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West Burlington, IA (July 3, 2020) - Bobby Pierce took advantage of Tony Jackson Jr.'s misfortune in the closing laps of Friday night's 12th Annual "Slocum 50" at the 34 Raceway, capturing his fourth career win in the marquee event.
At the drop of the green flag it was DirtonDirt.com Pole sitter and Slick Mist Fast Qualifier Brian Birkhofer shooting out to the early race lead. However, it did not take long for 2013 Lucas Oil MLRA Champion Tony Jackson Jr. to find his groove on the low line, as he by-passed Birkhofer and quickly began to distance himself from the field.
After a quick caution on lap eight, Jackson Jr. again set sail and found himself working deep into lapped traffic as the 50 lapper progressed. As Jackson set the pace, Shannon Babb worked his way into second but, could not close the gap on the leader as he found himself battling with lapped traffic for a good portion of the event.
Pierce took advantage of the lapped traffic and used the top side to drive by Babb with just 18 laps to go. Piece quickly began to close on Jackson in the closing laps, taking the advantage from over 2.5 seconds down to just 1.391 seconds when the caution waved over the field with only 9 laps to go for a slowing Brian Shirley.
On the ensuing restart, Jackson again left the field and appeared on his way to the win when disaster struck the Lebanon, MO driver. As he excited turn four with just four laps to go, his BWRC ICON chassis limped across the line without power before coming to rest at the top of the race track due to fuel pump issues.
With Jackson out of the picture, Pierce restarted from the point and held off a pair of late charges by Babb to secure the victory worth $10,555. At the line it was Pierce by a margin of just .131 seconds over Babb, while Birkhofer held on for his first Lucas Oil MLRA podium finish of the year in third. Jeremiah Hurst grabbed yet another Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Race award for his fourth place finish with it was Oxford, Iowa's Chris Simpson rounding out the top five.
Pierce was exhausted yet relieved following the main event, commenting in Cedar Creek Beef Jerky Victory Lane, "Shannon was really good on those restarts and I don't know but it seemed like I was better on the longer runs. I was pretty nervous, I knew it was going to be a close race ever since I got into third and I started reeling those guys in. Normally when you catch guys you catch them a lot and it just felt like I was catching them a nose at a time. It was very frustrating because I like to get going and get the lead quick and not wait until the very end, but we made it exciting that's for sure."
Babb nearly capitalized on the late restart, but came up just short at the line. Pierce continued, "He (Babb) didn't need Birkhofers headers for me to tell he was on the inside of me, he was on the gas. I've got to thank him for racing me clean into one. I know he hauled it in there and I kind of widened out my line a little bit, but he could have went in there and doored me but he didn't. Maybe if it would have been a lot more money to win he would have and I probably would have too, but big thanks to him for racing me clean into one. We're going to be racing a lot against each other and its just cool to have such a great race like that."
The runner-up finish for Babb is one spot better than his third place finish from a year ago, as he commented, "The track was everywhere tonight just top and bottom and you could race all over it. I got into lapped traffic and couldn't get by a couple of guys and allowed Bobby to get by. He was really good, and we got down to the very end and I did everything I could to get back by him, but he got the job done and got the win."
Birkhofer came up just two spots shy of his fifth career MLRA win but was happy with his first podium result of the season. "It's a work in progress," he commented. "We changed some stuff for the feature and obviously I wish I could have pulled in right away and changed it back, but you know we held on and probably should have ran fourth, if 56 (Jackson) doesn't have his problem. I had a blast watching these two race their asses off," he concluded of the battle between Pierce and Babb.
UP NEXT: The 300 Raceway in Farley, IA will welcome the stars of the Lucas Oil MLRA on Saturday night July 4th for the first annual "Independence Day Shootout" presented by DiscountShopTowels.com. Saturday nights $5,000 to win "A" Main will lead up to Sunday nights $5K to win "Bullring Bullseye 40" at the Rock Island County Fairgrounds in East Moline, IL.
34 Raceway "Slocum 50" Contingencies 7/3/20
MAV TV Motorsports B Feature 2 (10 Laps): 1.Tim Manville 2.Garrett Alberson 3.Jason Papich 4.Myles Moos 5.Jay Johnson 6.Brandon Queen 7.Justin Duty 8.Rich Bell 9.Mark Burgtorf
Casey's General Stores Heat 2 (10 Laps): 1.Tony Jackson Jr. 2.Mike Spatola 3.Chris Simpson 4.Mason Oberkramer 5.Brian Shirley 6.Dave Eckrich 7.Jonathan Brauns 8.Brennon Willard 9.Mitch McGrath
Sunoco Race Fuels Heat 3 (10 Laps): 1.Shannon Babb 2.Mckay Wenger 3.Chad Holladay 4.Rickey Frankel 5.Tim Manvillle 6.Rich Bell 7.Myles Moos 8.Brandon Queen 9.Mark Burgtorf
Midwest Sheet Metal Heat 4 (10 Laps): 1.Bobby Pierce 2.Chad Simpson 3.Tony Toste 4.Kolby Vandenbergh 5.Jason Papich 6.Garrett Alberson 7.Justin Duty 8.Jay Johnson
For all of the latest news and information fans are encouraged to visit the series website at www.MLRARacing.com.