McCool-Hollingsworth clash spices Tucson main
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
TUCSON, Ariz. (Jan. 15) — Last-lap fireworks marked the fifth round of USA Raceway's Wild West Shootout on Saturday as turn-four contact between Bub McCool and race-long leader Ronny Lee Hollingsworth sent Hollingsworth into the frontstretch wall and sent McCool to victory lane following a bizarre, controversial and dramatic finish. | Complete WWS coverage
McCool's damaged No. 57j limped across the finish line just ahead of Billy Moyer to give the Vicksburg, Miss., driver a $3,000 victory that wasn't immediately clear in a 30-lapper where the checkered flag never appeared and the winner wasn't officially declared until moments after Hollingsworth leaned into McCool's cockpit to express his displeasure.
"He was mad, but like I told him, I didn't mean to do that. Nothing on purpose," said the 33-year-old McCool, who walked to victory lane after abandoning his car near Hollingsworth's at the top of the frontstretch following his cool-down lap. "I didn't want it to end up like that. Me and (Hollingsworth) run together all the time and we're friends. I hate that it happened."
Hollingsworth, a Northport, Ala., driver looking for a victory for his new Tony Flynn Motorsports team, said McCool claimed his right-rear tire blew beforehand, although a video replay didn't appear to show the tire blowing until the cars banged together.
"We came out here and kind of had ups and downs, and we finally had it headed our way and we were going to win the race," a disappointed Hollingsworth said. "I was pretty heated, so I went over there to see what was going on, and he said his tire blew out. ... The bottom line is, he wrecked us in the wall whether he meant to or not. It just kind of took us out and totaled our car out."
Moyer, the Batesville, Ark., driver going for his third straight miniseries victory, was second after rallying from his 16th starting spot while Ray Moore of Haughton, La., came from 11th to finish third. Mike Johnson of Lompoc, Calif., lost a top-five finish when he lost control amid the last-lap chaos while Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., and Brad Looney of Republic, Mo., rounded out the top five at the 3/8-mile desert oval. Hollingsworth was listed 17th in the final rundown.
The high-running Hollingsworth started on the pole and dominated most of the race, but the eight-starting McCool used a restart to grab second from Johnson midway through the race. The low-running McCool wasn't within striking distance until he made up several lengths on Hollingsworth in the final laps.
On the last lap, the frontrunners drove into turn three side by side, and when Hollingsworth lost momentum by scraping the turn-four wall, McCool edged ahead. McCool slid into the high groove exiting turn four, and when Hollingsworth stayed in the gas, the left-front of his car rammed the right-rear of McCool's car. Hollingsworth's car veered hard into the frontstretch wall while McCool was able to just beat Moyer to the start-finish line.
"On the last lap I was going to slide-job him," McCool said. "I went off in there a little bit ahead of him, (and) really blew a right-rear tire out before we set up, and got into him there. I hated that it happened. Me and Ronny Lee are real good friends, you know. But that's the way it ended up.
"I'd have rather it ended up another way, without tore up race cars. That's just the way it happened."
Hollingsworth hated to wreck a car he felt was capable of capturing Sunday's $10,000 winner's purse.
"We were going to get a win and that was really going to help everybody's morale, and now we've gotta go home and build a new car," said Hollingsworth, who plans to go to a backup car Sunday. "I never even really saw (McCool). I knew the fastest line around the track was in the top. I knew we were good enough — somebody was going to have to do something stupid to pass us. I was trying to bide my time and do my job to run around that top, and not make not mistakes and I knew we were going to win the race.
"I was just trying to be smart and not doing anything stupid, and to get taken out just kind of sucks.
"I just hate it for Tony and them, the guys on the team. We've all been working hard all winter, and he spent a lot of money to get us out here. Like I said, it's been up and down. We were competitive the first night and we were kinda missing it the last few nights. We finally feel like we got something headed our way, and we don't get to show the finish of how good our stuff was."
The feature was slowed by a single caution for Joey Moriarty's turn-one spin on the 13th lap.
The six-race miniseries wraps up at 1 p.m. Sunday with the $10,000-to-win Bill Cheesbourg Memorial, a tribute to the late Tucson driver who made six starts in the Indianapolis 500.
Notes: McCool's Victory Circle Chassis is sponsored by McCool Logging, Henderson Motorsports, Southern Belle and New Vision Graphics. ... Eighteen drivers finished on the lead lap. ... Nick Bartels also got out of shape amid the last-lap melee but was able to cross the line seventh, the best for any California driver during the miniseries. ... Only seven drivers have made all five feature lineups: McCool, Hollingsworth, Moyer, Looney, Jeremy Payne, Pat Doar and Jesse Stovall. ... Ray Moore was edging ahead of Billy Moyer for third place late in the race when a brief frontstretch tangle with the lapped car of Clay Daly dropped him back to fourth. ... Daly started third but was shuffled back to ninth after one lap because of a poor start.
Wild West Shootout (fifth round): (1) Bub McCool, (2) Billy Moyer, (3) Ray Moore, (4) Jimmy Mars, (5) Brad Looney, (6) Morgan Bagley, (7) Nick Bartels, (8) Jeremy Payne (9) R.C. Whitwell, (10) Rob Sanders, (11) Pat Doar, (12) Terry Phillips, (13) Dylan Smith, (14) John Kaanta, (15) Lonnie Parker Jr., (16) Matt Aukland, (17) Ronny Lee Hollingsworth, (18) Mike Johnson, (19) Rob Mayea, (20) Jess Anderson, (21) Clay Daly, (22) Jesse Stovall, (23) Chris Wall, (24) Joey Moriarty. Heat race winners (among 48 cars): Looney, Hollingsworth, Payne, Daly, Johnson, Mars. Consolation winners: Smith, Doar, Parker.
Blog-style reports of Saturday's preliminaries:
Polesitter Lonnie Parker Jr. led fellow front-row starter Rob Mayea all the way for a victory in the final consolation. Jess Anderson joined them in a three-car breakaway while Joey Moriarty was a distant fourth in getting the final transfer spot. Dick Barton was fifth after Dan Henrikson held that spot most of the way.
Finish: Lonnie Parker Jr., Rob Mayea, Jess Anderson, Joey Moriarty, Dick Barton, Dan Henrikson, James Chavez Jr., Leon Henderson, David Breazeale, Mike McCaughan, Jason Papich, Billy Moyer Jr.
Outside front-row starter Pat Doar moved under Terry Phillips exiting turn four on the ninth lap and edged away for a victory in the caution-free second consy. Phillips, who took the lead from polesitter Eric Mass just after the completion of the first lap, was a close second followed by sixth-starting R.C. Whitwell. Matt Aukland got the fourth and final transfer spot to earn his first feature start since the miniseries opener eight days earlier. Mass faded to finish sixth.
Finish: Pat Doar, Terry Phillips, R.C. Whitwell, Matt Aukland, Mike Balcaen, Russ Sell, Eric Mass, Jack Sullivan, Ron Bartels, Garrett Alberson, Brant Kerher, Bucky Andrews.
Outside front-row starter Dylan Smith swept around polesitter Jesse Stovall exiting turn two on the first lap and cruised to a 12-lap victory. Third-starting Billy Moyer also got by Stovall early and finished a half-straight back in second. Stovall held on to third, just ahead of last transferree Chris Wall while Frank Heckenast Jr. — who charged from his eighth starting spot to fourth early — faded late to finish fifth.
Finish: Dylan Smith, Billy Moyer, Jesse Stovall, Chris Wall, Frank Heckenast Jr., Jon Kirby, John Lobb, Trevor Glaser, Karl Tipton, Mark Carrell, Jimmy Jelvick.
Ronny Lee Hollingsworth of Northport, Ala., is on the pole for the main event after a redraw among top drivers in passing points from heat races. ... Rob Sanders of Bakersfield, Calif., starts outside the front row for the second day in a row, and he's one of four California drivers among the top six starters in the main event along with Clay Daly, Mike Johnson and Nick Bartels. ... Extensive work to the track surface was done between heats and consolations, with the exception of a strip about a car width's wide around the corners that was left untouched. ... Billy Moyer Jr. and David Breazeale, involved in separate accidents in the fourth heat, are both done for the day. ... Listen to a streaming account of announcer Chris Stepan's play-by-play at Ustream.
Most heat racers ran the high side, but the preferred groove moved to the low side by the end of the heats and Jimmy Mars used it to cruise to victory. He built a straightaway lead at halfway and never looked back while fellow front-row starter Jesse Stovall ran second all race long. Fifth-starting Morgan Bagley hugged the inside lane to finish third while fellow third-row starter Billy Moyer got fourth, nipping tail-starting John Lobb at the line by inches.
Finish: Jimmy Mars, Jesse Stovall, Morgan Bagley, Billy Moyer, John Lobb, James Chavez Jr., Jason Papich, Bucky Andrews.
Polesitter Mike Johnson led all the way while three drivers diced for the second spot behind him. Eighth-starting Nick Bartels edged past Chris Wall on the fifth lap to give California a sweep of the top two spots. Seventh-starting Bub McCool went around Wall late to grab third and Wall, who challenged Johnson for the lead early, settled for fourth. The only caution appeared on the third lap when Mike Balcaen and Jon Kirby spun simultaneously in turn four.
Finish: Mike Johnson, Nick Bartels, Bub McCool, Chris Wall, Jon Kirby, Ron Bartels, Mike Balcaen, Jimmy Jelvick.
Outside front-row starter Clay Daly grabbed a victory in a race where three drivers were towed off the track. Tail-starting Rob Sanders capitalized on the attrition to finish second while Rob Mayea, whose errant slide job in turn two sent David Breazeale into the wall, was third. Polesitter Mark Carrell Was fourth and Jess Anderson fifth, the last car running. The first of two race stoppages came as the field clicked off the second lap on the frontstretch. Billy Moyer Jr. tried to go three wide between Carrell on the low side and Mayea on the high side. When Moyer and Carrell made contact, Moyer began going sideways and the nose of Jack Sullivan's car boosted the rear of Moyer's car as they slid toward turn one. A red flag appeared for the cleanup. The cars of Moyer and Sullivan were towed off the track. The second appeared for when Mayea knocked Breazeale into the turn-two wall just past the midpoint of the eight-lapper.
Finish: Clay Daly, Rob Sanders, Rob Mayea, Mark Carrell, Jess Anderson, David Breazeale, Billy Moyer Jr., Jack Sullivan.
Polesitter Jeremy Payne grabbed the early lead and rode the high side to an easy victory over fellow front-row starter John Kaanta, who ran about eight lengths back most of the way. Last Sunday's winner Pat Doar was just behind in third while Dick Barton was further back to finish fourth. Paul Guglielmoni slowed on the first lap and pulled to the infield.
Finish: Jeremy Payne, John Kaanta, Pat Doar, Dick Barton, Leon Henderson, Brant Kehrer, Trevor Glaser, Paul Guglielmoni
Jumping to the high side on the first lap, sixth-starting Ronny Lee Hollingsworth took the lead after al lap and a half and cruised to victory. Polesitter Lonnie Parker Jr. led early but was no match for Hollingsworth's aggressive charge at the outset, and Parker settled for second, more than a straightaway behind the winner. Garrett Alberson, driving the No. 101 driven earlier in the week by Dave Deetz, finished further back in third while Ray Moore improved three positions to finish fourth.
Finish: Ronny Lee Hollingsworth, Lonnie Parker Jr., Garrett Alberson, Ray Moore, R.C. Whitwell, Karl Tipton, Frank Heckenast Jr., Russ Sell.
Outside front-row starter Brad Looney emerged from a three-wide pack on the first lap and race to victory on the high side. Looney, polesitter Eric Mass and Dylan Smith were briefly three abreast on the backstretch as the eight-lap race got rolling. Mass finished second, just ahead of Smith while Terry Phillips settled for fourth in the caution-free prelim. Everyone else finished far behind.
Finish: Brad Looney, Eric Mass, Dylan Smith, Terry Phillips, Matt Aukland, Dan Henrikson, Joey Moriarty, Mike McCaughan.
It's a gorgeous day in Tucson with barely a cloud in the sky and temperatures in the high 60s. ... Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., guns for his third straight victory in the unsanctioned miniseries with 47 drivers entered in the afternoon's racing. ... Drivers have drawn for starting spots in six heat races and a passing-points system will transfer 12 drivers to the main event. Another dozen drivers will transfer through consolation races. .. Factory stocks and modifieds are also in action. ... After competing in modifieds and Late Models through the first four events, Tucson native R.C. Whitwell plans to just run a Late Model on Saturday. Whitwell has two runner-up finishes in Late Model action. ... Bobby Hogge IV of Salinas, Calif., broke a rear end in Friday night's feature and headed back home. ... John Lowrey of Bakersfield, Calif., is through for the miniseries after breaking an engine early in Friday's feature. ... Among drivers who've been the pits without race cars this week: five-time NCRA champion Kelly Boen of Henderson, Colo.; Dean Moore of Grand Junction, Colo.; Mike Kirby of Torrance, Calif.; and Darren Miller of Milledgeville, Ill. ... Canadian Mike Balcaen has made just one of four features and is struggling after bending the frame of his Victory Circle Chassis in Wednesday's action. The front clip was bent down 1.5 inches. ... An infield videographer narrowly missed being struck by Leon Henderson's car during hot laps when Henderson lost control and entered the infield. The videographer dove out of the way and Henderson rolled back over to apologize, photographer Ron Mitchell said. ... Garrett Alberson is driving the No. 101 of fellow New Mexico driver Dave Deetz. ... Trevor Glaser is driving a Rob Mayea backup car.