Race Weekend Central

This Day in Dirt: Bobby Pierce Wins XR Thriller as Volunteer Speedway Loses Promoter … Again

Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: Momentum from his photo-finish win at Deer Creek over the weekend still flowing, Bobby Pierce used a tactical powerhouse move to diamond turn 2, crossover leader Devin Moran with three laps to go and drive off with the Key City Clash win as part of the XR Super Series Monday night at Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway in Iowa.

Pierce came out on top after a pitched battle with Moran than lasted for the last 15-plus circuits of the 50-lap feature and remained competitive despite a slew of late-race yellows. Pierce and Moran avoided tire trouble up front as both Ricky Thornton Jr. and Hudson O’Neal lost the lead during the feature with flat right-rear tires.

2023 KEY CITY CLASH RACE RESULTS

Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment: Pierce’s race-winning pass was a jaw-dropper, but this race may well have turned out different if an early-race incident between he and Brandon Sheppard hadn’t transpired. 

At first glance, it looked a lot like Pierce did Sheppard wrong. But listening to Sheppard’s post-race comments, he took total ownership for the contact, noting that he had his right-front tire going flat the lap BEFORE he and Pierce made contact.

That potential drama diffused, Sheppard had caught both Pierce and Moran running the low line in the closing laps of the feature. Had Sheppard not been forced to climb back through the field, he may well have had something for the top-two finishers.

What Dirt Racing Fans’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning

Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway is one of the oddest tracks running right now, from the grandstands being concentrated in the corner of turn 1 to the the bizarre shape of turn 1 and 2. The good? No getting around it, Monday’s race was a damn good show. And winner Pierce hit the nail on the head with this observation about the Dubuque racing surface.

The bad? Thanks to a production issue, the XR Events broadcast was limited to a single camera setup all night long, the camera being situated in the corner of turn 4. 

There may not be a worst track in the country to have to cover with one camera than Dubuque. One-camera streams can be a great thing when they’re set up traditionally in the center of the track, as they can reduce temptation of production trailers to go all MAVTV on viewers with blinding cuts to six cameras a lap.

In this case though, the location of the camera was a limiting factor. And being limited to one camera means things were missed, such as a move Pierce made on Moran inside of 10 laps to go to briefly take the race lead in turn 4. Fortunately, that didn’t end up being the race-winning move, but it still was a big moment to miss. So was the victory lane interview with the race winner (note: second-place Moran and third-place Sheppard were interviewed on the stream).

And let’s not forget that RaceXR is expensive for what it offers in terms of races. Their fault or not, this subscription costs enough and has infrequent enough events that when the XR Super Series races, the streams need to work, including the bells and whistles.

For as good as Monday’s racing was, the one-class program left a TON of downtime between on-track action given how much track prep had to be done over the course of the evening. 

And another for. For God’s sake Iowa, STOP WAVING GREEN FLAGS WITH TWO LAPS TO GO!!!!! There’s a reason that every other region in America signals two laps to go with “popsicle stick” flag displays … namely, that popsicle sticks have no other meaning than two to go. If the track is under green-flag conditions, the green has no reason to be displayed again. 

There was no shortage of dirt-racing fireworks away from Dubuque as well this Monday. First of all, Michael Ing, the driver that was named Villain of the Weekend in today’s “Weekend” column met swift justice, with both Placerville Speedway and the Sprint Car Challenge Tour suspending him for the remainder of their 2023 seasons.

No ifs ands or buts, both the track and touring series got this one 100% right, even if World of Outlaws regular David Gravel surprisingly disagreed with their actions.

Also breaking late Monday afternoon, in what is becoming an annual tradition of sorts Volunteer Speedway’s promoters announced they were stepping down from weekly racing at the Tennessee track in a manner resembling how I’d imagine an entitled high-school brat would quit a job at Panera Bread. Nothing like owning the keyboard warriors by behaving just as petulantly.

To all my fellow track promoters. We made the best decision we have ever made this morning pertaining to running a…

Posted by Volunteer Speedway on Monday, July 10, 2023

The tenor of this news aside, it’s a damn shame to see one of the few tracks in the country trying to run super late models as a weekly class drop off the radar, especially when the payout ($3,000 to win) was good enough to draw some big name. Here’s hoping Volunteer’s touring events at a minimum go off this year.

Dirt Racing’s Hero of the Day

I’m giving this honor to the race winner Pierce. His race-winning pass can be found starting at 4:44 in the highlight reel below. Wheelman material.

Dirt Racing’s Victim of the Night

Tyler Erb endured the hardest crash of the night at Dubuque, an incident that did not get captured by the single XR camera in operation on the evening. Regardless of how it happened, the damage to Era’s car was catastrophic.

After that incident, I can’t help but wonder if Erb would be as complimentary of the XR tour as he was earlier in the day.

Numbers Game

1

Number of dirt tracks in the US that ran an oval-track racing program Monday night.

40

The nation’s largest car count Monday night, the Key City Clash at Dubuque.

$20,000

The nation’s largest purse Monday night, paid to the winner of the Key City Clash at Dubuque (Pierce).

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back Wednesday morning (July 12) with coverage of the the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series from Davenport Speedway in Iowa and the World of Outlaws at Attica Raceway Park in Ohio. Coverage can be found on Flo Racing and DirtVision, respectively.

About the author

Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.

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