Brandon Pierce bet on himself during the off-season and won … at least through one race in the 2019 CARS Late Model Stock Tour season.
Peirce spent last season as part of a multicar effort at Nelson Motorsports and watched teammate Bobby McCarty own the summer en route to the 2018 series championship.
He and his family sponsorship took their resources from Nelson to Lee Pulliam Performance during the offseason and it immediately paid off with a last-lap pass and victory in the season-opener on Saturday at Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, North Carolina.
Pierce captured the pole in time trials but gave way to Josh Berry in the opening stages of the race. They ran that way in the closing laps and a caution with nine laps to go, for a stalled car driven by Ronald Hill, bunched the field back up.
Berry and Pierce ran nose-to-tail over the final nine laps. Pierce gave Berry a hard shove with two laps to go, one that nearly spun Berry out. But the 2017 CARS Tour champion held on and Pierce allowed him to gather it back up.
With one lap to go, Pierce gave Berry a more respectful shot, dove under the JR Motorsports No. 88 and drove away to his first tour victory of his career.
“I’m going to going to get emotional,” Pierce said in Victory Lane, holding back tears. “I’ve worked at this for a long time. I took the off-season pretty personal. I looked at myself pretty hard. These (LLP) guys have thrashed. I reset my focus and try to see what I was missing. There was no stopping me today.”
As for those final nine laps, this is not what Pierce wanted.
“I was pretty pissed to be honest with you,” Pierce said. “I burned up my stuff just trying to get to him before the yellow. We just kept catching lap traffic wrong. Some would go high and some would go low. But I still though that if we could get a good restart, and just get down behind him, that we would have enough to get by him. He was getting tight and I was getting free and I shoved him off the bottom a little bit and got the job done.”
The first victory had an extra bonus as it also included a $10,000 payday.
“We were getting a little bit free,” Berry said of the run before the caution. “We fired off okay, but were just way too free. I just knew I had to protect the bottom. I was pretty much asking him to hit me and he did.
“It’s racing for the win. I’ve done the same thing. This isn’t my best track and we came out here and dominated. There’s something to take away from. I just wish we could have closed out.”
Pierce led the first six laps before giving way to Berry, who led up until the final lap. The race was only slowed four times for a handful of minor spins, but no major incidents.
The next race for the CARS Late Model Stock Tour will be on Saturday, March 23rd at Hickory Motor Speedway.
The complete results can be found below.
- Brandon Pierce
- Josh Berry
- Deac McCaskill
- Bobby McCarty
- Riley Herbst
- Layne Riggs
- Drew Dollar
- Stacy Puryear
- Myatt Snider
- Justin Carroll
- Tommy Lemons, Jr.
- Bradley McCaskill
- Taylor Gray
- Chad McCumbee
- Tyler Matthews
- Zack St. Onge
- Cameron Bowen
- Trevor Ward
- Mini Tyrrell
- Matt Cox
- Camden Gullie
- Terry Brooks, Jr.
- Ronald Hill
- Jonathan Findley
- Craig Moore
- Ryan Wilson
- Brody Pope
- Adam Lemke