By Ken de la Bastide CNHI News Service
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — Aaron Pierce continued his dominance of the USSA Sprint Car Challenge by winning Saturday for the third time this season and capturing the inaugural championship.
On UAW Paint the Night Pink at Anderson Speedway, which raised over $20,000 to fight breast cancer, Pierce started fourth in the 50-lap feature and immediately went to the high side to move into contention for the lead.
Pendleton’s Travis Welpott led the first four laps before being passed by Tony Hunt using the high line entering Turn 1, and Pierce followed suit on the front straight.
Pierce and Kody Swanson got inside of Hunt on Lap 9, and from there the Daleville driver was never seriously challenged for the lead.
The only caution flag waved on Lap 20 when Welpott spun coming off the fourth corner. At the same time, fast qualifier Brian Olson was forced from the race with a water leak while running fifth.
Following Pierce to the checkers was Olson, Chris Neuenschwander, Hunt and Brad Armstrong.
Garrett Green captured rookie of the year honors.
Pierce said he has a good set-up for the Anderson Speedway high-banked oval.
“I’ve been racing here since 1996,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of laps here.”
Martinsville driver Danny Trent used a restart on Lap 9 to slip around the outside of early leader Mark Lambert, surviving a restart with four laps remaining to win for the third time in the McGunegill Engine Performance Late Models.
Lambert took the early lead after setting fast time during qualifications and jumped into the lead.
Fred Hopkins moved into the third spot by getting inside of Chris Hacker on the second lap, but the two tangled while battling for position on Lap 9 in Turn 2.
Jeff Marcum, looking for his fourth consecutive win, passed Lambert on Lap 15 with an inside move coming off the second corner. Marcum had one final shot at passing Trent when Rob Noel brought out the caution flag on Lap 37 with a spin in Turn 4.
Marcum slipped on the restart entering Turn 1, which allowed Lambert to reclaim the second spot behind Trent. Ron Allman and Steve Stacy rounded out the top five.
Anderson driver Ronnie Rose was crowned the 2013 champion in the division with Allman finishing second.