Bobby Pierce increases his points lead to 146 with seven races remaining. (Jacy Norgaard Photo)

Pierce Outduels Madden At Atomic For 12th Outlaws Win

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Wasting time wasn’t an option for Bobby Pierce at Atomic Speedway Saturday night.

With his experience at the track, he knew how quickly its surface could change and how quickly he needed to pass Chris Madden if he wanted to win. The Oakwood, Ill. driver seized his opportunity, sliding by Madden on Lap 32 to earn his 12th World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series win of 2023.

Madden, the pole sitter, stormed to the lead on lap one while Pierce and Brian Shirley battled for second. Shirley snuck under Pierce to take the position and became Madden’s first challenger for the lead as the two approached traffic. 

After chasing Madden for a few laps, the Chatham, Ill. driver dove underneath him in turn four, nosing his No. 3S ahead of Madden to lead lap 13. That was the only lap Shirley would lead, though, as Madden’s momentum allowed him to reclaim the position the next time around.

While the top two battled in traffic, Pierce lurked behind them on the outside lane. 

It wasn’t long before Pierce found an opportunity to get by Shirley. The “Smooth Operator” found a burst of speed down the backstretch and slid his Longhorn chassis ahead of Shirley in turn three to grab second on lap 23. 

As Madden dealt with traffic, Pierce closed in on the No. 44, hoping to find an opportunity. His first chance came on Lap 30. With a lap car on the top of the racetrack, Pierce moved under Madden, pulling even in turns one and two. But at that point, Madden was better, keeping his momentum in the middle. However, it wouldn’t be long until Pierce got another chance—one he wouldn’t waste.

On Lap 32, Pierce thundered down the backstretch, again pulling even with Madden’s Longhorn. And with the same move he used to pass Shirley, Pierce slid in front of Madden to take the lead in turn three. 

From there, Pierce outdueled Madden through traffic to earn the $15,000 win—his 32nd overall triumph of the 2023 season. 

Pierce said he thought the track might take rubber late in the race and knew he had to pass Madden before that happened.

“It was getting really clean in turn three,” Pierce said. “I wanted to be patient because I knew we were pretty good, and staying green was really helping my situation. I knew how clean it was getting, and this track can rubber up. It never really did. It almost did there at the very end, but you never know. I wanted to get by [Madden], and traffic was really hairy. It was a lot of fun, though, slicing and dicing around.”

Another critical factor in Pierce’s win was his ability to maneuver through traffic. In the last 10 laps, Kyle Bronson and Dustin Walker were side-by-side, with Pierce behind them, trying to find a way by. Like his pass on Madden, Pierce took advantage when he saw a chance, splitting the two drivers in turn three en route to the win.

“Sometimes you have to pull a move like that because you get stuck behind somebody, and you don’t realize how much your lap times dropped off,” Pierce said. “That guy in second place is right there on you again. So, I kind of had to pull it, and I’m glad I did because it worked out.”

Pierce also extended his points lead for the second straight night over Madden. He leads by 146 points entering next weekend’s Hoosier Dirt Classic at Brownstown Speedway.

Madden crossed the line second after leading 30 laps of the Feature that went green-to-checkered. The absence of a yellow flag wasn’t something he expected, and he said he felt things may have played out differently.

“I went with a different tire combination than he did,” Madden said. “He’s got a little but more experience here than I have. I didn’t see us running 50 green flag laps, either. Maybe a couple of cautions might’ve saved me right there, but we got free toward the end. 

“We were still really good. We just put the wrong tire on.”

Shirley finished third, bouncing back from a 15th-place finish on Friday. He said he was happy with his finish but wasn’t satisfied.

“We leave here tonight with a third, and that’s definitely respectable and lets us walk out of here with our heads held high,” Shirley said. “I felt like our car, it wasn’t really a bad car, but it needs to be better. And we should’ve done a couple of little things better. That’s why you go race. To build a notebook and try and get better the next time.”

Defending Series champion Dennis Erb Jr. finished fourth, and four-time Series champion Brandon Sheppard rounded out the top five.

Mike Marlar, Saturday’s Fox Factory Hard Charger, finished sixth after starting 19th.

Feature Finish (50 Laps)

1. 32-Bobby Pierce[2]; 2. 44-Chris Madden[1]; 3. 3S-Brian Shirley[3]; 4. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[7]; 5. B5-Brandon Sheppard[4]; 6. 157-Mike Marlar[19]; 7. 97-Cade Dillard[9]; 8. B1-Brent Larson[15]; 9. 9-Nick Hoffman[6]; 10. 68-Adam Stricker[18]; 11. 96V-Tanner English[12]; 12. 19R-Ryan Gustin[10]; 13. 71C-RJ Conley[5]; 14. 55-Jesse Wisecarver[17]; 15. 40B-Kyle Bronson[13]; 16. 25-Shane Clanton[23]; 17. 14W-Dustin Walker[11]; 18. 11-Gordy Gundaker[14]; 19. 71R-Rod Conley[20]; 20. 30-Todd Cooney[21]; 21. 20-Jimmy Owens[8]; 22. 1-Shane Bailey[24]; 23. 29C-Clint Keenan[22]; 24. 17-Zack Dohm[16] FOX FACTORY HARD CHARGER: Mike Marlar [+13].