From Matt Skipper | World Of Outlaws Late Model Serie
ALL TOO WELL: Bobby Pierce Scores 14th Series Win of 2023 at Fairbury’s FALS Frenzy
FAIRBURY, IL (Oct. 7, 2023) – Bobby Pierce’s return to Fairbury Speedway Saturday night could be equated to Taylor Swift’s lyrics of “the air was cold, but something about it felt like home.”
Aside from being in his home state, there’s something about Fairbury that’s like home for the Oakwood, IL native. He picked up his 14th win of the 2023 World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model season during the FALS Frenzy and his 16th win overall at the Illinois bullring – also his second in less than a month there.
The victory comes after his Friday night win at Brownstown Speedway. And like the race at Brownstown, Pierce started on the outside pole for the Feature.
However, this time he started alongside his closest championship competitor, Chris Madden, for the 50-lap match up.
When the Feature commenced Madden pulled ahead and Pierce found himself having to duel with fellow-Illinois native Brian Shirley for second. The two battled side-by-side for a couple laps before Pierce slid up the track in Turn 2, allowing Shirley to charge ahead.
Perfecting his line around the bottom, Shirley snuck underneath Madden a lap later and edged ahead of him for the lead on Lap 5. The two dueled for a few laps with Madden high and Shirley low, before “Smokey” reclaimed full command of the lead.
Having seen the low line work, Madden switch to the bottom, putting a car length between he and Shirley.
Pierce was not running the bottom. Much like the track, there’s something about the high side that’s like home for him.
Using the momentum built off the high side of Turn 2, Pierce threw his #32 underneath Madden going into Turn 3 to take the lead for split second on Lap 9. Madden dove back underneath him and the two drag raced down the front straightaway. Through the next corner, Madden pulled ahead, but Pierce wasn’t giving up on his high side hustle.
On Lap 14, again, using his torpedo launch off Turn 2, he found an opening to the outside of Madden, who was also to the outside of Shirley, down the backstretch and powered by the two with an exciting three-wide pass.
Pierce never surrendered the lead once he was clear of the two leaders, but a late-race caution provoked some nerves for the “Smooth Operator.” While he was leading, Germfree Rookie of the Year contender Nick Hoffman – another Fairbury expert – was on the move behind him, getting to second on Lap 45.
“It was a little nerve-racking,” Pierce said. “You never know when a caution will come out and if someone has saved more tire than you. You go into Turn 1 to make a good corner with that gap to second place, and I pushed going into Turn 1 and I saw (Hoffman’s) nose, but I had a good exit off of (Turn) 2 and took care of it.
“The car was great, but the most nerve-racking part was going through lap traffic and a couple times I got pinched and I couldn’t get around. It was a great racetrack, so you had a car on the bottom, middle and top and it was kinda hard on some guys but that made for an exciting race there for a little bit. Shirley, Madden and me were all side-by-side and it made for a great race. I knew that Madden was trying to not let me or Shirley by, so he had to protect both lines at once. But it made for a fun race and I’m glad to get the win.”
Hoffman ended up in the runner-up spot, his fifth podium finish this year. He tapped into his Modified experience – which earned his 10 wins at Fairbury – to help make it happen.
“The Modified experience was that we raced after the Late Models normally,” Hoffman said. “I’m glad the track was not worked on before we raced, so that the track would slow down, and we could race around each other more. Nine times out of 10 this place gets fast, and you have to ride around the top and a little bit of moisture on the bottom, but the top would prevail. It did that a little bit tonight, but you could make speed through the middle and the bottom. Bobby was so good, and he’s been like that the entire year. This helps us carry momentum into (Senoia Raceway), but we weren’t quite as good as Bobby was tonight.”
Madden was able to recover to finish third, a result that still left him with a smile.
“It was a great race,” Madden said. “They did a phenomenal job giving us a good place to race here. We had to make a few adjustments there and we’re still building the notebook and we definitely went too far with a few things and definitely learned a lot tonight, so we’ll keep working at it and we’ll get a win here soon.”
Three-time Prairie Dirt Classic champion Brandon Sheppard came home in fourth, and Brandon, FL’s Kyle Bronson withstood the competition to finish fifth.
Brent Larson earned the Fox Factory Hard Charger Award, going from 22nd to 13th.
Pierce now has a 156-point lead over Madden before going to tracks that don’t feel like home to him in the south. Only five races remain on the 2023 schedule for him to try and claim his first World of Outlaws title in his first year with the Series at the World of Outlaws World Finals (Nov. 1-4).
NEXT RACE: The World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models head to Senoia Raceway for the Billy Clanton Classic on Saturday, Oct. 14, and then Rome Speedway for the World of Outlaws ARP Southeast Showdown on Sunday, Oct. 15.
If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either online on with the DIRTVision App.
CASE Late Model Feature (50 Laps): 1. 32-Bobby Pierce; 2. 9-Nick Hoffman; 3. 44-Chris Madden; 4. B5-Brandon Sheppard; 5. 40B-Kyle Bronson; 6. 3S-Brian Shirley; 7. 16-Tyler Bruening; 8. 24-Ryan Unzicker; 9. 96V-Tanner English; 10. 32S-Chris Simpson; 11. 97-Cade Dillard; 12. 19R-Ryan Gustin; 13. B1-Brent Larson; 14. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 15. 11-Gordy Gundaker; 16. 99-Mckay Wenger; 17. 25-Shane Clanton; 18. 30-Todd Cooney; 19. 14W-Dustin Walker; 20. 25F-Jason Feger; 21. 14G-Trevor Gundaker; 22. 89-Mike Spatola; 23. 8L-Jeffrey Ledford; 24. B12-Kevin Weaver
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Photo's: World of Outlaws Late Model Series | Jacy Norgaard | Josh James