Story By: MIKE WARREN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – CHILLICOTHE, OH – Bobby Pierce is on the cusp of World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series history.
With nine races remaining in 2023, the Oakwood, IL driver is inching closer to a Series championship, which would make him the fifth driver to win the title in his first full-time season. If he holds on to his 138-point lead, he will join Billy Moyer, Scott Bloomquist, Mike Marlar, and Brandon Sheppard in that category.
But as Pierce prepares for the Outlaw Invasion at Atomic Speedway on Sept. 29-30, he has the same mindset he’s had all season.
“We’re excited to get there because every race is a new opportunity because we can get a win and gain some points,” Pierce said. “That’s how it’s been all year. We just look at every single race as a moment we can capitalize. Now, we’re just trying to stay steady and see what happens.
“We’re getting to the point where we can kind of taste it. But we don’t count our chickens before they hatch.”
Five of the nine remaining races are red-clay tracks in the South, including the World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Nov. 1-4). While those surfaces aren’t Pierce’s forte, he’s found success at them in 2023.
In two races on Southern red-clay tracks, Pierce finished seventh at 411 Motor Speedway and 21st at Talladega Short Track. However, his finish at Talladega is misleading. The “Smooth Operator” was leading the inaugural Alabama Gang 100 finale when he suffered a broken wheel and brake failure with 18 laps to go.
Those runs give him confidence heading into the season’s final stretch, especially with how well his Longhorn Chassis has run.
“We just do our best night-in and night-out to figure out,” Pierce said. “Especially at places we’ve never been before like Talladega. You just never know, though. Competition is tough to where if you miss it a little bit, you qualify bad, and who knows where you start in the Heat Race. That can determine your night. So, right off the bat, you want to learn as much as you can at those places and try to apply that to Qualifying.
“We’ve been fast no matter where we are, so hopefully we can keep that going and maybe win those races, too.”
While 2023 has been a dream season for Pierce, winning 30 times overall, so far, including 11 with the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models, his team had an uphill climb to start the year. Misfortune hit the team during Sunshine Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, where he opened the year with a 17th and 25th.
It wasn’t long before he got back on the right foot, winning the DIRTcar Nationals opener at Volusia in February. That redemption began a run of 27 top 10s in 29 races—consistency that vaulted him to the top of the Series standings.
“It was tough,” Pierce said. “I was going to possibly list out the things that have happened. But there are a lot of things that haven’t happened, too. There’s some luck that needs to happen to get to 30 wins. But we faced a lot, and we have to keep digging like always. Every race is a new race. You never know what’s going to happen. And heck, we’ve raced a lot of races this year, too. We’ve had a lot of opportunities to get redemption on some of the nights we had bad luck.
“Earlier in the year, when Volusia didn’t start out well, we came back and got that first win, and then a lot of wins started coming. Before we knew it, we had the point lead and had it stretched out. It’s pretty awesome how that can happen, and I have to give a huge thanks to my team for that. Everyone digging down deep and not giving up and trying their best, whether that’s working at the race shop or when we get to the track. It’s also been a big learning curve, so I’m pretty proud of my team.”
After that early season misfortune, he also dealt with adversity off the track. Many posts on social media included comments saying that Pierce would drop off the tour. Pierce chuckled when considering those early season comments, enjoying that he’s proved people wrong.
“It’s pretty nice, I’m not going to lie,” Pierce said. “At the moment, I didn’t think much about it because I didn’t go into the year with a lot of expectations. I set some goals but had no expectations on how it was going to go. We went in kind of blind and said let’s see what happens. I think everyone did assume that, and I was like, I want to run the Outlaws this year. And I want to travel to some of these places, and we’ve been there, done that. We’ve not only stuck it out but maybe getting a championship.
“It feels pretty nice to prove them wrong, but I don’t really do it for what people think. I just do it for us, and that’s the way you have to do it. But it does feel nice to kind of get that last laugh.”
Pierce is nine races away from potentially etching his name in World of Outlaws CASE Late Models history as the next champion. And while he’s earned several accomplishments in his career, like the 2023 USA Nationals, he said he knows the importance of cementing his place in Series lore.
“(Winning) a national Series like this is one of the biggest things you can do in the sport,” Pierce said. “Especially in our first year trying for it. I’ve always thought very highly of the World of Outlaws, and it’s a Series for me that has a lot of nostalgia to it. To possibly go and win it means an awful lot. I’ve had a lot of big race wins throughout my career, but from a championship perspective, it’s by far the biggest. I don’t know how to put it in words, but it definitely holds a lot with me.”
Pierce and the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models continue the road to the World of Outlaws World Finals with the Outlaw Invasion at Atomic Speedway on Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30.