Thornton Runs Down Davenport Out West

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Ricky Thornton Jr. on his way to victory Sunday at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway. (Mike Ruefer Photo)
Ricky Thornton Jr. on his way to victory Sunday at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway. (Mike Ruefer Photo)

SAN TAN VALLEY, Ariz. – Ricky Thornton Jr. chased down Jonathan Davenport and pulled away to win night two of the 15th annual Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway on Sunday night.

Fast qualifier Brian Shirley wasted no time when the green flag waved for the feature, jumping out to the early lead over his competitors in the Dirt Track Bank Super Late Model division presented by Black Diamond Race Cars.

Davenport, who won Saturday’s feature, also wasted little time, as he charged from his fifth starting position to occupy second when the first of three caution flags were displayed on lap six, when Jake Timm slowed at the exit of turn four.

Unfortunately for Shirley, this would be the last time he would lead Sunday’s race, as Davenport flew around his outside on the ensuing restart and began to stretch his lead, with Thornton tagging along. Working primarily on the bottom of the track, it took Thornton Jr. a few laps to clear Shirley for second before he began to set his sights on Davenport.

Lap 11 saw the second caution flag wave, ironically for car number 11, when Trevor Gundaker slowed to a stop in turn four.  This erased Davenport’s lead, but he picked up where he left off on the ensuing restart and ran away from the field, with Thornton still in pursuit.

Davenport remained largely unchallenged until he began to encounter traffic at the race’s halfway mark. Thornton quickly began closing on Davenport and made his move at the completion of lap 23, at the exit of turn four. Davenport was slowed by a bit of traffic and Thornton pounced, darting to the inside of both cars, using the traffic as a pick and successfully clearing Davenport by the time they reached turn one.

The third and final caution flag waved on the 31st circuit, as Rusty Schlenk slowed at the exit of turn two, erasing Thornton’s nearly three second lead. Thornton launched without hesitation during the restart and never looked back, cruising to win his first Wild West Shootout feature victory in the Dirt Track Bank Super Late Model.

Thornton crossed the finish line 1.015 seconds ahead of Davenport, who settled for the runner-up position on Sunday. Thornton’s triumph makes him the 39th different Super Late Model competitor to reach victory lane in the entire history of the Keyser Manufacturing Wild West Shootout presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts.

Davenport held on to secure the runner-up spot, while Mike Marlar, Brian Shirley and Jason Feger completed the top-five finishers on Sunday.

In the Mesilla Valley Transportation and Border Tire Modifieds presented by Arizona Differential Jake Gallardo turned back a last-lap challenge by Rodney Sanders to pick up the $2,000 feature victory.

In the RHRswag.com X-Mod division presented by Barnett Harley-Davidson, polesitter Shane Sabraski put on a dominant display to earn the $1,000 payday.

The finish:

1. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[4]; 2. 49D-Jonathan Davenport[5]; 3. 157-Mike Marlar[6]; 4. 3S-Brian Shirley[3]; 5. 25F-Jason Feger[1]; 6. 28M-Jimmy Mars[10]; 7. 1-Tyler Erb[19]; 8. 91P-Jason Papich[2]; 9. 21-Billy Moyer Sr[11]; 10. 2S-Stormy Scott[7]; 11. 1ST-Johnny Scott[20]; 12. 32S-Chris Simpson[18]; 13. 75T-Terry Phillips[21]; 14. 20-Rodney Sanders[13]; 15. 15-Donny Schatz[12]; 16. 11-Gordy Gundaker[9]; 17. 32B-Cody Laney[24]; 18. 91T-Tony Toste[15]; 19. 19-Dustin Sorensen[23]; 20. 11T-Trevor Gundaker[25]; 21. 21M-Luke Merfeld[22]; 22. 91-Rusty Schlenk[14]; 23. 49-Jake Timm[8]; 24. 32-Bobby Pierce[17]; 25. 59-Garrett Alberson[16]