The Throwback 276 for Brandon Pierce was far from a pleasant weekend, as he and his crew battled numerous issues with his #1 Lee Pulliam tribute Late Model that ultimately put them at the back of the field for the 138-lap feature.
By the time the checkered flag flew, Pierce had provided the packed house at Hickory Motor Speedway a reminder of how dominant Pulliam was with that scheme by driving his car up to 7th place on a late green-flag run.
“It was a lot of fun to drive,” Pierce said. “I have to give credit to everyone on the team for keeping me in check. I didn’t say much on the radio, as I was honed in and focused on trying to be patient and picking those guys off one by one.”
Pierce had shown decent speed when his car hit the track for the first time on Friday, but he knew that he would have to make some adjustments before qualifying began after he posted only the 26th quickest time in the final session on Saturday.
Although he felt that his team made the right changes to the car, qualifying proved to be disastrous for Pierce after he only managed to post a lap of 15.503, which forced him to use an owner points provisional to qualify for the Throwback 276.
“We’re not sure if we got off on an adjustment or if a spring just collapsed on us, but it bottomed out really hard through both ends of the racetrack,” Pierce said. “For what we put in the car setup-wise, it should not have done that. We’re going to look into it and try to find what it was, but I didn’t let that get us down, and Lee didn’t either.”
Pierce moved up one spot on the starting grid after Jessica Cann withdrew from the event, but he would forgo that position to make more adjustments to his car during the pace laps, which he hoped would finally get his car to where it needed to be for the feature.
With 28 other drivers in the race and with the chaos from the Cloer Construction 300 in March still fresh in everyone’s mind, Pierce elected to ride around and save his tires through the first two competition cautions on Lap 40 and 80 so that he could make a run towards the front during the closing stages.
On the final restart of the night, Pierce began rocketing his way to the front by carving his way through cars that were slower or had used up their equipment earlier in the race, which put him inside the Top 10 with less than 20 laps remaining.
Pierce began to run down drives such as Josh Berry, Sammy Smith and Layne Riggs before the Throwback 276 came to a close with him in the seventh position, but even though Pierce was happy with the outcome after his earlier issues, he stated that the race’s clean nature prevented him from contending for the win.
“I was in shock that we did not get a caution,” Pierce said. “That’s the first race I’ve been a part of where we did not have a natural caution. We were kind of banking on it, as I saved a little bit just in case we got one. We were way faster than anyone else coming through there and I felt like we needed another restart. Unfortunately, we just ran out of time.”
With Berry and Bobby McCarty firmly in control of the CARS LMSC Tour points battle, Pierce is solely focused on winning during the final two races of the season and is confident that he can accomplish that goal in the series’ next race at Orange County Speedway on Aug. 24.
Pierce considers Orange County to be his favorite race track, as he has scored finishes of second, seventh and fifth in his three races at the facility.
Cover photo by Corey Latham.