March 28, 2001 (Middletown, IN) - After a stellar year 2000 campaign, Aaron Pierce, of Muncie, IN, is ready for the hills of Anderson Speedway and Sunday's "Glen Niebel Classic" WorldCom USAC National Midget Series race. The 2000 NAMARS ...
March 28, 2001
(Middletown, IN) - After a stellar year 2000 campaign, Aaron Pierce, of Muncie, IN, is ready for the hills of Anderson Speedway and Sunday's "Glen Niebel Classic" WorldCom USAC National Midget Series race.
The 2000 NAMARS "Rookie Of The Year," who turned age 27 today, is coming home to Anderson, his favorite track, to start the Midwest, outdoor portion of the WorldCom USAC National Midget Car Series schedule, a nation-wide tour he will compete on full-time in 2001.
"Anderson Speedway is definitely my favorite track," Pierce explained. "It's my home track (Aaron lives in Muncie, IN), and I've got a lot of laps around the track after racing there weekly in a Legends car for a few years. I've won at Anderson quite a bit in my Legends car, so I feel pretty comfortable about the USAC race. The speed and the banks don't really bother me - in fact, I like them a lot. I finished sixth there last year in a USAC race, so I know I can compete with whoever shows up on Sunday. Although anything can happen, I feel I should be able to qualify at least in the top-10 after the testing speeds I posted last week. I'm really looking forward to the race and to starting this year with the USAC circuit on a positive note."
In preparation for this weekend's "Glen Niebel Classic" doubleheader, in which the USAC Midgets will team with the fire-breathing USAC National Sprints, Aaron and the Sam Pierce Chevrolet Racing Team spent a day at Anderson Speedway getting reacquainted to the highbanks of the fastest quarter-mile paved track in the country.
"It was a really good test for myself and the Sam Pierce Chevrolet Racing Team. It was a sunny day and it was pretty warm - ideal conditions for the spring, really. But I'm not sure we'll have that type of weather on Sunday, so who knows if what we learned will apply in the race. I ran about 100 laps and felt completely comfortable. It was like going home after being in Phoenix for a week - a track I'm still learning. The times we were running at Anderson were competitive with the pole speed from last year's USAC race, so I'm confident that our testing will pay off on Sunday."
Aaron just arrived home from a week-long visit to the treacherous one-mile Phoenix International Raceway, where USAC opened up their 2001 Midget racing season. The weekend was a relatively successful one, filled with a little practice, a little experimentation, a little frustration, and finally - some speed.
"Our team tested there (PIR) earlier in the year because the track is still pretty new to us, and thought we had a pretty good setup going into the race weekend. We worked really hard on qualifying and speed, but missed the gear and shock set up, which put us a little bit behind. After those changes were made, we thought we had a pretty strong car after getting only a few more practice laps, and we were pretty confident that it should have gotten us through the Last Chance race, putting us into the Feature. Unfortunately, the race was only 10 laps and we missed it by a couple of spots. But overall, I felt really good about the weekend. We came into the weekend basically a rookie at the track, tried a few things, improved on our times, overcame a mechanical difficulty, and still almost made the show in one of the toughest races of the year. I think that shows just how good of a team I have, and what might be in store for us in the coming year."
Aaron's 2000 season will be adventure-filled, as he travels the country with USAC's national touring series in search of yet another "Rookie of the Year" award. "We'll be racing a lot this year, and will be primarily concentrating on the USAC National Midget Series," Aaron stated. "I would like to finish in the top-10 in points in the USAC Midgets. I feel that would be a pretty successful season."
This year is Aaron's seventh full season in racing, and he realizes the tremendous task in front of him, competing on one of the toughest circuits in the world. However, his goals are high, and he knows he's got the team, work ethic, equipment, external attitude and internal fortitude to compete with the best in the nation. "We have a lot to learn in USAC. After a full schedule in NAMARS last year, we felt it was the next step we could take on the ladder to move up in racing. It will be tough - the USAC National Midget Series is one of the most competitive around, and we'll need a lot of track time, but I feel that we are prepared to handle the workload. I have a great team, and we are all committed to this year's schedule. "
The first step in that process starts this weekend in Anderson, a place Aaron feels could be the beginning of a very rewarding and challenging season. "I really like Anderson Speedway. It's close to home, and I have raced there so much with my Legends car, and a few times in a Midget, that I feel really comfortable on the quarter-mile. I like the owners, like the track and I have a lot of laps there, so Sunday should be really fun."