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2016 Wild West Shootout – Final Weekend Race Recap & Results

Saturday, January 16, 2016
Tucson, Arizona

It was another beautiful day in Tucson, Arizona, when I arrived at the track at 3:00pm local time. The sun had been hiding behind the clouds for most of the day, so it was a little on the chilly side, but also meant that the racing surface was not exposed to direct sunlight for very long periods of time. Hot laps went without a hitch and, much to my surprise, they spent a little more time adding moisture and working the track surface, before heat races! The extra worked helped to ensure the outside line held more moisture throughout the night and also caused it to be the fast line, at least in the heat races and B-mains. Several drivers expressed concern that the track had too much moisture up-top and on the extreme bottom, areas of the track that had not been packed yet and were very muddy/sloppy.

It was cloudy, but a beautiful day overall, on Saturday – Tucson, Arizona
Racing proved to be excellent, as the track as wide enough where fast guys could make moves. Slide jobs were a popular choice, as drivers would barrel-off into turns 1 and 3, letting their momentum carry themselves to the cushion and use the cushion to power-off the turn. For drivers being slid, there was some collaboration required, as they were forced to let-off the throttle mid-way through the turn and experienced drivers used their momentum to dive back under the other driver, on exit, allowing them to execute a slide job of their own, entering the next set of turns. Unfortunately, Late Model heat race 4 proved that trying to slide someone, who doesn’t want to be slid, can be a very dangerous proposition.
Don Shaw jumped out to the early lead of Heat race 4, when “Kid Smooth” Billy Moyer Jr had a bit of a sluggish start. Moyer Jr was reeling-in Shaw around the 4th lap, when he pushed-high out of turn 4 and slapped the outside wall, coming to a stop just past the start/finish line. This would end Moyer Jr’s night, as his car sustained heavy right front suspension damage, including a damaged drive shaft. 
“Kid Smooth” Billy Moyer Jr had a rough night on Saturday, crashing in the heat race
While positioning myself in the infield, to survey the damage on Moyer Jr’s car, along with having a word with him, I noticed “The Georgia Bulldog” Shane Clanton had passed Jason Krohn to take 2nd place and he was moving-in on still race leader, Don Shaw. At the exact moment that Moyer Jr’s car pulled directly in front of me, I noticed to my right that Clanton had a huge run on Shaw, entering turn 3. Clanton did what most every other driver would do and he hauled it off into turn 3, just clearing Shaw by inches, then slammed hard into the cushion and utilized the moisture to begin his drive-off the turn. At that moment, Don Shaw had a few options as to how he could react to being slid for the heat race lead. Rather than back-off, or try to turn under Clanton, Shaw decided to run right into the back of him, lifting Clanton’s rear tires up off the ground and forcing him above the cushion, into the wall. Clanton’s momentum also forced Don Shaw into the wall and the two drivers hit simultaneously at the exit of turn 4. Clanton’s front wheels, still turned to the left from trying to execute his slider, dug-into the wet clay above the cushion, causing his car to bite and roll-over about 1 3/4 rotations. Shaw simply slapped the wall and his car came to rest practically underneath Clanton’s car. 
Shane Clanton’s car came to rest on top of Don Shaw’s, after getting upside down in heat race 4
Thankfully, both drivers were okay, but they had a very heated exchange. Both drivers felt like they were done wrong and wanted to ensure the other driver knew how upset they were. Mind you, both drivers are large men, so it took several members of security and the safety crew, to keep the altercation from becoming physical. Saw was able to drive his car away, but was encouraged to load-up and head home, as track officials did not appreciate his aggressive behavior towards Clanton, after the crash occurred. Clanton also loaded-up and headed home, due to the large amount of damage sustained to his car. What went from a fierce battle for the lead in heat race 4, ended with both drivers done for the rest of the weekend. Jason Krohn went-on to win the wild heat race, after a brief red flag was displayed, to allow for clean-up.
After tempers calmed, track officials were able to get Clanton’s car on its wheels
What was left of Shane Clanton’s car, after getting upside down in heat race 4 on Saturday
58 Late Models showed-up to race on Saturday night, with Chris Simpson, “The Sandman” Rodney Sanders, RC Whitwell, “Superman” Jonathan Davenport and Ricky Thornton Jr joining Krohn as heat race winners. 38 Modifieds also competed on Saturday, with Brad Dierks, “The Reaper” Ryan Gustin, Chad Olsen and Kyle Beard winning heat races. While the heat races provided a lot of action, there was also plenty of action in the main events as well. Listed below are my race recaps from Saturday night, including full results:

Late Models

“The Sandman” Rodney Sanders and Jason Krohn shared the front row for the Late Model main event, with Krohn firing-off from the outside row, to take the early lead. Unfortunately for Krohn, his lead was short-lived, as 3rd place starter “The Bluegrass Bandit” Darrell Lanigan charged to the front, utilizing the bottom of the race track. The race saw the first 23 laps go green, as Lanigan was deep into lapped traffic. “The Reaper” Ryan Gustin did a masterful job of running what was left of the cushion, utilizing the high line to keep his momentum up. Right around the 20-lap mark, Gustin had closed-in to just a few car lengths behind Lanigan and seemed poised to give “The Bluegrass Bandit” a run for the lead. However, on lap 23, the race took an unexpected turn. Then 3rd place-runner, Jason Krohn, made contact with Austin Siebert, as he was attempting to lap him. This caused Siebert to spin driver-side to the wall in turn 3, bringing out the race’s first and only caution. However, at the exact same time as the caution, Gustin began experiencing mechanical problems, from 2nd place and he pulled into the infield, ending his night. Krohn survived the contact with Siebert, sustaining only minor cosmetic damage to his driver-side door and inheriting 2nd place, when Gustin had trouble. Ronny Lee Hollingsworth inherited 3rd, with Chris Simpson in 4th, Jason Papich 5th, Rodney Sanders 6th and “Superman” Jonathan Davenport had charged from his 14th place starting position, to run 7th at lap 23. The ensuing restart saw Lanigan fire-off to an early lead and he would not be challenged for the remainder of the race, cruising to his first victory of 2016 and winning $5,000! The race for 2nd was wild though, as Krohn, Hollingsworth and Simpson went 3-wide on multiple occasions, all while Davenport continued his march to the front. Hollingsworth prevailed to finish 2nd, while Davenport just ran out of laps and settled for 3rd. Simpson and Krohn rounded out the top-5. 
“The Bluegrass Bandit” Darrell Lanigan won the $5,000 feature on Saturday night!

“Right Foot Ronny” Lee Hollingsworth had an impressive run to finish 2nd on Saturday
“Superman” Jonathan Davenport charged from 14th, but settled for 3rd on Saturday
It was an excellent night of racing, as the track was wide enough to allow passing, but neither line had a large advantage over the other. The guys who were making passes and moving through the field, truly had better handling cars. Davenport impressed, charging from 14th to finish 3rd. Ronny Lee Hollingsworth had his annual solid-run in Arizona, bringing it home in 2nd. Krohn also had a solid run, leading laps early, but ultimately settled to finish 5th. Chris Simpson charged from 10th to finish 4th, “The Kentucky Colonel” Steve Francis from 18th to finish 11th and Donny Schatz charged from 24th to finish 14th! Listed below are the full results from Saturday, including the driver’s starting position in parenthesis:

Late Model Results

1. Darrell Lanigan (3), 2. Ronny Lee Hollingsworth (5), 3. Jonathan Davenport (14), 4. Chris Simpson (10), 5. Jason Krohn (2), 6. Jason Papich (9), 7. RC Whitwell (8), 8. Chase Junghans (11), 9. Rodney Sanders (1), 10. Don O’Neal (13), 11. Steve Francis (18), 12. Ricky Thornton Jr (15), 13. Billy Moyer Sr (12), 14. Donny Schatz (24), 15. Tyler Erb (6), 16. Dustin Strand (7), 17. Garrett Alberson (21), 18. Terry Phillips (19), 19. Kyle Beard (16), 20. Hunter Rasdon (23), 21. Jason Rauen (17), 22. Ryan Gustin (4), 23. Austin Siebert (20), 24. Pat Doar (22)


One of the best Dirt Modified drivers of all-time, “The Sandman” Rodney Sanders started on the pole of the 25-lap main event. After firing-off to an early lead and stretching it to nearly a straightaway, it was easy to think that he would run away and win the race. Unfortunately, for Sanders, that was not the case. “The Reaper” Ryan Gustin was running his usual high-line and making great time, reeling-in race leader Sanders. A caution on lap 11 reset the race, allowing Gustin to close-in and start right behind Sanders. The race was a bit sluggish, as several cautions flew and did not allow for drivers to get into much of a rhythm. The man on the move was “Toddzilla” Todd Shute, as he charged into the top-5, just past the 20-lap mark of the feature. A series of late race cautions and restarts continued to reset Sanders lead, though he continued to hold-off all challengers. Gustin had his usual run-ins with the wall, thoroughly destroying the right rear of his Modified for the second night in-a-row. Shute successfully worked his way up to 2nd place and set his sights on Sanders, who had lead the entire race. On the last lap, Shute successfully completed the pass and motored ahead of Sanders to win the $1,000 feature! 
“Toddzilla” Todd Shute completed a last-lap pass to win on Saturday!
“The Sandman” Rodney Sanders led 24 of 25 laps, but settled for 2nd place
“The Reaper” Ryan Gustin & Philip Houston finished 3rd & 4th on Saturday
What a heartbreaker for Sanders! After leading 24 of 25 laps, Shute worked magic to complete the last-lap pass for the win! Gustin’s car showed the usual signs of his bouts with the wall, as his right rear quarter panel and spoiler were in pieces, by races’ end. Philip Houston had a strong, clean run, finishing 4th on the night. Several B-main transfers impressed tonight, as Stormy Scott charged from 24th to finish 6th, Darron Fuqua from 19th to 9th, Matt Leer from 17th to 10th, Matt Gilbertson from 21st to 11th and “The Jet” Blake Jegtvig charged from 20th to finish 12th. Listed below are the full race results, including driver’s starting positions in parenthesis:

Modified Results

1. Todd Shute (4), 2. Rodney Sanders (1), 3. Ryan Gustin (6), 4. Philip Houston (5), 5. Ryan Mikkelson (8), 6. Stormy Scott (24), 7. Jacob Gallardo (7), 8. Chad Olsen (2), 9. Darron Fuqua (19), 10. Matt Leer (17), 11. Matt Gilbertson (21), 12. Blake Jegtvig (20), 13. Kyle Beard (3), 14. Scott Bintz (12), 15. Alex Stanford (16), 16. Kent Arment (11), 17. Justin Rexwrinkle (15), 18. Christy Georges-Barnett (14), 19. Royal Jones (13), 20. Joe Duvall (18), 21. Shawn Fletcher (23), 22. Brad Dierks (9), 23. Travis Peery (10), 24. Fito Gallardo (22)
Sunday, January 17, 2016
Tucson, Arizona
Mother Nature has a sick sense of humor, at times. A week removed from receiving a month’s worth of rain, in a week’s time in Tucson, Arizona, we had the best weather of the entire Wild West Shootout on Sunday. It was bright and sunny, 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky! I joked with some of the drivers and crews that at least we’re “sending them off” with good weather! Those who have raced in Tucson before, know this is how our weather usually is, even during the “winter months”, so the weather we experienced last week was mostly an anomaly. I arrived around 2:30pm local time and discovered a lot of moisture had been applied to the track, eliminating any concern that the track may become dry, due to being exposed to many hours of direct sunlight.
We had the best weather on Sunday – 70 degrees and sunny – Tucson, Arizona
Overall, the track conditions were very similar each night of the Wild West Shootout, save for a bumpy surface on the first weekend. Track officials did an excellent job, as no lane had a distinct advantage over another, during any night of competition. Track conditions lent itself for a lot of side-by-side racing and allowed for a decent amount of passing. Ultimately, a driver’s success was mainly determined by how fast their car was, or how well it handled, combined with their starting position. Being that “passing points” were utilized throughout the entire event, drivers were awarded for making big moves and advancing several positions, during heat races. Most drivers that started up-front in the main event were able to hold-on for a decent finishing position. Some drivers were able to make big moves in the main event, advancing several positions, but we did not see a driver start outside of the top-10, charge to the front and get a win. While the track conditions were not perfect, throughout the 6 race mini-series, the conditions were good and created the opportunity for close, competitive racing! 
53 Late Models stayed to do battle on the final night with Ricky Thornton Jr, “Kid Smooth” Billy Moyer Jr, “The Kentucky Colonel” Steve Francis, Justin Duty, “The Sandman” Rodney Sanders and Terry Phillips all enjoying heat race wins. Only 31 Modifieds stayed for the last race on Sunday, with Travis Peery, “Todzilla” Todd Shute and Stormy Scott winning heat races. The track was just like it had been all weekend, starting to get dry in the middle/bottom, while the top held a little moisture. However, as the night progressed, the cushion became smaller and smaller, making it treacherous to run the high-side. Listed below are my race recap stories, including results:

Late Models

Late Models did a 4-wide salute on Sunday! 50 laps for $11,000 to win

“The Bluegrass Bandit” Darrell Lanigan enjoyed his pole starting position and fired-off to take the early lead. Lanigan built his lead to nearly a straightaway in the first handful of laps. Being only 5 laps into the 50-lap feature, I couldn’t help but wonder how the story would go, if Lanigan went-on to lead all 50 laps, to win $11,000. However, my thoughts were quickly dashed, as his right front tire made contact with Jimmy Mars’ left rear tire, as he was attempting to lap him, causing Lanigan to spin to the inside of the front stretch on lap 8, bringing out the races first caution.
Darrell Lanigan spun from the lead on lap 8, causing the race’s first caution
This allowed fellow front-row starter, Jason Papich, to take-over the lead. 7th place starter, “Superman” Jonathan Davenport had already worked himself into the top-5 and seemed to have the best car. On the ensuing restart, Papich jumped-out to an early lead, as Davenport charged to 2nd place by lap 15. At that moment, I thought what a big win it would be, if Papich could lead the rest of the way and win $11,000. However, with “Superman” in the house, even his straightaway lead wasn’t safe. Davenport was clearly running-down Papich, when the race had it’s 2nd caution of the night on lap 20, as Ricky Weiss and Brandon Sheppard both slowed in Turns 1 and 2. Papich was still leading Davenport, with Terry Phillips in 3rd, but his lead was to be short-lived. Davenport completed the pass on Papich, with what appeared to be relative ease, on lap 26 and begun driving away from the field! Garrett Alberson slowed on the exit of turn 4, to bring out the 3rd and final caution of the night, on lap 32. Ricky Thornton Jr and “The Reaper” Ryan Gustin were able to sneak-by Papich for 2nd place, before the caution, putting them in 2nd and 3rd, before the race’s final restart. However, much like most of the Wild West Shootout, no one had anything for “Superman” Jonathan Davenport on Sunday night. Davenport fired-off from the late race restart, stretching his lead to nearly a full straightaway by the time he crossed the line on lap 50, pocketing the $11,000 payday! Arizona Modified ace, Ricky Thornton Jr held-on to finish 2nd, with Gustin, Papich and “The Kentucy Colonel” Steve Francis, rounding-out the top-5. 
“Superman” Jonathan Davenport charged from 7th to win on Sunday, collecting $11,000!
Arizona Modified racer, Ricky Thornton Jr, enjoyed a solid 2nd place effort on Sunday
“The Reaper” Ryan Gustin & Jason Papich both had solid runs in the 50-lap finale, finishing 3rd & 4th
I think the most surprising thing about the 2016 Wild West Shootout, was the lack of surprises. “Superman” Jonathan Davenport did what everyone thought he would: He came down in his Kevin Rumley-prepared Longhorn Chassis and dominated! Not only winning the 50-lap finale on Sunday, he also won 2 features earlier in the week, along with finishing 2nd, 3rd and 4th place in the three nights that he didn’t win. Davenport flexed his muscle every night, usually charging from his starting position and almost making passes look easy. It’s safe to say there was no one else worthy of winning the 2016 Wild West Shootout, as Davenport’s domination easily netted him the $2,000 Late Model point bonus as well! 
Davenport & Team celebrate with their many trophies, winning over $25,000 total, while in Arizona!
Not to the surprise of many, Clint Bowyer Racing was also very strong. They accounted for winning 3 of the 6 nights that Davenport didn’t win, as “The Real Deal” Don O’Neal won 2 and “The Bluegrass Bandit” Darrell Lanigan won 1. Both will likely be disappointed with their efforts in the 50-lap finale on Sunday, but I think they proved Arizona was a successful trip for them! Ricky Thornton Jr was among the surprises in this year’s Wild West Shootout, after finishing 2nd in the final race on Sunday. “Right Foot Ronny” Lee Hollingsworth also enjoyed a 2nd place effort on one of the nights, proving that he usually has at least 1 solid run, when he makes the trip down to Arizona. “The Kentucky Colonel” Steve Francis wasn’t able to win in Arizona, but proved that him and his team will be a force to be reckoned with in 2016, posting several strong top-5 finishes throughout the 6 race mini-series! Listed below are the rest of the Late Model results, including the driver’s starting positions in parenthesis. Also listed below are the final Late Model point standings:

Late Model Results

1. Jonathan Davenport (7), 2. Ricky Thornton Jr (6), 3. Ryan Gustin (18), 4. Jason Papich (2), 5. Steve Francis (8), 6. Chris Simpson (5), 7. Kyle Beard (23), 8. Terry Phillips (4), 9. Austin Siebert (16), 10. Billy Moyer Jr (3), 11. Morgan Bagley (19), 12. Robert Odegard (13), 13. Jake O’Neil (21), 14. Justin Duty (9), 15. RC Whitwell (20), 16. Garrett Alberson (12), 17. Chase Junghans (15), 18. Don O’Neal (17), 19. Billy Moyer Sr (14), 20. Rodney Sanders (10), 21. Ricky Weiss (11), 22. Brandon Sheppard (24), 23. Darrell Lanigan (1), 24. Jimmy Mars (22)

Final Late Model Point Standings

1. Jonathan Davenport – 390, 2. Darrell Lanigan – 292, 3. Don O’Neal – 287, 4. Steve Francis – 271, 5. Jason Papich – 261, 6. Chris Simpson – 252, 7. Shane Clanton – 210, 8. Garrett Alberson – 202, 9. Billy Moyer Sr – 197, 10. Rodney Sanders – 194, 11. Brandon Sheppard – 181, 12. Jason Krohn – 179, 13. AJ Diemel – 174, 14. Ryan Gustin – 169, 15. Billy Moyer Jr – 161, 16. Kyle Beard – 158, 17. Morgan Bagley – 157, 18. Ricky Thornton Jr – 151, 19. Jimmy Mars – 150, 20. Terry Phillips – 148
Also, here’s a breakdown of each Late Model driver, including how many main events they made, their best feature finish and total winnings, during the 6 race mini-series:


The Modifieds had a wild final feature on Sunday night, as there were multiple red flags and cautions. Travis Peery started on the pole position, but it was outside pole sitter, Joe Duvall who shot-out to the early lead. Unfortunately, the race lasted only 9 laps, before the first red flag was shown, as a light pole went-out in Turn 1, making it difficult for drivers to see. After about 15 minutes was spent to repair the light, the field went back green, with Duvall still out front, Stormy Scott in 2nd and Jacob Gallardo in 3rd. Scott and Gallardo would enjoy a fierce battle, as both were able to pass Duvall on the ensuing restart, with Gallardo getting by both of them. Unfortunately, it was only 2 laps later that Ryan Mikkelson went for a wild ride in Turn 1, bringing out the 2nd red flag of the night. Thankfully, Mikkelson was okay and it sealed Gallardo’s lead. A few caution flags slowed the race, throughout the remaining 14 laps, but no one was able to get by Gallardo. Stormy Scott gave it everything he had, but came-up just short and had to settle for 2nd place. Jacob Gallardo claimed the $2,000 Modified finale on Sunday, while “Todzilla” Todd Shute enjoyed a solid 3rd place finish, clinching the $1,000 Modified point bonus! 
Jacob Gallardo held-on to win the $2,000 finale on Sunday night!
Stormy Scott gave it everything he had, but settled for 2nd place on Sunday
“Toddzilla” Todd Shute had a solid 3rd place run on Sunday & clinched the Modified point bonus
The Modifieds were much less predictable during the 2016 Wild West Shootout. Initially, it appeared to be all Cade Dillard, until he crashed hard on Wednesday night, ending his week early. “The Reaper” Ryan Gustin also showed flashes of brilliance, winning 2 nights in-a-row, but had difficulty maintaining consistency throughout the week. By far the most consistent, was Iowa racer Todd Shute, as he enjoyed solid finishes nearly every night, along with winning the feature on Saturday night. He was most deserving of the $1,000 Modified points bonus! Listed below are the full Modified results from Sunday night, including the driver’s starting positions in parenthesis. Also listed below is the final Modified point standings:

Modified Results

1. Jacob Gallardo (3), 2. Stormy Scott (7), 3. Todd Shute (6), 4. Darron Fuqua (8), 5. Blake Jegtvig (21), 6. Matt Gilbertson (11), 7. Joe Duvall (2), 8. Philip Houston (12), 9. Matt Leer (4), 10. Shawn Fletcher (16), 11. Alex Stanford (15), 12. Chad Olsen (10), 13. Christy Georges-Barnett (17), 14. Scott Bintz (24), 15. Jeff Hartley (22), 16. Travis Peery (1), 17. Daniel Anders (23), 18. Brad Dierks (13), 19. Greg Jelvik (20), 20. Greg Chesley (19), 21. Fito Gallardo (18), 22. Rodney Sanders (5), 23. Ryan Mikkelson (14), 24. Justin Rexwrinkle (9)

Final Modified Point Standings

1. Todd Shute – 309, 2. Philip Houston – 275, 3. Darron Fuqua – 272, 4. Matt Leer – 264, 5. Matt Gilbertson – 256, 6. Stormy Scott – 237, 7. Ryan Gustin – 216, 8. Brad Dierks – 198, 9. Shawn Fletcher – 187, 10. Blake Jegtvig – 185, 11. Cade Dillard – 178, 12. Rodney Sanders – 177, 13. Ryan Mikkelson – 176, 14. Chad Olsen – 173, 15. Danny Bayor – 148



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