We honor our 2016 Regional National Divisional Champions, taking a breif look back at their 2016 season. Check back for updates daily.
2016 Region II Modified Champion: Ryan Writsel, Orient, OH, “Lucky Stryke”
Writsel won in his first season in Modified competition; it’s his first NTPA title since 2003 (Super Modified Four Wheel Drive). Every finish for the twin-engine machine was top-three, while his nine wins included two three-hook winning streaks, one of which ended the season. “Lucky Stryke” proved to be versatile, too; in its three-engine configuration, it qualified for the Super Sunday ring round in Bowling Green. Reigning champ Don Deane and his “Plumbers Nitemare” (-31) finished second.
2016 Region III Light Super Stock Champion: Marty Nelson, Almena, WI, “Just-a-Case”
Nelson based his case for a title on four wins in five hooks including the season’s opener and closer in Ellsworth and Ridgeland. But the “Red Thunder” Team (-3) kept the race close with a win of their own in Menomonie, and as of the Lions Club’s Saturday afternoon luncheon, the two were tied. But that evening, Nelson “Just-a”-fied his championship by completing a Norwalk sweep. “Red Thunder” earned the combined Region III/V Enderle berth by doubling in New Hampton.
2016 Region II Super Stock Diesel 4x4 Champion: Van Haisley, Fairmount, IN, “Rock Hard Ram”
Eight top fives and a win in Springfield earned Haisley his second title (2011). Brion Withrow’s “Nut Job” (-11) led for the first half of the season after scoring wins in Greentown and Charlotte among the first three hooks. But Withrow, who won once more late in the year in Findlay, couldn’t match the “Rock”-solid consistency of Haisley, who pulled into a tie with his midseason victory and averaged 27.6 points per hook. Don Bowling and Curt Haisley had two wins apiece.
2016 Region II Modified Mini Champion: Todd Bultman, Zeeland, MI, “Stress Relief”
Opening the season with six consecutive victories and finishing with nine wins in 13 hooks will tend to alleviate one’s anxiety, but Bultman had an objective besides the region title: Overcoming the missed 2015 Allegan wraparound to qualify for the 2016 Enderle. He made up that ground by finishing out of the top three only once, and he made the most of his trip to Urbana with a win at the 30th. Tim Rea’s “Wicked Sensation” (-30) had a string of five top threes to land in second.
2016 Region II Two Wheel Drive Champion: Randy Petro, Camden, Ohio, “Kathy’s Komplaint”
With help from friends Chad Mayhill, Marvin Epperson, and Jeff Shafer, Petro’s classic ride captured its first title since 2011 and first regional crown since 2007. “Vintage KK” scored top-two finishes (four wins, seven seconds) in almost half of its 23 appearances, then advanced to—and won—the Enderle from the region’s Western berth. Bill Widenmeyer’s “Twin T” (-100) won once in 26 showings; Jeff Writsel’s “At It Again” matched Petro’s win total toward capturing the Eastern berth.
2016 Region II Four Wheel Drive Champions: Chris & Christopher Taylor, Eaton, IN, “Grain Hollers Mafia”
It all came down to the final hook on Labor Day in Findlay, where Chris and Christopher Taylor clinched their second championship in three years. Qualifying for the four-hook pull-off was enough to edge out “The Detonator” (-1), which was piloted by Pat Pixley on behalf of the late Dave Weiss. The two trucks were never separated by more than seven points and were tied as late as midseason after Springfield. Ron Newell had the most wins on the 13-hook schedule with four.
2016 Region II Light Pro Stock Champion: Kendall Houk, Lynchburg, OH, “Nothing Special”
Mike Palmer’s reconstructed “Red Avenger” (-167.5) won twice and had eight top-five finishes, and Travis Tilton and Gary Holman each scored three wins. But the long Light Pro campaign rewarded the steady, consistent performance of the first-time champion Houk, whose 28 appearances resulted in 11 top fives and a 7.3 average finish position. “Nothing Special” made it to all but three events on the grueling schedule and won early in Boswell to assume a lead he would not surrender.
2016 Region II Limited Pro Stock Champion: Doug McKinley, Winamac, IN, “Knight Train”
Pulling out of the station, the “Train” was on track for a division title, earning victories in South Bend and Logansport to open the season and a 30-point second place in Preble. With an average finish of 3.2 across five competitive hooks, 2015’s third-place tractor stayed ahead of Jerry Wisel’s “Constant Conflict” (-6.5). McKinley’s Case was only the second eagle-branded machine and the first since 2007 to qualify for the Enderle Pull-Off.
2016 Region II Super Farm Champion: Stan Warda, Berrien Springs, MI, “Hammerin’ Hank”
After finishing third in the region in 2015, “Hank” touched all the bases at the June pull in Napoleon for the first of five season wins (South Bend, Logansport, Springfield, and Brandenburg). No other regional competitor won more than twice. Most closely pursued by the Capozzos’ “Cruel Intentions” (-55), Warda made it to every event after the Fremont rainout. An eighth place in a class of 44 on Sunday at the Budweiser Dairyland Super Nationals in Tomah was a season highlight.
2016 Region II Pro Stock Champion: Ryan Walters, Wharton, OH, “Chasin’ Tail”
Walters’ Massey won the first regional Pro Stock title since 2011 as the only competitor to attend all five of the division’s appearances. Rainouts in Alliance and Rushville shortened the season to three competitive hooks and the race to the Enderle, won by Cory Hoffman’s “King of Deeres” (-28), to only two; both were invited. But Walters scored a fourth in Allegan in the region’s final contest to secure his third championship (2010, 2008).
2016 Region II Light Super Stock Champion: Rex Kuhn, Morristown, IN, “Git-R-Done”
Competing on the regional level after a decade on the Grand National stage, Kuhn went undefeated in point competition in his home state. Wins in the season’s first three contests in Boswell, South Bend, and Logansport built a nine-point lead over fellow Hoosier and 2015 champ Anthony Hart and “Hart’s Desire” (-5). Kuhn clinched the title in Urbana, then completed the season with wins at the 50th National Tractor Pulling Championships and 30th Enderle Pull-Off.
2016 Region II Heavy Super Stock Champion: John Pfeiffer, Connersville, IN, “Pfeiffermax”
It was a season-long battle for supremacy between Pfeiffer and defending champion Kent Payne and his “Super Rooster” (-4.5). “Pfeiffermax” posted wins in Charlotte and Zanesville; Payne was second both times. “Rooster” posted 10 wins including five straight at midseason; Pfeiffer was a point back on all five occasions. The difference was endurance: Pfeiffer made it to all 14 class appearances with a 3.0 average finish, while breakage sidelined Payne for one hook in July.