NEWTON, N.C. – Audio and recap by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman – Chris Seelman photo –
Aaron Pierce has taken a liking to coming south from Indiana for Must See Racing Xtreme Sprint Series (MSRXSS) competition.
A year after taking the season-opening MSRXSS victory in the Florida panhandle, Pierce returned south and schooled the competition again – this time at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway – winning the 25-lap qualifying feature for the inaugural “Southern Showdown” at Hickory in dominating fashion and earning the pole position for Saturday’s A-main as a result.
Pierce blew by polesitter and early race leader Jeff Bloom on lap six of the preliminary event, pulling out to a straightaway adavntage over Jimmy McCune and hanging on for the win despite the left side of his top wing collapsing just past halfway in Friday evening’s action.
Pierce said despite how bad the top wing on the car looked, he never felt a major change or loss in speed in his No. 26 Sam Pierce Chevrolet/Tom Cherry Mufflers/Valvoline entry on the way to victory lane.
“I really couldn’t tell it was like that at all,” Pierce said in victory lane. “This thing would have hauled [the mail] without a wing on it. It was a great car, dominant, and I was just trying to keep those guys behind me. I started getting a little loose about halfway, but I just worked at driving it straight and keeping the tires on it – and here we are with a win.”
“It should be a good race tomorrow, but they’re (other competitors) gonna have to get quicker, because we’re good.”
Jimmy McCune slipped past Bloom at lap 13 and gave chase to Pierce, but by then, the Indiana driver had already built a near-straightaway advantage – and McCune said he was powerless to chase Pierce down, despite Pierce’s wounded race car.
“We just got real tight there in the race,” McCune said. “[We were] just kind of searching around the race track to see where it was [most free] at and then when I found a spot I liked I just ran there the rest of the race because of the circumstances of where my car was.”
“We’ve been searching all day [for grip] and now we’ve got too much. But we’ll take our effort from tonight, go into tomorrow – we’ve got a pretty good starting spot – and just go from there.”
Dirt track regular Johnny Bridges slipped past Bloom in the final corner to take the last spot on the podium – impressing many with his overall effort after posting the second-quickest lap in time trials earlier in the afternoon, despite a broken sideboard on his wing thwarting a run at quick time.
“That legend, Jeff Bloom, he was tough,” Bridges grinned after the race. “I had to work him the whole race – we had ourselves a good little fight there. His car just started going away in the middle of the corner and I got him. All in all, not a bad night for a car that runs primarily on dirt!”
Bloom finished fourth, the final car on the lead lap, and two-time Little 500 champion Jacob Wilson rounded out the top five at the checkered flag.
After an aborted start when Cody Gallogly jumped the initial green flag, the race ran non-stop without a caution.
With the starting grid set by the results of the qualifier, Pierce and McCune will start on the front row of Saturday night’s 40-lap Southern Showdown A-main event, part of the 10th annual Easter Bunny 150 program for the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models.
Pierce kicked off the day by setting quick time around the 0.363-mile oval with a lap of 12.349 seconds (105.822 mph). The lap was a shade off the all-time sprint car track record at Hickory of 12.112 seconds, set by Kevin Swindell in 2005.
For more information on Must See Racing, including results, driver information and race updates, log onto www.mustseeracing.com.
Audio with race winner Aaron Pierce:
Audio with runner-up Jimmy McCune:
Audio with third-place Johnny Bridges:
RESULTS: Must See Racing Xtreme Sprint Series; Southern Showdown; Hickory Motor Speedway; Newton, N.C.; April 3, 2015
Time Trials (best lap of two): 1) #26 – Aaron Pierce, 12.349 seconds; 2) #07X – Johnny Bridges, 12.698; 3) #88 – Jimmy McCune, 12.878; 4) #07 – Jacob Wilson, 12.893; 5) #27 – Cody Gallogly, 13.077; 6) #26B – Jeff Bloom, 13.210; 7) #59III – Johnny Petrozelle, 13.297; 8) #81 – Jason Blonde, 13.853; 9) #35 – Derek Bischak, 13.929; 10) #21K – Joe Napoleon, 14.177; 11) #44 – Anthony McCune, 14.989.
Must See Racing “Southern Showdown” Qualifier at Hickory Motor Speedway (25 laps):
- #26 – Aaron Pierce, Daleville, IN
- #88 – Jimmy McCune, Toledo, OH
- #07X – Johnny Bridges, Cherryville, NC
- #26B – Jeff Bloom, Bangor, MI
- #07 – Jacob Wilson, Crawfordsville, IN
- #59III – Johnny Petrozelle, Denton, NC
- #21K – Joe Napoleon, Magnolia, TX
- #44 – Anthony McCune, Sylvania, OH
- #27 – Cody Gallogly, Pataskala, OH
- #35 – Derek Bischak, Indianapolis, IN
- #81 – Jason Blonde, Litchfield, MI (DNS)