyler Bruening; 15. 15-Nick Anvelink; 16. 9-Nick Hoffman; 17. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 18. 76-Blair Nothdurft; 19. 11G-James Giossi; 20. 22-Nick Panitzke; 21. 96V-Tanner English; 22. 90-Lance Matthees; 23. 30-Todd Cooney; 24. 14W-Dustin Walker