- January 11 , 12 , 15 , 17 , 18 , 19 , 2020
- Arizona Speedway
- Queen Creek, Arizona
We are less than a week into the new year, which can only mean one thing: racing in the desert! 2020 marks the 14th annual edition of the Wild West Shootout, a 6-race mini-series at Arizona Speedway, in Queen Creek, Arizona. Arizona has hosted Late Model racing during the month of January nearly every year consistently, since the turn of the century. Manzanita Speedway (Phoenix), Central Arizona Raceway (Casa Grande), USA Raceway (Tucson) and Arizona Speedway (Queen Creek) are the tracks and cities to host events for nearly 20 years.
There is something quite different about this year’s event, though; something which sets itself apart from its predecessors. The 2020 Wild West Shootout is not the first major Late Model race of year. The World of Outlaws Late Model Series kicked-off their 2020 season last weekend with the Battle at the Border held at Vado Speedway, in Vado, New Mexico. The event featured two consecutive first-time series winners in Ricky Weiss and Cade Dillard, after Chris Madden claimed the opening night’s feature. Dillard’s triumph on Sunday netted him $15,000, while Weiss claimed $5,000 on Saturday. Both look to ride their wave of momentum into the Wild West Shootout. Defending World of Outlaws Late Model Champion, Brandon Sheppard, is already out to the early points lead as he heads to Arizona. Not surprisingly, you’ll hear more about these three drivers, later.
Keyser Manufacturing returns as the Shootout’s primary sponsor, along with their Quarter-Million Challenge:
Keyser Quarter-Million Challenge
- 3 wins = $10,000
- 4 wins = $25,000
- 5 wins = $100,000
- 6 wins = $250,000
But just how likely is a driver to earn three or more Late Model victories, during the 6-race series?
Statistically, on the rise.
Oakwood, Illinois’ Bobby Pierce has earned three Wild West Shootout victories in two of the last three years. Pierce won three out of the only four races held in 2017, after inclement weather canceled the final two events. Before Pierce, Jonathan Davenport did it in 2016, the last time this event was held in Tucson. Billy Moyer Sr., the winningest driver in Wild West Shootout history, claimed the feat consecutively from 2010 – 2012. Before Moyer, it was Terry Phillips in 2006 and 2007. Not coincidentally, Moyer Sr., Phillips and Pierce rank first, second and third on the Shootout’s all-time wins list. Pierce’s became the first driver to earn a piece of the Keyser Quarter-Million Challenge last year, as his three feature victories in 2019 earned him a $10,000 bonus. Our mention of Pierce segways perfectly to our list of favorites for the 2020 Wild West Shootout:
“Smooth Operator” Bobby Pierce has to be the favorite entering the 2020 Wild West Shootout. The 2017 event Champion has won 6 of the last 16 Late Model features contested at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway, with all six wins coming in odd number years. Pierce looks to get his first win of 2020 after overcoming adversity in New Mexico, last weekend. Bobby got caught up in an accident on lap 17 in the Sunday finale, when he spun to avoid a crash in front of him and climbed the wall with his left rear tire, nearly getting upside down. Pierce and team were able to make repairs and he charged back to finish 10th, to go along with his 15th and 11th place finishes during the Battle at the Border event with the World of Outlaws.
Another Illinois-native joins Pierce, with Berlin’s Brandon Sheppard coming in a close second on our list of favorites. “B-Shepp” is the defending Wild West Shootout Champion and the defending World of Outlaws Late Model Series Champion. Not surprisingly, he enters the 2020 Wild West Shootout as the current WoO Late Model Series point leader, after posting three second-place finishes in New Mexico. Sheppard also claimed victory in the 2018 Wild West Shootout finale, netting him $12,000. Overall, Sheppard has been the winningest and, arguably, the best Late Model driver in the country, since that win.
“Manitoba Missile” Ricky Weiss makes his way to Arizona for at least the 5th consecutive year, as he consistently starts his racing season in the warmer climate offered by the desert, when compared to his home in the great white north. Weiss has been one of the hottest Late Model drivers in the country as of late, claiming his first career World of Outlaws Series feature win last weekend, in New Mexico. Surprisingly, most of Weiss’ success has only come recently, after the Canadian driver teamed-up with Dirt Late Model racing royalty, Scott Bloomquist. Since joining Team Zero in 2018, Weiss has won four Wild West Shootout feature victories (two in 2018 and two in 2019), which includes the $14,000 finale last year. Also, Weiss competed in the entire 2019 World of Outlaws Late Models schedule, earning Rookie of the Year honors. Ricky’s success is no longer a surprise, as we expect him to continue his winning ways in 2020!
“Thriller” Cade Dillard is another young superstar in the Dirt Late Model world and he concludes our list of favorites for the 2020 Wild West Shootout. Just like Weiss, Dillard also earned his first career World of Outlaws Late Model Series feature victory last weekend in New Mexico, after competing on the full series tour for the first time, last year. Dillard earned finishes of 8th and 6th, to go along with his first win, last weekend. Cade also has a history of success in the Wild West Shootout, as he earned a $5,000 payday last year, which was his first major victory in Late Model competition. Dillard also found success in 2016, where he won three of first four USRA Modified features, before crashing out of the entire event. He was also leading Wednesday night’s Late Model main event in 2018, before tangling with a lapped car. Dillard has proven that he can be a threat to win on nearly any night of the Wild West Shootout and we only expect that trend to continue in 2020!
In-addition to the Keyser Quarter-Million Challenge, Late Model drivers will also be competing for $5,000 feature victories on each night of the 2020 Wild West Shootout, with a $15,000 payday being awarded to the winner of the finale, on Sunday, January 19th. Points will be awarded throughout the entire 6-race mini-series, with the Champion earning $3,000 of the $10,000 points fund. The remaining $7,000 will be split amongst the rest of the top-10, in the final point standings.
USRA Modifieds will also compete all six nights, with main event wins paying $1,000 nightly, before being inflated to $2,000-to-win on each Sunday night. Modified drivers will be competing for a $3,000 point fund, with $1,000 going to the event Champion and the remaining $2,000 being split amongst the rest of the top-5, in final points.
X-Modifieds, or X-Mods (combines WISSOTA B-Mod, USRA B-Mod and IMCA Sport Mod rules) will also be in competition on each of the six nights of the 2020 Wild West Shootout. Their features will pay $500 to win nightly, before being inflated to $1,000-to-win on each Sunday night. They will also compete for a $2,500 point fund across the mini-series, with $1,000 being paid to the event Champion and the remaining $1,500 going to the rest of the top-10, in the final point standings.
Overall, there is plenty of money to be won during the 2020 Wild West Shootout, with nearly $300,000 available if a Late Model driver can accomplish the unthinkable, and sweep the entire 6-race mini-series. There will also be a $100 bonus paid to the fastest Late Model qualifier each night, courtesy of SportTruck RV and Screven Motor Speedway. Gorsuch Performance has stepped-up and will also award a $100 bonus to the Late Model driver who earns the pole starting position, for each feature event. Also, Premier Waste Services has posted a $1,000 “Shock the Clock” Challenge, which will be awarded to the Late Model driver who sets the fastest qualifying lap throughout the entire 6-race series.
If you can’t join us at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway, then we encourage you to follow along with The Dirt Network each night, as we will have pictures and updates for each night of racing action during the 2020 Wild West Shootout.
DirtonDirt continues to offer the ability to order live flag-to-flag action for each night of the Shootout, including a complete package bundle for the entire 6-race series:
Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. Short track racing is my passion!