A number of the top stars in Dirt Late Model racing headed west for this weekend to take part in the highly lucrative Karl Chevrolet ‘Duel in the Desert’ event held on the dirt track located near NASCAR’s Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In the end, it was Bobby Pierce who staked claim to the win at the Nevada track. The Pierce Race Cars driver from Oakwood, Illinois earned a monster payday for the triumph.
The race was meant as a $50,000-to-win event. However, any driver who held perfect attendance in all of the RaceXR events held at Bristol Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway were eligible for the Karl Chevrolet Double Down Triple Crown bonus. With Pierce having fulfilled that requirement, he was awarded $100,000 for his efforts.
A total of 30 cars were signed in for competition.
Ricky Thornton Jr. was fastest in Group A qualifying after he turned a lap of 17.907 seconds around the 4/10 mile clay oval to beat out Tim McCreadie, Cody Laney, Billy Moyer Jr., Bobby Pierce and Chris Ferguson.
Brandon Overton took Group B honors with an effort of 16.934 seconds besting Jonathan Davenport, Jeff Smith, Joe Godsey, Scott Bloomquist and Josh Richards.
Ricky Thornton Jr. won the first heat of the evening over Billy Moyer Sr., Johnny Scott and Bobby Pierce while Tim McCreadie was victorious in the second preliminary topping Billy Moyer Jr., Chris Ferguson and Morgan Bagley.
Brandon Overton defeated Scott Bloomquist Jeff Smith and Jason Papich in the third heat just before Jonathan Davenport the fourth and final heat ahead of Josh Richards, Joe Godsey and Boom Briggs.
Justin Duty won the lone B-main over Rusty Schlenk, Cody Laney and Bricen James.
Prior to the start, pole sitter Overton encountered an issue with a loose wheel and had to drop to the rear of the field.
At the start of the 77-lap feature race it was Thornton who shot to the early lead with Davenport, McCreadie, Richards and Bloomquist trailing. Davenport went on the move on the second circuit as he wrested the lead away from Thornton but a lap 6 yellow flag would slow the pace when the top-5 running car of Bloomquist slowed on the track.
At that point, Davenport led Thornton, McCreadie, Richards and Moyer Sr. Just after the restart, McCreadie made his way to second while Moyer jumped up to fourth with all the front runners choosing to run high against the cushion in the early going. Richards regained fourth as he moved around Moyer on lap 10 just before a yellow flag was displayed when third-running Thornton suffered a flat tire.
On the lap 10 restart, Pierce stormed all the way up to third just behind Davenport and McCreadie.
Ferguson pulled himself into contention on lap 17 when he passed by Johnny Scott to move into the top-5. Two laps later the No. 01 car moved around Richards to grab fourth with Scott following behind to seize fifth as Richards fell back.
At the lap 20 mark, Davenport maintained the lead of the race but McCreadie kept the No. 49 machine in his sights. T-Mac closed in as the leaders worked though slower traffic and appeared poised to make a bid for the lead but a lap 26 caution for a flat tire on the Ferguson car froze the running order.
Pierce went to second on the lap 26 restart and set off after Davenport until Myer Jr. slowed on lap 33 to bring out another yellow flag. Thornton began to rise through the running order after the lap 33 restart as he returned to the top-5 recovering from his earlier issues.
Pierce kept pace with Davenport through the middle stages of the race as he moved to his characteristic high line around the track. But just after a lap 42 restart, hard racing behind the leader ensued as Pierce, McCreadie and Thornton fought for position. Moyer Sr. also entered the fray as he passed by McCreadie to take the fourth position.
Attrition began to take its toll as numerous cars had been retired from action by the 30 to go mark in the event with Davenport continuing to lead over Pierce, Thornton, Moyer and McCreadie.
On lap 48, the action began to pick up as Thornton went around Pierce for second then began to apply pressure to Davenport for the lead. Suddenly, Davenport’s car began to show signs of smoke as Thornton pulled alongside. Then, Davenport crashed into the turn three wall on lap 54 ending the night for the car that appeared to be on its way to a second straight victory.
Pierce then went to the lead on the lap 54 restart with Thornton, Richards, Moyer and McCreadie in his wake. Pierce and Thornton engaged in a side-by-side fight for the top spot with 20 laps remaining as Richards closed from third. However, tires continued to play a role in the action as a caution for a flat on the Papich machine came out on lap 59.
McCreadie found trouble with 14 circuits remaining when he clipped a tractor tire bringing out another caution flag. The running at the time was Pierce leading followed by Thornton, Moyer, Richards and Johnny Scott. Richards began to charge as he moved to second on lap 66 although Pierce had built an advantage of more than two seconds by that time.
Richards began to cut into the margin when Pierce found himself among slower traffic with five laps to go. But in the end, it would be Pierce who would take the checkered flag and the lucrative payday that went with it.
Feature Finish: 1. Bobby Pierce, 2. Josh Richards, 3. Ricky Thornton Jr., 4. Billy Moyer Sr., 5. Johnny Scott, 6. Scott Bloomquist, 7. Billy Moyer Jr., 8. Morgan Bagley, 9. Chris Ferguson, 10. Jason Papich, 11. Rusty Schlenk, 12. Boom Briggs, 13. Jeff Smith, 14. Jason Miles, 15. Brody Montgomery, 16. Steve Stultz, 17. Tim McCreadie, 18. Jonathan Davenport, 19. Justin Duty, 20. Cody Laney, 21. Brandon Overton, 22. Steve Stultz, 23. Rob Mayea, 24. Joe Godsey