QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. (Jan. 16) — Reclaiming the lead from Jonathan Davenport on lap 37, fifth-starting Tyler Erb of New Waverly, Texas, led the final three laps Saturday at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway, nipping Davenport at the line for his second straight Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout triumph. Erb’s second career miniseries victory — and second in as many nights — paid $5,000.
Erb came out on top of a back-and-forth battle with Davenport, finishing a scant tenth of a second ahead of the Blairsville, Ga., driver who had won two of four main events entering Saturday’s race. Third-starting Ricky Thornton Jr. of Chandler, Ariz., who won the Jan. 10 feature, completed the top three. Sixth-starting Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., finished fourth after running as high as third midway through the 40-lap feature and Jason Papich of Nipomo, Calif., rounded out the top-five after starting seventh.
Davenport, who started from the outside front row, led the first four laps before giving way to Erb, who charged forward to lead lap five. Erb paced the middle portion of the caution-free race while building a lead of more than one second. But as the leaders sliced through lapped traffic, Davenport reeled Erb in and slipped by to lead lap 32. Erb wouldn’t be denied his second straight miniseries victory, however, as he charged back by to grab the lead on lap 37. Diving down low in turn four as Davenport drifted up the track and into the cushion, he shot back ahead and sped away to the win.
“I kinda got … I don’t even know what you’d call it … I looked up on lap 24 when I was leading and I thought man, I shouldn’t have don’t that,” said Erb. “You know next thing you know J.D. I could see him underneath me in (turns) one and two and he got clear of me there and I thought man I messed up here for good. (I) just kind of moved around in (turns) three and four really. I wanted to run the top but man it was hard to do it. Them lapped cars are so hard to deal with and then he decided to go low two laps in a row and I got a really good run there around the top around him and just threaded the needle again is all you can say.”
Davenport, seeking his third Wild West Shootout victory of 2021 and the $10,000 bonus that goes to the first driver to win three features, thought he had a perfect plan. After giving up the early lead, he didn’t press the issue, instead choosing to save his equipment for the end. But as the race went without a caution and the leaders maneuvered through slower traffic, Davenport never got as comfortable as he wanted.
“It’s like I play these things out in my head and I just can’t get ‘em to work right at the end,” said Davenport. “The first half of the race I never went over half throttle ‘cause I knew (the track) was just so dirty and I was gonna kill my tire. We’ve been killing tires every night here and I haven’t been as good at the end. So I just paced myself as best I could. I just kept inching back in on him and then when I decided to go, man this thing was fast. I drove right to him and then I got to him in lapped traffic there and I just messed up a couple times off (turn) two.
“I never could figure out my exit where I needed to be through them lapped cars. He got a run on me there and I went back to the top in (turns) three and four and I saw him coming. I knew he was gonna slide all the way, but I’d just got back in the gas when I saw him. I hit the brake and turned down and hit a hole and it actually jumped me to the right in the cushion ‘cause I actually come out of the gas. That’s just all my fault and then I got back up on the horse and run him back down but it was too (little) too late. Congratulations to him. He done a hello a job, him and Randall (Edwards). I just hate it for my guys. That’s two times I’ve let ‘em down. We should’ve had more of these.”
Thornton managed to close in on the two front-runners with just a few laps remaining. After getting around Mars, he cut his deficit down from nearly a straightaway but never got the caution he needed.
“When it was kinda dirty there at the beginning, really I wasn’t very good,” said Thornton. “Then when that kinda blew off I could kinda move around and I found the top. I think I was driving harder there tonight than I was last night just because the curb was so big. We tried a couple different things tonight and I think we learned for (Sunday).
Notes: Polesitter Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., had motor issues as was the first to retire, competing only nine laps. … Ten of the 24 starters completed all 40 laps. … Davenport recorded his fifth top-five finish in as many starts. … With Erb and Davenport the only two drivers eligible for a bonus heading into Sunday’s finale, Erb said he planned to savor Saturday’s win before looking ahead. “We’re gonna enjoy this one. We definitely want to win (Sunday) but we still have to go through everything, get our notes straightened out and when we wake up (Sunday), that’ll be on our mind.” … Jimmy Mars’s fourth-place finish was his best of the week. “We got a better start than we’ve been getting the last few nights,” Mars said. “To come out with a fourth place, these teams are pretty tough customers and I actually got to pass Thornton there for a bit, I thought, you know what, at least we’re going in the right direction.” … Fifth-placed Jason Papich said his confidence is up following his second top-five finish. “Obviously our confidence is high right now,” he said. “We have a good setup … things going on with the car. This Longhorn is just amazingly fast. I mean it feels real good to be able to run with these guys up front. The front of this field is actually (full of) national winners.” ... Mitch McGrath won the Pro Power Dash for non-qualifiers, earning $1,000.
Preliminary notes and results:
Row 1: Bobby Pierce, Jonathan Davenport
Row 2: Ricky Thornton Jr., Terry Phillips
Row 3: Tyler Erb, Jimmy Mars
Row 4: Jason Papich, Rodney Sanders
Row 5: Johnny Scott, Mike Marlar
Row 6: Garrett Alberson, Jason Feger
Row 7: Donny Schatz, Chad Olsen
Row 8: Stormy Scott, Jared Landers
Row 9: Chase Allen, Scott Ward
Row 10: Brian Shirley, Kyle Beard
Row 11: Cody Laney, Tony Toste
Row 12: Billy Moyer, Tim Lance
Consolation race results
(12 laps; top 3 transfer)
First consolation finish: Brian Shirley, Cody Laney, Billy Moyer, Mitch McGrath, Gordy Gundaker, Rusty Schlenk, Blair Nothdurft, Chris Simpson, Dustin Sorensen, Bob Gardner, Chad Simpson, Trevor Gundaker, Eston Whisler, Brandon Lewis, Cliff Morrow, Clayton Holland, Cody Cantonwine, Thomas Hunziker, Luke Merfeld. Scratched: Power Donnelly, Lyndon Bolt, Matt Sparby.
Second consolation finish: Kyle Beard, Tony Toste, Tim Lance, Steve Stultz, John Cornell, Jake Timm, Brody Montgomery, Joey Tanner, Tyler Reagle, Scott Lewis, Jim Whisler, Kent Rosevear, Steve Hucovski, Doug Elkins, Larry Clawson, Austin Theiss, James Webster, Dennis Souza, Dustin Knight. Scratched: Gunner Frank, Craig Parker.
Heat race results
(Eight laps; top 3 transfer)
First heat finish: Bobby Pierce, Jason Papich, Donny Schatz, Cody Laney, Chris Simpson, Gordy Gundaker, Dustin Sorensen, Blair Nothdurft, Eston Whisler (DNS) Lyndon Bolt, Power Donnelly.
Second heat finish: Ricky Thornton Jr., Johnny Scott, Stormy Scott, Billy Moyer, Brian Shirley, Chad Simpson, Trevor Gundaker, Matt Sparby, Cliff Morrow, Brandon Lewis.
Third heat finish: Terry Phillips, Garrett Alberson, Chase Allen, Mitch McGrath, Luke Merfeld, Rusty Schlenk, Bob Gardner, Thomas Hunziker, Clayton Holland (DNS) Cody Cantonwine.
Fourth heat finish: Jimmy Mars, Rodney Sanders, Chad Olsen, Joey Tanner, Austin Theiss, Kent Rosevear, Jim Whisler, Brody Montgomery, Gunner Frank, Craig Parker.
Fifth heat finish: Tyler Erb, Mike Marlar, Jared Landers, Tony Toste, Kyle Beard, Tim Lance, John Cornell, Steve Hucovski, Larry Clawson, Dennis Souza.
Sixth heat finish: Jonathan Davenport, Jason Feger, Scott Ward, James Webster, Jake Timm, Steve Stultz, Doug Elkins, Tyler Reagle, Dustin Knight, Scott Lewis.
The trend lines for the 2021 Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout continue for Saturday’s fifth of six race nights: sunny skies with an afternoon high reaching the upper 70s and another massive field of 61 Super Late Models among a total turnout of 180 entries (72 modifieds, 46 X-mods). … Last year’s final Saturday-night WWS program drew 40 Super Late Models. … Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., is still searching for his first win of the week after a 24th-place finish in Friday’s feature, but he has one reason to feel fortunate as he heads out for Saturday’s action: he narrowly avoided disaster on the first lap of Friday’s 30-lapper. His car’s steering wheel came off in his hands as he exited turn four, forcing him to lock up his machine and spin into the first corner; though he was near the front of the pack after starting sixth, he somehow escaped the incident without absorbing a metal-crushing blow from another car. … Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, and his crew stayed up until about 1:30 a.m. to repair extensive body damage his MB Customs car sustained in Friday’s feature after a scrape with Donny Schatz of Fargo, N.D., sent him spinning in traffic. … Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark., and his Rauen Racing team had sheet metal and other damage to fix after an inauspicious end to what appeared to be a solid outing in Friday’s headliner. Landers ran as high second before slipping to ninth on a restart due to a tight handling condition; he later clipped the outside wall in turns three and four when he couldn’t overcome a push. … Rusty Schlenk of McClure, Ohio, enjoyed his best finish of the week — sixth in Friday’s 30-lapper — after pulling out his older Domination Chassis for Round 4 of the miniseries. He made the car change after discovering his performance in his newer machine was being hampered by a bent frame that apparently occurred when he bottomed out during Jan. 8’s open practice.
Time trials (unofficial)
Driver (car no.), hometown
- Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 14.916
- Ricky Thornton Jr. (20rt), Chandler, Ariz., 14.929
- Garrett Alberson (59), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.001
- Jason Papich (91P), Nipomo, Calif., 15.044
- Johnny Scott (1st), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.088
- Terry Phillips (75), Springfield, Mo., 15.090
- Donny Schatz (15), Fargo, N.D., 15.137
- Stormy Scott (2), Las Cruces, N.M., 15.175
- Chase Allen (130), Midlothian, Texas, 15.216
- Gordy Gundaker (11), St. Charles, Mo., 15.242
- Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 15.244
- Mitch McGrath (74), Waukesha, Wis., 15.289
- Dustin Sorenson (19), Rochester, Minn., 15.304
- Bob Gardner (4G), East Peoria, Ill., 15.372
- Brian Shirley (3s), Chatham, Ill., 15.372
- Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 15.373
- Luke Merfeld (21M), Dubuque, Iowa, 15.375
- Chad Simpson (25), Mount Vernon, Iowa, 15.375
- Blair Nothdurft (76), Sioux Falls, S.D., 15.487
- Trevor Gundaker (11T), St. Charles, Mo., 15.519
- Rusty Schlenk (91), McClure, Ohio, 15.551
- Cody Laney (32B), Torrance, Calif., 15.659
- Matt Sparby (81x), Bemidji, Minn., 15.785
- Thomas Hunziker (38), Bend, Ore., 15.813
- Eston Whisler (82), Otis, Ore., 15.835
- Cliff Morrow (99), Enid, Okla., 16.256
- Clayton Holland (71), Forney, Texas, 16.578
- Power Donnelly (333), Brighton, Colo., no time
- Lyndon Bolt (3x), Rapid City, S.D., no time
- Cody Cantonwine (75), Fort Lupton, Colo., no time
- Brandon Lewis (44), Brighton, Colo., no time
- Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 15.409
- Tyler Erb (1), New Waverly, Texas, 15.423
- Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 15.599
- Gunner Frank (21F), Montrose, Iowa, 15.696
- Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 15.728
- Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 15.736
- Chad Olsen (10C), Hendricks, Minn., 15.809
- Jared Landers (98), Benton, Ark., 15.885
- Jake Timm (49), Winona, Minn., 15.904
- Rodney Sanders (20), Happy, Texas, 15.917
- Tim Lance (48), Brimfield, Ill., 15.957
- Scott Ward (37), Watertown, S.D., 16.021
- Kent Rosevear (02), Yuma, Ariz., 16.036
- Kyle Beard (86), Trumann, Ark., 16.043
- Doug Elkins (41), Salem, Ore., 16.075
- Joey Tanner (99), Portland, Ore., 16.221
- James Webster (5AZ), Coolidge, Ariz., 16.347
- Tony Toste (91T), Pismo Beach, Calif., 16.347
- Austin Theiss (7D), Hockley, Texas, 16.454
- Steve Hucovski (15H), Corcoran, Minn., 16.483
- Steve Stultz (78s), Peoria, Ariz., 16.573
- Craig Parker (48), Phoenix, Ariz., 16.582
- John Cornell (28), Phoenix, Ariz., 16.693
- Tyler Reagle (21x), Valentine, Neb., 16.699
- Jimmy Whisler (28), Otis, Ore., 16.703
- Larry Clawson (L88), Kansas City, Mo., 16.863
- Scott Lewis (99), Henderson, Colo., 16.922
- Brody Montgomery (3), Bandon, Ore., 16.969
- Dennis Souza (83), Pescadero, Calif., 17.080
- Dustin Knight (77), Central Point, Ore., 17.173
(All times Mountain)
2:30 p.m. - Drivers' meeting
3:30 p.m. - Hot laps
- Late Models (time trials)
5 p.m. - Heat races
- X-mods (8 laps)
- Modifieds (8 or 10 laps)
- Late Models (8 laps)
- X-mods (10 laps)
- Modifieds (12 laps)
- Late Models (12 laps)
Pro Power Dash
- Late Models (laps TBD)
- Late Models (40 laps)
- X-mods (25 laps)
- Modifieds (25 laps)