January (By Tyson Graves)
Each year it seems that the Wild West Shootout becomes a bigger event to kick off the season for many race teams. Ben Shelton has done a great job promoting and making this event a staple in dirt late model racing. With racing for over a week and a shot at a quarter of a million-dollar bonus, many big teams in racing flock to the desert in hopes for big loot.
The Wild West Shootout has given one the best current drivers in our sport to compete in his family owned B5 Rocket Chassis machine. Brandon Sheppard, coming off a phenomenal 2019 including three $100+ paydays has become a regular in the desert. In 2019 Brandon came home from the desert with the Wild West Title. This year he had his hands full as Brian Shirley pulled off the opening night win and picked up two more wins in the first five races.
Brandon picked up the win in round two and three, pocketing $5,000 in each of those wins and placing himself in reach of one of the Keyser Manufacturing bonuses. After Shirley picked up wins in rounds four and five it would come down to the final night to determine the 2020 Wild West Shootout title. Despite a charge at the end of the finale, Shirley would come up short and Brandon Sheppard would win his third feature in the mini-series event. Brandon would pocket $15,000 in the finale along with a $10,000 bonus for winning three of the events. Brandon’s total haul from the desert would be $35,000 in winnings.
The 2020 Wild West Shootout was dominated by drivers from the Land of Lincoln, but it was Brandon Sheppard who took the title back home for the second year in a row. As we soon found out, Sheppard had picked up where he finished in 2019. Brandon was just getting started as we are seeing one of the greatest in the sport peaking right before our very eyes.
Photo: Mike Ruefer