Pierce Claims Mars Win at Lee County on Shirley’s Misfortune

Pierce Claims Mars Win at Lee County on Shirley’s Misfortune


Burbank, IL (June 24, 2020) – Friday night the Mars Racing Series presented by Rip It Energy Fuel beat mother nature and got in round two of the 2020 race season at Lee County Speedway. It was the first ever appearance for the series at the three-eights mile oval. With threatening weather in the area the nights event was in question. Eighteen late models came with their eyes on the $5,000 top prize.

In Auto Meter qualifying group A it was the winner from Thursday night, Frank Heckenast Jr who put down a lap of 15.761 seconds to be the quickest. In group B it was Chatham, Illinois driver Brian Shirley who was quickest in group B and fastest overall with a lap of 15.737 seconds. Qualifying set the starting lineups a pair of heat races that would determine who would start where in the 30 lap feature event.

Heat race one was dominated by Frank Heckenast Jr who started on the pole. El Paso, Illinois driver Ryan Unzicker came home runner up, a little over two seconds behind Heckenast Jr. Chris Simpson took third, Daryn Klein fourth and Chad Holladay finished out the top five.

The second heat race was a bit more of a race up front as Bobby Pierce tried to run down the 3S machine of Brian Shirley. Brian was able to hold on and win by just over a second on Bobby Pierce. Sheffield, IL driver Rich Bell was your third place finisher, Steve Stultz fourth and Jason Wagner in fifth.

This set the field for the 30 lap main event for the Mars Racing Series presented by Rip It Energy Fuel. Frank Heckenast Jr and Brian Shirley would start on the front row for the nights feature event after their heat race wins. On lap one it was Brian Shirley who jumped out to the race lead and started to drive away from the rest of the field. Frank Heckenast Jr settled in the second spot as Bobby Pierce and Ryan Unzicker battled for the third spot early. As the leaders caught the back of the pack and started to deal with lap traffic the top four were bunched up. With 10 laps in the books Bobby Pierce took advantage of Ryan Unzicker slipping up and taking over the third spot off turn two. 

Bobby Pierce in action Friday night at Lee County Speedway (Mike Ruefer Photo)

On lap thirteen second place runner Frank Heckenast Jr. peeked his nose under the 3S going into turn one and tried to take the lead away from Shirley as they went down the back straight away. Brian Shirley was able to repel the challenge from Heckenast Jr and remained out front as they reached turns three and four. Frank slipped up and allowed Bobby Pierce to get to his inside and take over the runner up spot as they went back across the start finish line. After they passed halfway Pierce made attempt after attempt to try and get to the inside of Shirley and make the pass for the lead but was unsuccessful. A last lap charge came from Pierce off of turn two as he got along the side of Shirley but he was unable to get the job done coming up short by 0.383 seconds. Brian Shirley was your winner as the crossed the stripe but they drivers had to cross the scales to make things official.

The first attempt for Shirley to cross the scales was unsuccessful and a second attempt had to be made to make sure he made weight. Unfortunately Brian Shirley was declared light at the scales by the DIRTcar officials. This gave the win to Bobby Pierce who had already headed back to the pit area. After Bobby was declared the winner he made the trip back out to the front stretch to join his crew and celebrate the $5,000 win. In victory lane Bobby commented that he doesn’t like to win races that way but he tries to make his car weight the same at every event. It was a redemptive win after losing an engine the night before and having a crew member drive back to his race shop to have the right engine in the car for Lee County. It was Pierce’s ninth career Mars Racing Series victory.

Bobby Pierce with his family in victory lane Friday night after being awarded the winner. (Ryan Roberts)

Frank Heckenast Jr followed up his Davenport win with a runner up finish after the disqualification of Shirley. Ryan Unzicker who came across the stripe in four was now the final driver to make the podium. Tim Manville was the hard charger of the night coming from the 17th starting spot to finish 8th. It was a tough blow for Brian Shirley after being fast all night. The Chatham, Illinois driver was dealing with the loss of a close friend who died Friday. He commented to Mars Officials that he needed to keep things in perspective. “There will be more races, I lost a close friend today. I have to be thankful for things in life like being able to go home and see my wife and kids.”

The Mars Racing Series presented by Rip It Energy Fuel looks to move on to Peoria Speedway Saturday night for the finale of the three race swing. For more information and news concerning the Rip it Energy Fuel Mars Racing Series, please visit us at www.marsracingseries.com 

Feature Finish

1 #32 Bobby Pierce MARS
2 #99JR Frank Heckenast MARS
3 #24 Ryan Unzicker MARS
4 #32S Chris Simpson MARS
5 #6 Daryn Klein MARS
6 #29 Spencer Diercks MARS
7 #33 Tim Manville MARS
8 #25F Jason Feger MARS
9 #12 Brandon Queen MARS
10 #21B Rich Bell MARS
11 #78S Steve Stultz MARS
12 #93 Jay Johnson MARS
13 #J12 Jason Wagner MARS
14 #32C Chad Holladay MARS
15 #2M Matt Mickerson MARS
16 #33F Rickey Frankel MARS
17 #3s Brian Shirley (DQ)



1 #99JR Frank Heckenast 15.761 sec
2 #24 Ryan Unzicker 
3 #32S Chris Simpson 
4 #6 Daryn Klein 
5 #32C Chad Holladay 
6 #29 Spencer Diercks 
7 #25F Jason Feger 
8 #12 Brandon Queen 
9 #33 Tim Manville 


1 #3S Brian Shirley 15.737 sec
2 #32 Bobby Pierce 
3 #21B Rich Bell 
4 #78S Steve Stultz 
5 #J12 Jason Wagner 
6 #93 Jay Johnson 
7 #33F Rickey Frankel 
8 #2M Matt Mickerson 


MARS – Qual Group 1

1 #99JR Frank Heckenast 
2 #32S Chris Simpson 
3 #6 Daryn Klein 
4 #24 Ryan Unzicker 
5 #32C Chad Holladay 
6 #29 Spencer Diercks 
7 #12 Brandon Queen 
8 #25F Jason Feger 
9 #33 Tim Manville 

MARS – Qual Group 2

1 #3S Brian Shirley 
2 #32 Bobby Pierce 
3 #78S Steve Stultz 
4 #21B Rich Bell 
5 #33F Rickey Frankel 
6 #93 Jay Johnson 
7 #J12 Jason Wagner 
8 #2M Matt Mickerson