San Tan Valley, AZ – The 13th Annual Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts kicked off in rousing fashion on Saturday night with two of Super Late Model racing’s biggest stars squaring off during the final lap for the first lucrative payday of the 2019 season.
And when the checkered flag flew on the 40-lap opening leg of the Wild West Shootout, it was Bobby Pierce edging Scott Bloomquist by a mere nose to collect the $5,000 winner’s bounty at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway.
“The picture showed I was just a nose ahead, I barely pulled it off,” the Oakwood, IL, ace commented from Hoker Trucking Victory Lane.
While Pierce bested the Super Late Model ranks, other Wild West Shootout opening night winners included Casey Arneson in Modified action and Cole Searing in the X-Mods as 133 cars filled the pit area on the opening night of the six-night mini-series.
In the early portion of the 40-lap Black Diamond Super Late Models presented by M&W Transport feature event, Pierce was busy chasing down early pacesetter Chase Junghans after starting third.
The 2017 Wild West Shootout champion finally made his way past Junghans on the 13th round and was in command until heavy traffic began to take its toll. Bloomquist was on the move, racing past Sheppard for second with just two laps to go and then making a move on Pierce during the final circuit only to fall just inches short at the stripe.
“Most of the time black noses lose photo finishes,” the Mooresburg, TN, racer commented.
After pocketing $13,000 in last year’s Wild West Shootout finale, Brandon Sheppard rounded out Saturday’s podium in third with Louisiana’s Cade Dillard rallying from the 17th starting position to capture fourth. Brandon Overton made forward progress as well, picking off a half-dozen positions to round out the top five.
With the opening round triumph, Pierce puts himself in prime position to cash in on the Keyser’s Quarter-Million Challenge that could be worth as much as $100,000 for a clean sweep of the six-race series. Five triumphs would offer up an extra $100,000, four wins would be worth an added $25,000 and three wins would net a bonus of $10,000.
In the 25-lap Mesilla Valley Transportation/Border International Modifieds presented by Arizona Differential, Casey Arneson capitalized on his pole starting position by racing to the Wild West Shootout opening leg victory.
Arneson crossed the stripe ahead of fourth-row starter Darrell Nelson, Dereck Ramirez, Dustin Strand and Tyler Wolft completing the top five.
Rounding out the trio of opening night 13th Annual Wild West Shootout winners was Cole Searing in the RHRSwag.com X-Mods presented by Barnett Harley-Davidson.
The defending Wild West Shootout champion picked up right where he left off by charging from the night starting position to pick up the win after posting three triumphs last year. Searing took the checkered flag ahead of Matt Gilberton with Lucas Rodin, Skeeter Estex and Stephen Muilenberg also in the top five.
The Wild West Shootout continues at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway on Sunday with racing action set to go green at 5:00 p.m. with ensuing rounds to follow on Wednesday, January 9, and then Friday through Sunday, January 11-13.
A $5,000 winner’s share is up for grabs for the Super Late Models through the opening five nights of competition before the stakes are upped to $14,000-to-win for the January 14 Shaw Trucking finale.
Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.wildwestshootout.net/schedule/ and ticket pricing/purchasing information can be found at www.wildwestshootout.net or by calling the Wild West Shootout office at 520-664-2074.
Wild West Shootout Hotel Information can be found at http://www.wildwestshootout.net/fan-info/lodging-2/ or by calling Hilton Phoenix/Mesa at 480-833-5555. The Hilton Phoenix/Mesa is located at 1011 West Holmes Avenue in Mesa, AZ.
Saturday and Sunday events will go green at 5 p.m. with Wednesday and Friday events starting at 7 p.m.
Arizona Speedway is located just minutes from Phoenix. From Phoenix, take US 60 east to Ironwood Dr., turn right (south) and go four miles, Arizona Speedway is on the right hand side. For more information, visit www.wildwestshootout.net or call 520-664-2074.
The 13th Annual Wild West Shootout is made possible by Keyser Manufacturing, O’Reilly Auto Parts, FK Rod Ends, Black Diamond, M&W Transport, Mesilla Valley Transportation, Border Tire, Sport Truck RV, PFC Brakes, Arizona Differential, RHR RacingSwag, Barnett Harley Davidson, Hoker Trucking, Total Seal Piston Rings, Shaw Trucking, San Tan Ford, Toste Construction, Swift Springs, Pro Power Engines, Five Star Graphix, Beaver Stripes, VP Racing Fuel, Penske Racing Shocks and Hoosier Tires.
-Story by Lonnie Wheatley
-Photo credit: Tom Macht