The 2020 edition of the Wild West Shootout has become the year of “The Squirrel,” as Brian Shirley capped off his third win in five races on the penultimate race of the event on Saturday night.
For the first 10 laps of the 40-lap Super Late Model feature, it was Johnny Scott in front, but Shirley kept pace the entire way. Eventually, Shirley struck as the two leaders encountered lapped cars, picking the clear line and breezing away from the entire field. However, late yellow flags, including one with two laps, to go brought the field back to his rear bumper of his No. 3s Dirt Late Model. By this time, Ricky Weiss had taken over second position, but his last ditch pass on the final restart was not enough to get the job done.
In victory lane, Shirley wiped a bit of sweat off his forehead after the close call.
“I didn’t want to see that caution with two to go, I could see my signal guys telling me I was pretty good. I was riding around, but there was a bump there in three and four, I hit it right on that restart and it sort of messed me up,” Shirley said on the DirtonDirt broadcast.
For Weiss, he did everything he could do while driving a clean and classy race.
“We could restart real good and almost get next to him. Got to try going somewhere he’s not, and I’d try diving down and he’s always racing me clean, and I wasn’t going to stuff him in the wall or nothing,” Weiss said. “I was going to be there if he slipped up any; we had a real good car, and hopefully we can bring it on tomorrow.”
Shirley’s win is the third $5,000 check he has earned at Arizona Speedway this month, also guaranteeing at least a $10,000 bonus with Saturday’s win. Heading into Sunday’s finale, he now has a chance at the race winner’s check for the final race, plus increasing the bonus to $25,000, should he get win number four.
“It would be great, everything we win goes back to the team,” Shirley stated. “Bob and Lisa spend a lot of their hard-earned money, all of our sponsors do, to keep this race team going up and down the road. Bob puts every penny into the team, it’s a real testament to help us get out there, and any time you can put some money in the bank is really helpful.”
Above all, Shirley is thankful to have paid back all the people that have helped him along the way.
“I can’t thank Bob and Lisa Cullen enough, can’t thank everybody enough. It’s overwhelming, I can’t thank my wife and kids, my dad, it’s really special. I appreciate everybody back home, all the fans, everybody for me to be out here when we left on December 31st for 50 days. It’s a good thing for all the effort they’ve put in.”
Brandon Sheppard, Cade Dillard, and Bobby Pierce completed the top five. The 2020 edition of the Wild West Shootout concludes Sunday evening. Race fans can watch the finale live on DirtonDirt.com.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Wild West Shootout Twitter