QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. — Canadian ace Ricky Weiss ended Bobby Pierce’s bonus-chasing three-race win streak in Saturday’s opener at the Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout, outrunning another Illinois hotshoe for a $5,000 victory at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway.
Weiss took advantage when polesitter Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., got into turn one too high on the eighth lap, slipping underneath and edging into the lead on the backstretch en route to his third career miniseries victory.
“(It’s good) just to know that you’ve got a good car, got a good piece,” said the third-starting Weiss, who won two miniseries races last season but hadn’t cracked the top-five in the first three races. “We knew that coming here. This is a brand new car, second night on it. (Crew chief) Shawn (Gage) built this thing. Hats off to all the guys, just everybody helping me. … Hopefully we can make it 2-for-2 today.”
Pierce, the Oakwood, Ill., driver whose three 2019 miniseries victories already paid him $10,000 from the Keyser Quarter-Million Challenge, was up to second after the first lap, but ended up settling for a fifth place finish behind Weiss, Sheppard, Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, and Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan.
While the $250,000 for a six-race sweep is off the table for Pierce, the 22-year-old still has the opportunity to earn a $100,000 bonus for five victories or $25,000 for four victories. Racing continues with the $5,000-to-win nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader and the miniseries concludes Sunday with a $14,000-to-win finale for Super Late Models.
Weiss, who took the checkers 0.749 seconds ahead of Sheppard on a daytime track where passing was at a premium, was glad to get back on track in the desert.
“It’s been a little of a tough week,” Weiss said. “We’ve had a car to win every night … and a little bit of me, little bit of just the track. We like the slick and that’s where our stuff shines. We’ve had the speed but a little bit of luck came our way. Brandon got a little high there. It was easier to judge from where I was sitting. I could kind of watch him a bit, where I was gaining, where I was missing.
“It was a good race. Lapped traffic was getting a little hectic there but I could see Shawn, he was giving me good signals. Then the caution come out and I knew at that point as long as I could keep the tires under me we would be alright.”
Sheppard knew he was in trouble when he left Weiss room inside him on the eighth lap.
“I had a good race car but I just slipped up getting into (turn) one there and gave him just enough room to get under me there,” Sheppard said. “It was kind of hard to judge our there leading where exactly I needed to be in the black because it was kind of still dirty. I just slipped up that one lap and he got by me there. But all in all we had a really good race car and we’ve got one more race today, so we’re going to go back there and get to work.”
Like Weiss, Chris Simpson turned around his week one night after wrecking his Longhorn Chassis against the turn-one wall in hot laps. He unloaded his Black Diamond Race Car and notched his first podium finish in Arizona since the 2018 opener.
“It’s been rough,” the seventh-starting Simpson said. “Last night was a hard hit. I actually got to thank my guys. They worked their butts off last night and this morning to get the car ready. … We’ve got two more left. The other car felt a little better but we’ll just keep working on this one and see if we can get it where we need it.”
Notes: Weiss ended Bobby Pierce’s personal five-race winning streak; Pierce was unbeaten going back to late November’s preliminary for the VP Racing Fuels Gateway Dirt Nationals in St. Louis, Mo. … Heat winner Scott Bloomquist lost ground immediately battling with Kyle Beard, falling from his fourth starting spot to ninth and ending up 13th. … The race’s lone caution appeared on the 19th lap so the ambulance in the infield could attend to a medical emergency in the pit area. ... A blown engine after time trials forced Scott Ward to scratch for the rest of the miniseries.
Preliminary notes and results:
Late Model feature lineup
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard (B5), Kyle Beard (86)
Row 2: Ricky Weiss (7), Scott Bloomquist (0)
Row 3: Bobby Pierce (32), Chase Junghans (18)
Row 4: Chris Simpson (32), Brandon Overton (2)
Row 5: Cade Dillard (97), Mike Maresca (7mm)
Row 6: Jason Papich (91P), Hudson O’Neal (71)
Row 7: Don Shaw (42s), Jimmy Mars (28)
Row 8: Cody Laney (32B), Earl Pearson Jr. (1)
Row 9: Stormy Scott (2s), Ricky Thornton Jr. (6rt)
Row 10: Pat Doar (11), Garrett Alberson (1G)
Row 11: Joey Moriarty (51), R.C. Whitwell (71)
Row 12: Cole Schill (44), Terry Phillips (75)
Late Model consolation results
First consolation (top four transfer): Stormy Scott, Pat Doar, Joey Moriarty, Cole Schill, Rob Mayea, Darren Coffell, Steve Isenberg, John Cornell, Dean Moore, Thomas Hunziker, Steve Stultz, Brandon Lewsi, Terry Carter.
Second consolation (top four transfer): Ricky Thornton Jr., Garrett Alberson, R.C. Whitwell, Terry Phillips, Kolby Vandenbergh, Tony Toste, Rob Sanders, Blair Nothdurft, Lyndon Bolt, Brad Williams, Chaz Baca, Richard Wallace, Billy Franklin, Rick Ortega.
Moments after driving his race car up and down the highway to confirm fuel pressure issues were fixed, Scott Bloomquist rallied from his sixth starting spot for a heat victory. Bloomquist emerged from a three-wide battle with Brandon Overton and Hudson O'Neal to lead the final seven laps. Overton, O'Neal and polesitter Earl Pearson Jr. also transferred as the next three finishers.
Finish (top four transfer): Scott Bloomquist, Brandon Overton, Hudson O'Neal, Earl Pearson Jr., Kolby Vandenbergh, Lyndon Bolt, Rob Sanders, Billy Franklin, Chaz Baca, Rick Ortega, Richard Wallace.
Ricky Weiss led all eight laps to capture the third heat, taking the checkers ahead of Chris Simpson, who went to a backup car after a Friday wreck. Jason Papich and Cody Laney also transferred to the main event.
Finish (top four transfer): RIcky Weiss, Chris Simpson, Jason Papich, Cody Laney, Joey Moriarty, Dean Moore, Rob Mayea, Cole Schill, John Cornell, Thomas Hunziker, Steve Stultz.
Kyle Beard led all eight laps to win a heat race for the second straight night. Chase Junghans finished second to transfer along with Mike Maresca and Jimmy Mars.
Finish (top four transfer): Kyle Beard, Chase Junghans, Mike Maresca, Jimmy Mars, Garrett Alberson, Ricky Thornton Jr., Tony Toste, R.C. Whitwell, Terry Phillips, Blair Nothdurft, Brad Williams.
Brandon Sheppard stole the top spot from polesitter Bobby Pierce exiting turn two on the first lap and led the rest of the eight-lapper. Pierce stayed closed with his fellow Illinois driver but couldn't get by while Cade Dillard finished third, transferring along with fourth-finishing Shaw in the caution-free heat.
First heat (top four transfer): Brandon Sheppard, Bobby Pierce, Cade Dillard, Don Shaw, Stormy Scott, Pat Doar, Steve Isenberg, Justin Duty, Terry Carter, Brandon Lewis, Darren Coffell.
The Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout continues with a Saturday doubleheader that opens with an afternoon program that’s a makeup of Jan. 6’s rainout. Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., is gunning for his fourth straight victory in his quest for the Keyser Quarter-Million Challenge that pays $250,000 for a six-race sweep ($100,000 for five victories, $25,000 for four victories and $10,000 for three victories).
Hot laps are scheduled for 11 a.m. MST with racing starting at noon. While Late Models will run a complete program, USRA modifieds and X-mods will run double features.
Late Model entries will be split into four groups for time trials with officials employing combination hot-lap/time trials to set the lineups for four heat races. Drivers start straightup by time.
The top four finishers in each of four heat races transfer to the 30-lap main event with the winners redrawing for the first two rows of the feature lineup. Two consolation races will transfer four drivers apiece to the 24-car field for the main event.
The second race of Saturday’s doubleheader is set to begin with 5:30 p.m. hot laps while Sunday’s $14,000-to-win Super Late Model finale wraps up the miniseries with hot laps at 3:30 p.m.
Time trials (unofficial)
(Heats start straightup by time)
Driver (car no.), hometown
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 14.614
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 14.654
Don Shaw (42S), Ham Lake, Minn., 14.705
Cade Dillard (97), Robeline, La., 14.801
Pat Doar (11), New Richmond, Wis., 14.841
Stormy Scott (2), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.132
Steve Isenberg (942), Marshfield, Wis., 15.455
Darren Coffell (46), Bend, Ore., 15.529
Justin Duty (15D), Mulino, Ore., 15.655
Terry Carter (6T), Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, 17.119
Brandon Lewis (44), Denver, Colo., 19.550
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 14.718
Kyle Beard (86), Trumann, Ark., 14.720
Tony Toste (91T), Pismo Beach, Calif., 14.909
Mike Maresca (7mm), Potsdam, N.Y., 14.962
Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 14.963
Garrett Alberson (1G), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.016
R.C. Whitwell (71), Tucson, Ariz., 15.055
Blair Nothdurft (76), Sioux Falls, S.D., 15.067
Terry Phillips (75), Springfield, Mo., 15.253
Ricky Thornton Jr. (6rt), Chandler, Ariz., 15.267
Brad Williams (23), Tucson, Ariz., 15.752
Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 14.886
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 14.917
Joey Moriarty (51), Phoenix, Ariz., 14.959
Cody Laney (32B), Torrance, Calif., 15.219
Jason Papich (91P), Nipomo, Calif., 15.430
Dean Moore (14m), Grand Junction, Colo., 15.527
Rob Mayea (37), Bend, Ore., 15.622
John Cornell (28), Phoenix, Ariz., 15.645
Cole Schill (44), Horace, N.D., 15.792
Thomas Hunziker, Bend, Ore., 16.185
Steve Stultz (78s), Peoria, Ariz., 16.538
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.023
Brandon Overton (2), Evans, Ga., 15.096
Scott Ward (37), Watertown, S.D., 15.338
Kolby Vandenbergh (15), Ashland, Ill., 15.361
Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 15.372
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 15.579
Lyndon Bolt (3x), Rapid City, S.D., 15.821
Billy Franklin (17), Calera, Ala., 16.025
Chaz Baca (83), Mesa, Ariz., 16.430
Rob Sanders (10N), Bakersfield, Calif., 16.569
Richard Wallace (7w), Gold Coast, Ore., 16.626
Rick Ortega (24), Las Cruces, N.M., 16.807
Saturday afternoon's schedule
(All times Mountain)
10 a.m. - Drivers’ meeting
11 a.m - Hot laps
X-mods (combo hot laps/time trials)
Modifieds (combo hot laps/time trials)
Late Models (combo hot laps/time trials)
11:55 a.m. - National anthem
Noon - Racing
X-mod first feature (15 laps)
Late Model heat races (8 laps)
Modified first feature (15 laps)
Late Model consolations (12 laps)
X-mod second feature (15 laps)
Late Model feature (30 laps)
Modified second feature (15 laps)
Saturday evening's schedule
(All times Mountain)
5:30 p.m - Hot laps
Late Models (combo hot laps/time trials)
6:50 p.m. - National anthem
6:55 p.m. - Heat races
X-mods (8 laps)
Modifieds (8 laps)
Late Models (8 laps)
X-mods (10 laps)
Modifieds (12 laps)
Late Models (12 laps)
X-mods (20 laps)
Pro Power Dash (10 laps; Late Model non-qualifiers)
Modifieds (25 laps)
Late Models (40 laps)