‘Squirrel’ Scores an Emotional Wild West Shootout Victory

Two-time UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion Brian Shirley made his first trip to the Wild West Shootout a memorable one by winning the Late Model A-Main on night one of the 14th edition of the event at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway.  “Squirrel” capitalized on a mistake by race-long leader Ricky Thornton, Jr. with 12 laps to go to take the lead, then went unchallenged the rest of the way.


It was an emotional win for the Illinois driver, who wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to race on Saturday night after his wife Shannon was hospitalized the day before.


“It’s a little emotional, a lot of people know that I struggle racing because of my wife’s illness. She had a seizure last night and I wasn’t even sure if I was even going to be here,” Shirley said on the DirtonDirt.com broadcast.  “Luckily, the good Lord let her come home.  What can I say, I’ve just been blessed.


“I’m really speechless. Nobody really understands how hard it is to go on the road for me.  I go on the road and my wife’s back home.  All I can say is she’s the reason why I’m here.”


Shirley’s season began earlier than usual with last weekend’s World of Outlaws Late Model season opener at the newly-built Vado Speedway Park (NM) as his team prepares for a run at the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series championship.  Now with a win under their belt, they are excited to see how the rest of the week will play out.


“That was the point of coming out here, was so that way me and Anthony and Aaron and Mikey could gel,” he said.  “Just like Vado, we had some things and miscues there and we just didn’t do a good job and we came back and worked three days.  Just looking forward to getting some races in and getting some laps, just thankful that the good Lord blessed me.”


Fellow Illinois driver Frank Heckenast, Jr. came home second, while Thornton, two-time World of Outlaws champion Brandon Sheppard, and Chris Simpson rounded out the top five.


Fans who want to view the Wild West Shootout can watch a live broadcast on DirtonDirt.com.


Wild West Shootout – Night #1 Results:

  1. Brian Shirley
  2. Frank Heckenast, Jr.
  3. Ricky Thornton, Jr.
  4. Brandon Sheppard
  5. Chris Simpson
  6. Chase Junghans
  7. Ricky Weiss
  8. Johnny Scott
  9. Jimmy Mard
  10. Garrett Alberson
  11. Bobby Pierce
  12. Stormy Scott
  13. Mike Spatola
  14. Justin Duty
  15. Earl Pearson
  16. Clay Fisher
  17. Brian Birkhofer
  18. Kyle Beard
  19. Terry Phillips
  20. Cody Laney
  21. Ryan Gustin
  22. Mitch McGrath
  23. Blair Northdurft
  24. Tony Toste
  25. Cade Dillard


-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3

-Photo Credit:  Tyler Rinken

‘Squirrel’ Scores an Emotional Wild West Shootout Victory