To say that Brandon Pierce had a tumultuous 2020 season would be an understatement. He found himself in a lot of tough situations and was even suspended from the CARS Tour following an on-track incident at Carteret County Speedway.
Pierce admits that 2020 wasn’t full of his finest moments but the young driver has had flashes of brilliance in the past and hopes that his offseason break and refocusing will help him get back to racing upfront without incident.
“Last year obviously wasn’t the year we wanted,” Pierce said. “There was a lot of bad luck even though we had speed a lot of times. I didn’t do what I needed to do a lot of times and didn’t qualify as good as we needed to and put us in bad positions.”
Pierce is looking to minimize his mistakes in 2021 and get back to the basics.
“This year we’ve got to get back to the basics,” Pierce commented. “I’ve got to minimize mistakes, we had a few too many last year and you can’t do that against the level of competition on the CARS Tour. It falls on me. Lee (Pulliam) and the guys give me a good car every week and I’ve got to do the things that it takes to put us up front.”
He will begin his third season behind the wheel of a Lee Pulliam prepared car at this weekend’s IceBreaker at Florence Motor Speedway. Pierce knows that it’s important to get off to a good start.
“We had a great first year with Lee and winning at Southern National,” Pierce explained. “Lee and the guys have been working hard this winter to get us all ready. We went and tested and I feel good about it. I didn’t get to run last year at Florence because of my suspension but I went and watched. I try to be a student and learn even when I’m not in the car. I’m hoping we can get off to a good start this weekend.”
He’s hoping that spending time away from the race car for a few weeks, going hunting a lot and doing the things he loves outside of racing will help get him back to where he was before.
“There were so many unknowns last year not just in racing,” Pierce stated. “I work full time and with people in and out last year, a lot of times I come to the track just exhausted already. I worked a lot of hours and the shifting schedule of the CARS Tour and all it was just a lot to take on. This offseason I really got back to doing what I loved outside of racing. I hunted a lot with Lee and did some other things that really has me refocused.”
Pierce feels like his refocused energy and the work that the team has put in this winter really has them poised for a good year.
“I feel like it’s going to be a good year,” Pierce exclaimed. “We tested good but anyone can test good, we’ve got to go and run good and get this season started off right. It’s a whole lot easier when you’re running good to get better than it is when you’re playing catch up or tearing up your car. I’m more focused and we’re getting back to the basics that have worked for us before.”
Pierce is looking to run more races than he’s run since his rookie season this year. He has a 19-20 race schedule carved out right now but he remains committed to the CARS Tour.
“The CARS Tour just makes you feel like you’re wanted,” Pierce said. “I know it sounds kinda cliché but they do. Jack (McNelly, the series owner) makes it a point to greet every competitor. Obviously, along with that, they have the best of the best racing there whether it’s Josh Berry or Bobby McCarty or Layne Riggs or someone else. They are the best in Late Model Stock Car racing right now and you want to beat the best and you know you have if you win a CARS Tour race.”
Pierce also says the media and fan following of the CARS Tour makes it more appealing than other options but he’s also excited to get the chance to get back to Motor Mile Speedway this season with the track being reopened after another season of being shuttered. He also plans to run the major NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model Stock Car races including the Virginia Triple Crown and the South Carolina 400.
“You’ll see me more than ever this season or at least since my rookie season,” Pierce concluded. “I really feel like we’re going to run a lot this season. A bad season last year will hopefully help fuel a good season this year.”
Pierce along with likely 30 plus other Late Model Stock Car drivers will make the voyage to Timmonsville, SC and the Florence Motor Speedway this weekend for the IceBreaker. It should be one of the best races of the early 2021 season and a fresh start for many who struggled through 2020.
Cover photo by Dinah Mullins.