Shirley Claims Round No. 5 of Wild West Shootout

For the second time in as many years, a Dirt Track Bank Super Late Model driver has pulled into Hoker Trucking victory lane at least three times during the Wild West Shootout, earning them a piece of the Keyser Manufacturing Quarter-Million Challenge bonus money. I use the term “at least”, as Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., still has one more race to stake claim to even more money being offered by Keyser.

Shirley’s Saturday night picked right up where he left Friday, as he dominated his heat race, winning by over three seconds. Cade Dillard of Robeline, La., ripped a 15.321 lap around FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway earlier in the evening, earning him the $100 fast qualifier award, courtesy of SportTruck RV and Screven Motor Speedway. Dillard also won his heat race, joining Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., Johnny Scott of Las Cruces, N.M. and Shirley as heat race winners. Junghans would collect $100 after his heat race win, as he drew the pole position and earned the Gorsuch Performance Pole Award.

Unfortunately for Junghans, his time spent up front would not last long in the 40-lap feature, as he overshot the entrance of turn three and hopped the cushion, handing the lead to outside front row starter, Johnny Scott. Junghans recovered in fifth place, by the completion of the race’s first circuit. Scott proceeded to lead the next nine laps, with Shirley hot on his tail and showing his nose on the inside of the FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway track surface. It was the tenth lap where Shirley was finally able to find the traction he needed to complete the pass on Scott and he immediately began to stretch his lead.

The race remained green until just after the halfway mark, when Justin Duty of Mulino, Ore., slowed on lap 25, bringing out the first Midwest Sheet Metal caution flag of the night. This erased Shirley’s growing advantage and setup a series of restarts and short sprints to the finish. Third and seventh place drivers, Ricky Weiss of Headingley, Manitoba and Chase Junghans both executed flawless restarts, advancing to second and third position, behind Shirley. However, Shirley continued to stretch his lead over Weiss and Junghans, until fourth place running Johnny Scott suffered a failed right rear tire on lap 34, ending his night and bringing out the second caution flag.

Weiss attempted to keep pace with Shirley on the next restart, but “Squirrel” continued to flex his muscle and quickly opened his lead. This happened to be only a four lap stint, as third place running Chase Junghans lost his right rear tire on lap 38, also ending his night and bringing out the final Midwest Sheet Metal caution flag of the race. Weiss gave it all he could on the final restart, with two laps to go. He stuck to the bottom and showed Shirley his nose, nearly driving even with him in turns one and two. However, Shirley was simply too strong, as he cruised to win his second consecutive Wild West Shootout feature victory, which marked his third win of the entire event.

Weiss settled for runner-up on Saturday, his fourth top-five finish in the five events that have been completed. Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., charged from his 12th starting position to claim the third and final finishing position on the podium. The third place finish gives Sheppard top-five finishes in all five races, thus far in the 2020 Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts. Dillard remained in the top-five throughout the entire 40-lap feature and earned his best finish of the event, coming home in fourth, while Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., advanced from his 18th starting position and finished fifth.

Shirley’s third victory of the event has earned him a $10,000 bonus, courtesy of Keyser Manufacturing. He can make it $25,000 in bonus money, if he happens to win the final event on Sunday. Brandon Sheppard can also secure a $10,000 Keyser Manufacturing bonus of his own, if he can manage to win his third feature victory of the event, on Sundery. In addition to being mindful of the potential for bonus money, the consistency of Shirley, Sheppard and Weiss will also undoubtedly setup an epic points battle going into Sunday afternoon’s finale for the Dirt Track Bank Super Late Models presented by Black Diamond Race Cars.

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