VADO, N.M. — Tyler Erb has been part of plenty of excitement during the Wild West Shootout presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts at FK Rod Ends Vado Speedway Park, including a near-miss victory.
But grabbing a checkered flag is more satisfying than making the highlight reel.
“This has been my favorite night so far,” Erb said after his $5,000 Dirt Track Bank Super Late Model victory presented by Black Diamond Racecars in the fourth round of the miniseries.
The third-starting Erb won a mid-race, lead-swapping duel with pole-starting Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., and pulled away late by deftly handling traffic at the three-eighths-mile oval that’s hosting the Wild West Shootout for the first time.
Pearson finished 1.159 seconds behind Erb at the checkers while Bobby Pierce improved six positions in landing on the podium. Johnny Scott rallied from 13th to fourth and Mike Marlar survived a couples of scrapes to round out the top five.
Pearson led the first 11 laps in his traditional low groove, but when he decided to give the high side a shot on a lap-12 restart, Erb pounced and grabbed the lead. Pearson quickly retreated to his favored low groove and inched back ahead on the 14th lap, but Erb regained the point at halfway and led the rest of the 30-lap main event.
“I hated to see that caution, because I don’t think (Pearson) realized the top was getting any good yet. I just kind of committed to the top there. It bit me on Sunday by picking the bottom … we raced side-by-side what felt like forever,” Erb said. “I knew I needed to do something different here. Earl’s a great racer. He’s been good all week. I just got enough clear of him to kind of chop him getting into (turn) one, and could set my own pace from there.”
Erb stayed comfortable in command the rest of the way, getting extra breathing room with seven laps remaining when he made short work of several backmarkers.
“I knew when I passed two or three (lapped cars) right there pretty good, then moved to the middle,” said Erb, a two-time miniseries winner last year at Arizona Speedway near Phoenix. “I could tell I was a lot better and just the last lap slid (across the track) myself in both corners to be safe (and protect the lead).”
“You know, when you’re a sitting duck out there by yourself in the lead, you just don’t know which lane (to run). And on that restart, I just went around that top that one time there,” Pearson said of the lap-12 restart. “Anyway, I found out that wasn’t the place I needed to be. But anyway, we went around the bottom from there on out and had to move up (in turns three and four). But Tyler was pretty good there, ain’t no doubt, and I had to defend Pierce off. I knew he’d be around the top there. We’ll work on it. … We’re getting closer and closer and the track there, it’s fitting my style, but it’s going away too fast, then the top (groove) comes in.”
The main event’s lone caution appeared on the 12th lap when third-running Brandon Sheppard abruptly slowed with a flat right-rear tire, triggering a backstretch scramble that sent Jeff Schildmeyer for a spin.
The flat tire ended Sheppard’s chance for the $100,000, five-victory bonus that was part of the Penske Racing Shocks $300,000 Paydirt Jackpot. Sheppard, a two-race winner last weekend, still has a crack at $25,000 if he can win the final two miniseries events.
Kris Jackson picked up his second victory in RHRSwag.com X-Mod competition presented by Barnett Harley-Davidson on Friday night. The
Missouri racer stormed forward from the 15th-starting position to take the lead from early leader Reece Solander on lap seven, and then went on take the checkered flag over two seconds in front of Aaron Blacklance, Gabriel Hodges, Brian Craighead and Josh Cain.
With the win Jackson remains in contention for the Arizona Differential Four or More Challenge, which posts a $2,500 for any driver in the X-Mod division, who can win four-or-more features.
Two days after claiming his first win of the 2022 season, Rodney Sanders charged to the Mesilla Valley Transportation / Border Tire Modified feature presented by Rancho Milagro victory. The fourth-starting Texas racer overtook Tyler Peterson for the lead on lap 5. Once out front he was relatively unchallenged on his way to the $1,000 triumph.
Sanders can claim a $10,000 bonus in the Rio Grande Waste Services Four or More Challenge if he can sweep the final two miniseries events.
Feature (30 Laps): 1. 1-Tyler Erb; 2. 46-Earl Pearson Jr.; 3. 32-Bobby Pierce; 4. 1ST-Johnny Scott; 5. 157-Mike Marlar; 6. 2S-Stormy Scott; 7. 7-Ricky Weiss; 8. 58-Garrett Alberson; 9. 32B-Cody Laney; 10. 93-Mason Oberkramer; 11. 1CJ-Rusty Schlenk; 12. 75-Terry Phillips; 13. B5-Brandon Sheppard; 14. 86-Kyle Beard; 15. 49-Jake Timm; 16. 28-Jim Whistler; 17. 42S-Don Shaw; 18. 503-Jason Miles; 19. 38-Thomas Hunziker; 20. 6T-Terry Carter; 21. 19-Jeff Schildmeyer; 22. 14W-Dustin Walker; 23. 20-Rodney Sanders; 24. 37-Rob Mayea