Moyer Strikes Gold at Wild West Opener
Tucson, Az. (Jan. 14, 2012)- In each of the past two seasons, Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., has won half of the six races at USA Raceway’s Wild West Shootout. He’s positioned himself nicely to potentially accomplish the feat for the third straight year after dominating the first round of the unsanctioned miniseries Saturday at the 3/8-mile oval.
The polesitting Moyer jumped to the lead at the outset and was never challenged in cruising to the 30-lap victory, his eighth checkered flag on the Arizona miniseries and seventh in Tucson. Only a few mid-race cautions kept him within shouting distance of 23 pursuers.
“The car drove real good. You know, we made some changes over the winter a little bit on the stuff, and it seemed to work pretty good here tonight,” Moyer said. “It wasn’t perfect, but it never is I don’t guess. It’s not doing everything perfect, but it beat ‘em tonight and we’ll just have to keep tweaking on it and getting ready for the rest of the year.”
Although he finished far behind the winner, fifth-starting Will Vaught of Crane, Mo., won a tight duel over the last 10 laps with Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., to grab the second spot. The runner-up Vaught, who regained the spot from Babb on the final lap, also survived wheel-hopping contact with a pressuring Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., midway through the race.
Mars and 13th-starting Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., debuting a new Warrior Race Car, rounded out the top five. Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., who had to fight back from a hot-laps accident that damaged the MasterSbilt house car, was sixth. Outside front-row starter Ronny Lee Hollingsworth of Northport, Ala., was never a factor in finishing 10th.
Moyer was a few lengths ahead of Hollingsworth in taking the green flag and was never threatened, but he knew Babb, Vaught and Mars were among cars capable of catching him on a night when 69 Super Late Model teams made the pits overflow.
“The caliber of cars that are here this year for sure, you can’t let your guard down,” Moyer said. “So I was just trying to keep my momentum up and keep the wheels under me, keep everything going.”
Vaught could only wish that his battles with Mars and Babb were for the lead instead of for the runner-up spot behind Moyer’s No. 21.
“If the 21 wasn’t here, it’d be a good day. Me and Shannon, he’s a helluva driver. To be able to race with him and Billy and Jimmy and be up front with them guys, that’s a big accomplishment.”
Babb, making his USA Raceway debut, made a rare early-season appearance in combining a racing trip to pick up a car from his manufacturer.
“We came out here, really to pick up another chassis from Victory Circle, and also to race,” Babb said. “It’s fun when you get your whole program together where you can go do different things. Hell, it’s January, and I know it’s cold in Illinois, so it’s fun to be racing here.”
Two cautions slowed the 30-lapper. Ricky Weiss slowed in turn one on the 13th lap, retiring to the infield after the yellow flag flew. On the restart, Frank Heckenast Jr. had just taken the fifth spot from Ronny Lee Hollingsworth when he slammed an infield tire barrier in turn three. Terry Phillips, Billy Moyer Jr. and Duke Whiseant got banged up in the resulting scramble as the field tried to avoid Heckenast.
The Arizona miniseries continues Sunday with a $5,000-to-win event, the second of six unsanctioned races. Hot laps are scheduled for 12:30 p.m. with racing at 1 p.m.
Race notes: Moyer’s Victory Circle Chassis is sponsored by L&D Trucking and Henderson Motorsports. … Moyer is just one victory shy of all-time WWS leader Terry Phillips, who has nine victories. … Mike Balcaen slowed dropped out after completing a single lap. … Randy Korte retired to the infield on the sixth lap. … Jason Hughes turned back a challenge from Stormy Scott to win the modified feature. Scott was second with Rodney Sanders third.
Wild West Shootout (first round): (1) Billy Moyer, (2) Will Vaught, (3) Shannon Babb, (4) Jimmy Mars, (5) Tim McCreadie, (6) Don O’Neal, (7) Brad Looney, (8) Morgan Bagley, (9) John Anderson, (10) Ronny Lee Hollingsworth, (11) Justin Kay, (12) Bub McCool, (13) Nick Bartels, (14) Jesse Stovall, (15) Jon Kirby, (16) Chris Shannon, (17) Terry Phillips, (18) Ricky Thornton Jr., (19) Duke Whiseant, (20) Billy Moyer Jr., (21) Frank Heckenast Jr., (22) Ricky Weiss, (23) Randy Korte, (24) Mike Balcaen. Heat race winners (among 69 cars): Korte, Stovall, Mars, Anderson, McCool, Moyer. Consolation winners: McCreadie, O’Neal, Kirby.
Correction: Reverses second- and third-place finishers Will Vaught and Shannon Babb in rundown.
Saturday’s preliminaries (finishes unofficial):
Third consolation Polesitter Jon Kirby went unchallenged to earn a starting spot in his first WWS feature. He finished a straightaway ahead of the other three transferring drivers: sixth-starting Mike Balcaen, outside front-row starter Ricky Weiss and Duke Whiseant, who mixed it up much of the race. Shane Clanton was added to the lineup after missing the first consy.
Finish: Jon Kirby, Ricky Weiss, Mike Balcaen, Duke Whiseant, Chris Simpson, Rob Mayea, Clay Daly, Robert Sanders, Jeff Provinzino, Leon Henderson, Shane Clanton, Ray Moore, Todd Frank, Shane Edginton, James Chavez Jr., Matt Micheli, Rick Butler. Scratched: Mark Herrera, Travis Gorsuch, John Lobb
Second consolation Polesitter Don O’Neal jumped to the lead at the outset and fought off fellow front-row starter Billy Moyer Jr. for the victory.
Moyer went ahead mid-way through the 12-lapper but O’Neal made a daring move in traffic to go back ahead. They transferred to the main event alng with third-starting Terry Phillips and Ricky Thornton Jr., who outdueled Garrett Alberson. O’Neal needed a push to the scales after the checkers. On the first attempted start, Mark Carrell and Dereck Ramirez banged together on the backstretch, collecting Rick Shafer. John Lowrey and Don Shaw barely avoided the scrape, which took about 10 minutes to clean up. Carrell’s car departed between two wreckers.
Finish: Don O’Neal, Billy Moyer Jr., Terry Phillips, Ricky Thornton Jr., Garrett Alberson, Dean Moore, Tony Toste, Don Shaw, John Lowrey, Jason McBride, Ron Bartels, Brad Williams, Al Humphrey, Rick Shafer, David Vennard, Brant Kehrer, Dereck Ramirez, Mark Carrell. Scratched: Klint Byars.
First consolation Polesitter Tim McCreadie jumped into the early lead and cruised to victory in the first 12-lap consy. He transferred to the main event along with Nick Bartels, Justin Kay and seventh-starting Chris Shannon. Bartels started outside the front row and fought off race-long challenges from Kay.
Finish: Tim McCreadie, Nick Bartels, Justin Kay, Chris Shannon, Steve Isenberg, Tim Isenberg, Scott Creel, Joey Moriarty, Ross Camponovo, Lonnie Parker Jr., Paul Mueller, Justin Asplin, Trevor Glaser, Scott Ward, Jason Papich, Ed Turnbull, Paul Guglielmoni. Scratched: Dane Dacus, Shane Clanton.
Pre-heat notes The 69 Late Model entries is 20 more cars than 2011′s WWS opener. … Long-time Billy Moyer crew chief Steve Norris, 50, will be heading back home where his daughter Amanda is expected to give birth to his first grandchild on Monday morning. … Drivers draw from pills 1-100 for heat race lineups, and Mike Balcaen drew 100. “They should give you a mulligan if you draw 100,” the Canadian driver cracked. … The overflowing pits has several cars pitting outside the main gate, including Late Model drivers Brad Looney and Brad Williams. … Modified heat race winners: Scott Ward, Rodney Sanders, Jason Krohn, Stormy Scott, Jason Hughes and Tyson Turnbull (Chase Junghans crossed the line first but was penalized for jumping a restart).