Worthington, Ohio---Just a week removed from the National Tractor Pulling Championships, nearly half of the 2019 Grand National champions have been crowned. Hudsonville and Wellington did those honors this week by closing out the Super Semis, Light Supers, and Unlimiteds. Along with the Open Supers, Two Wheel Drives, and Light Unlimiteds that reached the ends of their tours in Bowling Green, a large number of berths in other divisions have also been secured. But there are still plenty of races---for firsts and for fifths---to discuss in this week's edition that leads into the Four Wheel Drive and Modified Mini clinchers in Wauseon.
GN Light Super Stock
Reigning Rookie and Puller of the Year Adam Spiegelberg completed his title run on four wheels with "Detonator Black." We note that seemingly insignificant fact because his crew and fellow pullers aided in making repairs to his Case IH's left spindle assembly after his pre-restart pass sent his wheel wobbling away. Spiegelberg's second and his brother Jordan's third on "Detonator Red" (-16) earned them the top two invitations, but Jason Hootman's victory with "The Commander" (-19)---its fourth of the 10-hook season---freshed everyone's memory of who's been there and won it before. Kyle Karlen completed his steady season on "Bad Blood" (-32) with a characteristic fourth, while Marcus Wettleson brought his "Gunpowder & Lead" (-33) all the way back to an Enderle berth after leaving Tomah buried in 10th.
GN Super Stock Diesel
The Rosses have some wrenching to do after a faulty sensor led to conditions that wounded their "Triple Bypass" on its Friday pull-off run. But even a bump of the sled wasn't much of a bump in the road, as their 22.5-point lead looks pretty healthy headed to the Sandwich doubleheader. Kent Payne's "Super Rooster" (+140.5 from sixth) has given good chase all year but is simply running out of hooks to make up ground, while Esdon Lehn's "Diggin' Fever" (+126.5) is in the Champaign show for sure and his "Red Line Fever" (+51.5) nearly so. Realistically, it's Steve Burge's "Lock-N-Load" (+11.5) and Mike Beck's "High Tech Red Neck" (sixth) that will be fighting for berth number five in Illinois.
GN Super Stock Open
"GALOT II" (John Strickland) won its fourth straight title in BG, but team tractor "Get a Load of That," piloted by crew chief Brent Payne, earned the ring honors. Jordan Lustik's "Silver Bullet," Sid Broughton's "Desperado," and the Kale/Jerew "Ride the Lightning" are your other Enderle qualifiers. The NTPA office received word that "Lightning" has been grounded, and so the Linvilles' "Ridge Runner," which competed for SSO points at Tomah, has been invited.
GN Super Farm
With Sandwich x 2 to go, Brady Ferris and "Absolutely Nuts" (+24 from sixth) hold a two-point lead for the title over the Saturday BG winner Jon Silsby and "Crop Doctor" (+22). But though they're well up on the field, even they are not technically safe for the Enderle just yet. Ryan Anderson's ring-winning "Checkin' Out" and Chris Weidinger's "Black Power" are both plus-nine over sixth but also could move up if conditions are right in DeKalb County. Meanwhile, the Brook Ferrises (Sr. and Jr.) are going to have to work to keep their "Assorted Nuts" in the show over the Freezes' "Deere Traxx," which has a history of strong performances at that remaining venue.
GN Pro Stock
The backloaded Pros' schedule took another step toward completion on Friday in Wellington, and it was the MAC Trailer Team that indisputably won this round. Mike Conny's "MAC Nasty" (-10 from first, +28 from sixth) bumped the sled to earn the 30, but daughter Julia Ray's patient wind at the line with "MAC Daddy" (-16, +22) led to the night's most impressive pass---370-plus with power to spare---and a second-place behind her father. That resulted in Conny's five-point pickup on Jason Svonavec's leading "Bootlegger" (+38 from sixth) and a tie with Darrin Hunt's "D2 Pro Stock Edition" for second. While no one is yet Enderle-safe, those feeling the greatest urgency are the Lemkes' "New Generation Plus" (+2), Kevin Schmucker's "Git-Er-Dun Deere" (sixth), Tim Cain's "Red Gambler" (-4 from fifth), and Danny Schmucker's "Rampage" (-9), who are probably all fighting for that fifth spot.
GN Two Wheel Drive
It's over, and the "dream season" of Russ Nichols is complete. His "On the Edge" turned in a masterful three-win, seven top-five season to hold off Bryan McDonald's "Suffering Sanity" and unseat the defending and five-time champion Randy Petro and "Kathy's Komplaint." As fate would have it, Nichols, who has a gift for drawing low numbers in BG, had the Saturday test hook. He wisely kept it and watched McDonald fall short just two trucks later and Petro drive past far enough on the pass after that for the win but not enough to collect the points necessary to overcome the deficit. Roger Simon's "Simon Sez Chevy" and Renee Theobald's "Pretty Wicked" completed the top five. Every one of them has at least one GN win to its credit, and for the first time in a decade, every one will arrive in a different hauler.
GN Four Wheel Drive
With just Wauseon to go, the Davis Motorsports Team is assured of having two trucks hook in Urbana. Peyton's "Punisher" leads the division by 11 over brother John T.'s "Young Gun," which won for the second time in three weeks and claimed the BG ring. The Holmans' "4 Play" is 26 back for the title but 29 up on sixth place, so the brothers look to make their historic 32nd Pull-Off. Last year's top two, Carmen Foster's "Foster Child" (+20 from sixth) and Ben Ellis' "Benjammin" (+13) are out of contention for the 2019 title but could still end on a high note. But to lock up that chance, they'll have to hold off Barry Cobb's suddenly dangerous "Hit Man" (sixth), which earned two seconds in the last month.
GN Super Stock Diesel 4x4
Did "Trump" get tired of winning? Um, no. Shane Kellogg asserted executive privilege over the field in Bowling Green with a win and a 30-point second to extend "Trump"'s Electoral College advantage to 11. (OK, we'll stop now.) Todd Dugan's "Angry Farmer Products" (the former "Lethal Weapon" did all right for itself with 56 points in Wood County and a near-clinch of an Enderle berth at plus-27, and Van Haisley's "Rock Hard Ram" needs to hook and not get last place in a full field on Truck Night in Sandwich and he'll be in. Not as certain are Don Bowling's "Pulling for the Cure" and Shane Wurm's "Boost," each of which leads Erik Stacey's "Smok'n Ya HD" for that final berth. Will Stacey's highly touted new chassis pay big dividends in DeKalb County?
GN Super Semi
Congratulations, Dean Holicky, who clinched with a win in Hudsonville. Your five qualifiers are Holicky's "Mother Trucker," Pat Eilen's "Just Passin' Thru in Class" (-5), Ryan DeBroux's "Playin' with Fire" (-24.5), Brian Elithorpe's "Nikki's Nightmare" (-63.5), and Jack Kielmeyer's "Jacked Up" (-104).
GN Modified Mini
A disappointing seventh in Wellington cut into Ken Veney's lead, but "Funny Lil' Farmall" (+19.5 from second) is still assured of a championship with a legal hook in Wauseon. Also certainly in after a third-place run is Joe Eder's "Polar Air" (+30 from fifth), and Adam Koester's "Walk the Line" (+25) and Chase Richardson's Spectacular-winning "Vibrator" (+20) will clinch once they are entered and teched at the Tri-State Showdown. Engaged in a battle for the final spot are Koester Racing's fifth-place "Beast of Burden" (+5) and "Footloose" (sixth).
GN Light Unlimited
Doug Theobald, Grand National Champion. The first title for the storied pulling family came in Doug's first year of competition, when by his own admission early in the season, "Everything we did went right." "Full-Blown Wicked" ended up with three victories in its rookie campaign and will be a favorite to add a fourth in Champaign County. Meanwhile, Keith Wayson's "Super Bee" had two wins of its own amid six top threes, and Jason Gibson's "Young Blood Jokers Wild" will also be in Urbana after its first season included four top fives. The Farley, Iowans will be represented as well with their "Simon Sez" and "Show No Mercy" entries, which landed fourth and fifth.
Bret Berg's "Money Maker" has earned at least 28 points every time out this year and owns three wins. That's been good for an eight-point lead over Jeff Rose and "Giddy Up" and an 18-point advantage over the Jostock-Douglas "Wild Child" and "Spook Gone Wild" entries. Those four will transfer to the Enderle for sure, and Dennis Christensen's "Pack Rat 4" will join them by merely hooking twice on Tractor Day in Illinois.
1997 and 2003 GN Modified champion Joe Eder clinched his first Unlimited title with a win in Lorain County aboard "Polar Air." Eder finished his sterling season by visiting the winners circle for the seventh time in 13 competitive appearances and using his four-engine bulldozer to pile up a 21-point margin over season and event runner-up Wayne Purser and "Uncle Sam." Four-time champ Chuck Knapp and "Screamin' D" (-25) took a mid-pack fifth on the final night of the regular season but will have the most Urbana experience and victories among the division's Enderle qualifiers. Ricky Rose's "Giddy Up" (-92) will do double duty on the twin tracks after qualifying fourth, and Kevin Criswell's "Blown Centless" (-131) overtook Adam Bauer's absent "Cross Threaded" for the fifth transfer spot.
About National Tractor Pullers Association
The NTPA is the sport’s oldest and most respected truck and tractor pulling sanctioning organization. Governed by a board of directors, the NTPA is managed by World Pulling International (WPI), an independently owned entity. Headquartered in Worthington, Ohio, the NTPA provides rules and regulations and the infrastructures required for organizations throughout the country to arrange truck and tractor pulls. The 2018 NTPA Championship Pulling Circuit was sponsored in part by Case IH, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Alliance Tire, Enderle Fuel Injection, MAC Trailer, Ag Protect 1, Shell Rotella, STOP-FYRE®, Cen-Pe-Co Lubricants, Columbus Diesel Supply, Heritage Iron, Stainless Diesel, Midwest Wheel Inc., the National Tractor Pulling Championships in Bowling Green, Ohio, PowerBore Cylinder Sleeves, Profab Machine Inc., the Budweiser Dairyland Super Nationals in Tomah, Wisconsin, and Riverside Engine Inc.
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