THINK LIKE A GOPHER: Bobby Pierce Wins Second Consecutive NAPA Gopher 50 at Deer Creek Speedway

The 2023 Series champion used a classic slide-job pass to capture his second crown jewel victory at the Spring Valley, MN track 

SPRING VALLEY, MN (July 6, 2024) – Bobby Pierce dug deep like a gopher to win his second consecutive NAPA Auto Parts Gopher 50 at Deer Creek Speedway. 

The Oakwood, IL driver had to creatively maneuver his way through the stout field of World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model competitors and pass four-time Series champion Brandon Sheppard for his second Gopher triumph. 

Beginning the Feature from the second row, Pierce squeezed his way to second place after a four-wide chase for the spot on the first lap of the 75-lap race. 

While in second, he had to juggle keeping Sheppard within reach while having to also worry about Friday winner Ryan Gustin behind him. The Marshalltown, IA driver was using every inch of the track to craft strong runs toward the front. 

Pierce needed traffic to hamper Sheppard’s lead, but an excess number of cautions helped keep the No. B5 Sheppard Riggs Racing Longhorn in clean air. 

But with 15 laps to go, Pierce found the opportunity to craft his move for the lead. Sliding low on Sheppard through Turn 3, the two drivers entered a dead heat for the top spot – set to award $50,000. 

On the next lap, Pierce got enough of a run around the high side of the track to clear Sheppard for the lead. 

His time out front nearly slipped away after he jumped the cushion in Turn 4 on Lap 65, but a caution on the same lap for Cody Overton flipping behind him gave Pierce the respite he needed to be ready for the final 10-lap dash. 

From there, the No. 32 Low Voltage Solutions Longhorn Chassis stayed on the rails toward victory as the “Smooth Operator” won his fifth Series Feature of 2024 and third consecutive win at Deer Creek Speedway with a national dirt Late Model tour. 

“First off, the track was great,” Pierce said. “It moved up towards the top, but that’s where you had to be. It was so technical out there, but it was an awesome race with me and Brandon. He was driving the wheels off that thing, and I had to do my best to keep up with him. The cautions kept coming out and I was getting irritated because I knew it had to take some lapped traffic to get the job done, eventually pulled the slider and got the job done. 

“This race is awesome, and the fans showed up, with Dylan Scott showing up and I’m a fan and we’ve been buddies for a little bit now. This is the third time we’ve shown up to this race, and we’ve always showed up for the big-money race. I wanted to win this race again badly, and this helps turn our year around. With the bad luck we’ve had, this helps get some momentum back. The nerves were pretty high, it was a hassle, but I was glad to see the checkered flag.” 

Sheppard finished second, disappointed not to win but proud of the effort made in the 75-lap endurance battle. 

“I’m a little bit disappointed in myself there,” Sheppard said. “I wasn’t aggressive enough in lap traffic and pretty much gave that one away there. Just put that in the memory bank to get up on the wheel a little bit more. To beat Bobby, he’s been good all year and will be tough the rest of the year, so we gotta do all we can to be more aggressive in lap traffic. It’s on me, my team has done a really good job, the car’s been great, it was just one of them days.” 

Capturing his second podium with the Series in 2024, New Waverly, TX driver Tyler Erb completed the night’s podium by completing a last-lap pass on Gustin. His seven-position climb through the 75 laps earned “Terbo” the Fox Factory Hard Charger Award. 

“The first 40 laps were pretty wide open,” Erb said. “Everyone was going about the same speed, and we haven’t been good in that condition the whole time we’ve been here. The track started to slow down and widen out and got to the fence. I could maneuver really good. I wasn’t making much hay on the restarts. It would take about five laps to get moving and make something happen. It was our best showing of the three races and progressively got better over the last 24 hours here. It feels good, our guys are working really hard, and keep trying to win some races.” 

Gustin finished fourth place, and Mooresville, NC driver Nick Hoffman completed the night’s top five finishers from the Gopher 50.

Sheppard enters the next race as the Series points leader with an 18-point lead over Hoffman. Pierce is third, 154 points behind Sheppard. 

RECAP NOTES: 

Dirt King Simulator Hottest Hot Lap: Tyler Bruening 

Dash Winners: Ryan Gustin, Tyler Stevens 

Last Chance Showdown Winner: Dustin Sorensen 

Fox Factory Hard Charger: Tyler Erb 

Up Next: The World of Outlaws CASE Late Models make their second trip to Pennsylvania and Ohio with Bedford Speedway on Thursday, July 11, and Sharon Speedway on July 12-13. For more information on the events and tickets, CLICK HERE

If you can’t make it to the tracks, you can watch every lap live on DIRTVision.  

CASE Late Model Feature (75 Laps): 1. 32-Bobby Pierce[3]; 2. B5-Brandon Sheppard[2]; 3. 1-Tyler Erb[10]; 4. 19R-Ryan Gustin[1]; 5. 9-Nick Hoffman[4]; 6. 25-Chad Simpson[11]; 7. 16-Tyler Bruening[7]; 8. 40B-Kyle Bronson[6]; 9. 3S-Brian Shirley[16]; 10. 97-Cade Dillard[12]; 11. 19-Dustin Sorensen[17]; 12. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[8]; 13. 18-Shannon Babb[5]; 14. 18C-Chase Junghans[15]; 15. 22*-Max McLaughlin[18]; 16. B1-Brent Larson[14]; 17. 76-Blair Nothdurft[20]; 18. 20TC-Tristan Chamberlain[23]; 19. 97JR-Cody Overton[21]; 20. 43-Derrick Stewart[22]; 21. 14W-Dustin Walker[24]; 22. 49-Jake Timm[13]; 23. 11H-Lance Hofer[19]; 24. 29-Tyler Stevens[9]

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