USAC's yearly trek out west always promises to be two successive weekends of down and out, wheel to wheel, excitement. And the first leg of this year's trek, that to the 50th Annual Western World Championships at Arizona Speedway, proved to be nothing less than what was advertised.
Friday night saw Indianapolis native Tyler Courtney dominate most of a 30 lap feature that was rife with accidents and flips. But as the near constant safety cars bunched up the field, Courtney, who after the weekend sits 4th in points, found himself vulnerable in the closing laps, banging wheels with Thomas Meseraull.
Meseraull, who was out of a ride mere weeks ago, ran afoul of Courtney on the lap 23 restart and found himself on the wrong side of the cushion, kissing the guard rail.
But Meseraull persisted, keeping his car on track and keeping his car in third for the final restart of the night. He and Brady Bacon quickly got around Courtney and spent the remainder of the race dueling side by side, Meseraull on the high side and Bacon on the low side.
In the end, it was Meseraull who edged out the young Bacon, pipping him to the line by .334 of a second.
Had Bacon been able to finish the race in the lead he would have been, perhaps the first time in history, a driver who came from flipping his car.
A poor performance for points leader Justin Grant allowed for Ione, California's Chris Windom to eek into the lead of the points.
Saturday saw Friday's winner Thomas Meseraull starting on pole and looked to continue his winning ways, even after banging wheel on the first lap with fellow front row starter Brady Boa.
Boa slipped back due the contact, allowing for RJ Johnson and Indiana native Chase Stockton to slip by him into 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Stockton, who has not won since the 2016 Indiana Sprint Week Race at Terre Houte, waited patiently, and saw his opportunity on lap 10 when he cut by Johnson and set his sights on Maseraull.
A mere two laps later Stockton got his chance once again, lining up the leader into turn one, he dove to the inside, executing a picture perfect slide around the corner.
Maseraull stuck around for a few laps, attempting to harass Stockton, but there was never any real competition as Stockton roared off into the distance and on to win the race.
In terms of the championship race, which will wrap up next Saturday at Perris Auto Speedway, new points leader Chris Windom had a less than stellar race, finishing in 17th and allowing Justin Grant to eek back a few points by finishing 14th. Windom remains the points leader, but only just.
At the end of the day the top two were seperated by only 3 points with Kevin Thomas Jr. trailing by a distant 82 points. Unless something completely unexpected happens, next weekend will be a battle between Windom and Grant for the championship.
Races start Friday at the P.A.S and continue on Saturday with the green flag for the season finale dropping at 7:00 PST.