The Solid Rock Carriers 125 at Carteret County Speedway was a weekend to forget for Brandon Pierce, who found himself suspended from the Solid Rock Carriers CARS LMSC Tour for one week after triggering a multi-car accident.
Pierce, who has not been to victory lane in the CARS LMSC Tour since the season-opener at Southern National Motorsports Park in 2019, believed that he had a car more than capable of breaking his losing streak at Carteret County, but was disappointed in how everything unfolded for him on track.
“The guys have been bringing me fast cars every week,” Pierce said. “We had a really fast car at Langley, but I think we had a bad set of tires because that’s the only thing we changed, and things went south for us pretty quick. We were quick again at Carteret and I was just biding my time trying to stay up at the front.”
With track position being at a premium for the Solid Rock Carriers 125, Pierce succeeded in keeping his #2 with the lead group in Mini Tyrrell, Corey Heim and Layne Riggs, the latter of which ended up leading every single lap to secure his second consecutive CARS LMSC Tour victory.
When it was announced to the drivers that the race would end at an 11:00 p.m. curfew following a second red flag for track repairs, Pierce expected his competition to start getting more aggressive, but he found himself on the high side for the ensuing restart, which had proven to be a disadvantage all evening.
Pierce wanted to get to the bottom quickly so he could fall in line and pick his way through the competition and the others without causing an accident, but he admitted that he found himself in a worst case scenario while Tyrrell, Heim and Justin Johnson battled each other for the third position.
“There’s a big dip out of Turn 2, so if you’re on top, you have to get through as smooth as you possibly can to hold your own until you can get down,” Pierce said. “I was tucked in behind Mini and keeping [Johnson] tight to my inside, but I saw Mini wash up a little bit so I hit the brakes hard on entry and through the center. When I got back in the gas, I got a killer run off the corner, but I just misjudged the run.”
Tyrrell ended up getting turned by Pierce into Johnson while the rest of the field checked up to avoid the accident. Pierce escaped with moderate damage to his front end, but Tyrrell, Johnson, Chad McCumbee, Jonathan Findley, Trevor Ward, Jonathan Shafer and Jessica Cann were all eliminated from the race once the chaos had concluded.
Several drivers, including Tyrrell and Findley, voiced their frustrations after the race over the maneuver that was pulled by Pierce, who took full responsibility for the multi-car pileup and offered his apologies to those who were involved.
“I talked to Mini and his crew chief Brandon Butler, and of course they were both upset,” Pierce said. “I told all of them that it was 110 percent my fault and that I was extremely sorry. There was nothing intentional by any means, but I didn’t do anything different than what any other race car driver has done. I made a mistake and took out eight cars.”
In the three years that the CARS LMSC Tour has visited Carteret County, a major accident has unfolded during each race, with the one transpiring in 2019 involving eventual series champion Bobby McCarty as he was attempting to erase his points deficit Josh Berry, who went on to win the event.
Pierce said that the tight corners of Carteret County require drivers to be mentally focused to prevent major accidents, but he said that he is ready to move on from that dismal weekend and spend the extra time helping his team fix the damaged Late Model with him being suspended from the Aaron’s 250 at Florence Motor Speedway.
“Every time you pull out of the shop, your goal is to put your best foot forward and try to win the race,” Pierce said. “We knew Layne was going to be the car to beat, and I’m not sure if we had anything for him, but I think we had a car just as good as Mini’s. We’ll never know what could have happened, but we’re grinding away to get this car fixed and ready to go for the next one.”
Pierce’s next race with the CARS LMSC Tour will be the season-ending Old North State Nationals that are tentatively scheduled to take place at Orange County Speedway on Oct. 18.