By Tyson Graves
Photo: Mike Ruefer/Brendon Bauman
Wild West Shootout
January 8, 2021 – A crazy 2020 season that seen a delay to the start of much racing across the country is now behind us. What does 2021 hold in store for the racing world? Well we are yet to see, but one thing is certain it is here! Last weekend the country got a teaser with the Lucas Oil Tulsa Shootout where the racing world got to whet its appetite for the 2021 race season.
Tonight it all gets real as cars will take the to FK Rod Ends Raceway for the 15th Annual Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout. The fifteenth annual event has a start studded field on tap to kick off the Late Model season. Drivers like Jonathan Davenport, a three-time World 100 winner is making the trek to the desert to start his 2021 campaign. Wild West regulars like Bobby Pierce, Chris Simpson, Billy Moyer and others will once again start their seasons as well in the desert. Brian Shirley, after a successful shootout last year, winning three races also returns at a chance to fire the six-shooters and take home a bonus.
Some new faces will be in attendance this year. Illinois drivers Jason Feger and Bob Gardner have made the trip out west to shake down their 2021 rides. Jason Feger is a driver who in the second half of the season had found his mojo again. Feger won a couple of Summer National races and a Mars Series win in September at Farmer City Raceway. Ricky Thornton Jr will make his appearance with the SSI Motorsports team as the get geared up for a run at the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Rookie honors. Tyler Erb, Mike Marlar, and Gundaker brothers will also be in attendance to make this one stout field that will chase after that quarter of a million Keyser Manufacturing bonus if they could win all six events.
There will be many storylines to follow for the next week and half. How will Mallory fit in with the Pierce team? Can Shirley stay as hot as his 2020 season? How will Midwest standouts like Rusty Schlenk and Gordy Gundaker fair? Is Superman back in form to compete for another Lucas Oil title? Can Ricky Thornton Jr carry on his 2020 speed into this year. These are all questions we hope to learn by the mini-series completion. On thing is certain their will be a new points champion in 2021. Brandon Sheppard, who has won the last two titles will not be in competition as he heads to the World of Outlaw Late Model season opener in Florida.
Chili Bowl Nationals
Another major event to kick off the 2021 season will begin on Monday. The 35th Annual Chili Bowl Nationals from Tulsa, Oklahoma has qualifying night number one Monday evening to kick off the Midget racing season. Last year we saw Kyle Larson break through and capture his first golden driller trophy. After that we saw Kyle have one of the most successful open wheel season in recent memory winning wherever he went.
Over 300+ entries will try to make their way to that 55-lap A main on Saturday night that is the most sought after win in all of open wheel racing. The field is full of past winners, current stars of the sport and some making their first ever attempt at running indoors on the little over fifth-mile oval.
Some of the storylines to follow through the Chili Bowl will be fun to watch. Can Christopher Bell return to victory lane in Tulsa after being dethroned by Kyle Larson in 2020? How will rookies like NASCAR Champion Chase Elliot and DIRTcar National Champion Nick Hoffman fair in their first attempts? Who out of the best drivers that has never won a driller break through? Names like Grant, Thorson, Courtney, Allgaier would all like to etch their names in the history books. Can Keith Kunz return to victory lane in Tulsa, a strong lineup as always including two-time winner Rico Abreu?
One thing is for certain, during the six days in Tulsa we will see some the best racing you will see anywhere all year long. Only the best of the best will survive and make the A-Main. A lot of good drivers will be forced to run the alphabet soup on Saturday and some will make it and some will not. The excitement and drama will be thick as the week winds down.
Tune In LIVE
You can see every lap of the Wild West Shooutout LIVE on FloRacing. For the complete series schedule go to www.wildwestshootout.net. Every lap of the preliminary nights of the Chili Bowl Nationals can be seen LIVE as well at FloRacing. For complete schedule go to chilibowl.com. All results and recaps can be found right here at www.racingperformancemedia.com