Aaron Pierce New NAMARS National And Regional Midget Series Points Leader After Strong 2nd-Place Finish At Columbus (OH) Motor Speedway (Middletown, IN) - After several weeks of rain, and on a day in Columbus, Ohio which looked to be doomed to...
Aaron Pierce New NAMARS National And Regional Midget Series Points Leader After Strong 2nd-Place Finish At Columbus (OH) Motor Speedway
(Middletown, IN) - After several weeks of rain, and on a day in Columbus, Ohio which looked to be doomed to the weather once more, Aaron Pierce and the Sam Pierce Chevrolet Racing Team finished the day on a bright note by finishing second in the NAMARS Championship and Regional Midget Series race at the Columbus (OH) Motor Speedway, Saturday, June 2. This strong finish enabled Pierce to leap into the points lead in both the NAMARS Championship (national) and Regional Midget Series.
"I didn't know if we'd race because of the rain - I thought it would probably rain out," Aaron explained of the early portion of the day. "We didn't get much practice, maybe three or four laps. The car was fast, but I didn't know how fast until the heat when I found out I was really a lot faster than Gene Lee (Gibson), and he's usually fast there." The team made little or no changes after hot laps to prepare for qualifying, which was eventually cancelled, and the teams lined up for heat races by a draw. Starting in the fifth position, Aaron quickly moved into the second spot and finished there to earn a transfer to the Feature.
With 30 laps in front of him, Aaron planned a careful strategy to weave his way through some tough competition in front of him. "During the feature, the first few laps were hectic. There were cars getting squirrelly in the corners, then one guy laid down a bunch of oil. But the car seemed to come in real good after about five laps, but that's all we really got all night because of so many yellow flags. It was a five-lap dash here, a dash there. If I had gotten a long run, I think I would have definitely gotten by A.J. (Davis, the eventual winner), and probably would have won. Dave Baumgartner (who won a race earlier in the year at Shadybowl Speedway after Aaron, leading the race, ran out of fuel) ran me clean and had a really good night. I have raced with A.J. so much and we know each other so well, and it's really hard to pass someone who knows you so well. A.J. did a great job," Aaron said after a hard-fought battle with his long-time friend and competitor.
You are now leading the both the NAMARS National and Regional point standings. How do you feel about that and how will that position at this point in the year affect your race strategy or planning?
"I really didn't expect it (leading the point standings in two different divisions), to tell you the truth. But I'm not going to pay any attention to the points. If you do, you get too involved with it and go backwards. I'll try to make each race and finish them all, and the points will take care of themselves. Sure, I'd like to win both championships, but there's a long way to go in the season."
You got into second place pretty easily in Columbus and probably could have pressed the issue of getting the win - were you thinking about points at that time, or just taking what you could get?
"A little bit of everything. In the heat race, I could have punted Gene Lee (Gibson). He would have expected it, but I didn't do it. I also could have punted A.J. to try to get the win, but I ran him clean instead. I took what we could get, tried to finish the race and load the car up. I was trying to win, too, but we took what we could get. I would rather race someone and pass them cleanly than drive them rough and spin them out to get the spot."
Will you now focus on the NAMARS series instead of chasing USAC points?
"My original plan was to try to run for the USAC "Rookie Of The Year" points, and then fit in as many other races around that schedule as possible. So far this season, I haven't had to choose - there have been no NAMARS races that have conflicted with the USAC shows, so I've tried to make them all. I'd still like to run for USAC points, but we'll just have to wait and see how the next month goes before I have to make a decision."
You've had a little trouble during the USAC events you've tried to run this year - what are your thoughts about the reasons for those troubles?
"At IRP for the "Night Before The 500" race, which was the fifth time I've run there and only the second time with that car, I missed the feature by one spot. I had a little problem with one specific gentleman, and it ended up costing both of us a transfer spot. At Cedar Rapids, I did pretty well, and was happy with that race - we qualified fifth out of around 30 cars, and finished ninth. At Anderson, there's no reason why I shouldn't have made that race. I was running high like I always do there, and another youngster from California stuck me in the wall. Phoenix was an experience deal. I had a new car, and it's a new track for me. We didn't get very many hot laps at all, and I just needed a bit more experience, although we also only missed the show by a couple of spots."
Your next two races will be at the Speedrome - you have been racing there a lot this year. Most people think of that track as a place to begin their careers. Tell me about the tough competition you've faced this year and a little bit about the challenges you face there each week.
"I like that place a lot and have raced there a bunch. There is a lot of competition there, and they've got a good track record established. I've never run as fast as I know I can all year this year - I know the car can go a lot faster, but we just haven't hit the setup yet. The Speedrome is a good place to polish your racing skills, not just learn. A lot of guys don't want to race for $500 a night, but I like the place and I'm just going to go and have fun."
You are currently building a dirt midget and will be starting the dirt racing portion of your schedule soon. Are you comfortable on the dirt? How will you change your approach to the dirt races as opposed to your preparation for a pavement show?
"I'm really excited about running on the dirt again. I was just getting the hang of it at the end of last year. I was pretty fast at Terre Haute at the end of last year, and that's a pretty good test. Really the preparation is not much different than with a pavement car - you still have to maintain the car, mount tires, and all of that. The biggest thing on dirt is getting the car to handle and learn how the car and the track are supposed to feel. Once I got a handle on how dirt is supposed to feel, it was easier to race. This car will be a brand new car from last year's car, and I'm not sure how it will react. It'll probably be different, but who knows. Dirt's more fun than pavement, but the two surfaces have two completely different styles of racing you have to learn in order to be fast."
-Aaron Pierce Racing