ROSSBURG, Ohio — Bobby Pierce led the list of five heat race winners for Wednesday night’s Aspen Dental Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway, earning the pole after leading nine of 10 laps and winning the first heat race at the half-mile dirt oval.
Pierce took the top spot from fast qualifier Caleb Holman on lap two of the 10-lap event, running away to a more than two-second victory over Holman at the checkered flag.
Jordan Anderson ran into a lot of trouble in heat one, spinning after contact with John Hunter Nemechek and backing his No. 66 truck into the outside wall, drawing the caution after a single lap. He also crashed on the final lap, hitting the frontstretch wall while racing Wayne Edwards for sixth.
None of that was of any consequence to Pierce, however — who sits on the pole after winning this year’s DIRTcar Summer Nationals late model championship and finishing second for the Mittler Brothers in the Dirt Derby one year ago.
“It;s really fun out there,” Pierce said with a grin after earning the feature pole for the second consecutive year. “The track’s in awesome shape. Yeah, its fast and it’s got a cushion, but it’s not rough out there – it’s as smooth as I think any of us could have expected. I honestly thought we’d have a better starting spot in the heat, but it all worked out for us in the end.”
“If we can keep the nose of the truck out of the track I think we’ll have a really fun night. We’ll definitely have a shot at it once we get to race time.”
Tyler Reddick led all 10 laps of a caution-free second heat, taking the win over dirt ace and former sprint car and midget regular Kyle Larson.
Reddick will join Pierce on the front row, starting second for the 150-lap main event at Eldora.
“We’ve got quite a good little cushion in (turns) one and two; three and four is a little more in the sun
Ken Schrader dominated the third heat from the pole, leading every lap as chaos and carnage erupted behind him.
Series points leader William Byron spun with four laps to go, coming back to finish fourth and transfer directly to the main, while Rico Abreu and Travis Kvapil got together down the backstretch on the ensuing restart after Abreu went three-wide in an attempt to advance from fifth to second — causing heavy damage to both machines and sending both to the Last Chance Qualifier.
J.R. Heffner wired the fourth heat claim the outside of row two on the Dirt Derby starting grid, leading Spencer Gallagher and Brandon Brown home in the 10-lap sprint.
Tyler Young edged out Chris Fontaine by inches to claim the fifth and final direct transfer spot to the 150-lap main, in a photo finish that saw the duo bang doors and Fontaine lose just enough momentum on the outside to miss the cut.
Kentucky’s Ben Rhodes rounded out the five heat winners and earned the fifth starting spot after leading every lap of the final 10-lap heat, holding off defending Eldora winner Christopher Bell over the second half of the run to grab the victory.
RESULTS: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series; Aspen Dental Dirt Derby; Eldora Speedway; July 20, 2016
Heat One (10 laps; top five transfer to A-Main): 1. Bobby Pierce, 2. Caleb Holman, 3. Jake Griffin, 4. Brady Boswell, 5. John Hunter Nemechek, 6. Wayne Edwards, 7. Jordan Anderson, 8. Caleb Roark.
Heat Two (10 laps; top five transfer to A-Main): 1. Tyler Reddick, 2. Kyle Larson, 3. Stewart Friesen, 4. Ben Kennedy, 5. Matt Crafton, 6. Austin Self, 7. Korbin Forrister, 8. Cody Coughlin.
Heat Three (10 laps; top five transfer to A-Main): 1. Ken Schrader, 2. Johnny Sauter, 3. Justin Shipley, 4. William Byron, 5. Cole Custer, 6. Rico Abreu, 7. Travis Kvapil.
Heat Four (10 laps; top five transfer to A-Main): 1. J.R. Heffner, 2. Spencer Gallagher, 3. Brandon Brown, 4. Timothy Peters, 5. Tyler Young, 6. Chris Fontaine, 7. Norm Benning.
Heat Five (10 laps; top five transfer to A-Main): 1. Ben Rhodes, 2. Christopher Bell, 3. Daniel Hemric, 4. Cameron Hayley, 5. Sheldon Creed, 6. Sean Corr, 7. Jennifer Jo Cobb.
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Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
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