Unlike the NTPA's 11 other Grand National divisions, the Super Farms and Modifieds had each only hooked twice in competition for the Shell Rotella Cup Series Presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts. The Super Farms' season got going at GALOT Motorsports Park in Benson, North Carolina on June's first weekend, but they've been at rest for over a month since. Meanwhile, the Modifieds had to wait until Tomah, Wisconsin's Budweiser Dairyland Super Nationals for their first Cup appearance.
But the North Iowa Nationals at Rockwell, Iowa's Chamber Acres brought both back in line with their fellow premier-level pullers over the course of three nights: Thursday through Saturday, July 5-7. The Rockwell Lions Club's flagship event, to be broadcast this fall as part of "NTPA Championship Pulling" on RFD-TV, joined the Shell Rotella Cup tour for the first time in 2018.
Hoping to continue his hot streak as a newly minted GN competitor was Stan Warda of Berrien Springs, Michigan, who hauled his "Hammerin' Hank" Super Farm to the Mule City 300 and promptly swept the weekend. Warda made his first foray into the Hawkeye State six points up on GN veterans Chris Weidinger (Black Power) and Brook Ferris (Assorted Nuts).
Pulling 12th on Friday night in a 19-tractor class that was amplified by the tough competitors of the NTPA's Region V, Warda took a brief lead at 357.5'---surpassing Brook Ferris Jr.'s 357.2' with "Absolutely Nuts"---before 2017 runner-up Brad Hart and "Don't Ask" topped him by about 8" (358.3') and held on for the victory. "Hank" had suffered his first strikeout of the season but had maintained his standings lead and positioned himself well for the O'Reilly Hardest-Working Puller total-distance award.
The Super Farms' encore appearance on Saturday night at the North Iowa Nationals was more like a class and a half. The twin tracks at Chamber Acres run parallel to U.S. Route 65, and the pulling-dedicated facility allots 370' of track length---the greatest distance on the GN circuit---before the red flag waves and a pull-off is necessitated. Still, beginning with competitor number seven, namely Jon Silsby and the "Crop Doctor" (FP/361.2'), 10 qualified for a second round including Warda, six of his GN cohorts, and Rod Deck, the division's champion in 2016 and 2017 who is running regionally this season. Deck's "Dream On" (FP/366.1') was the first to bump "Crop Doctor" out of the lead as each of the pull-off distances surpassed 349'.
But with three to go, "Hammerin' Hank" swung hard and connected for a victorious 367.8' that gave Warda an incredible 1,095.3' on the weekend, 11.5' better than Silsby in HWP calculations. It also stretched his lead to 15 points over "Black Power" (10th, fifth) and "Absolutely Nuts" (third, seventh) in both GN and Cup standings with home-state Ionia on the horizon.
Over in the Modifieds, Minnesotans Ricky Rose and Bret Berg had split Tomah's two hooks, but the "Bank Robber" of Iowan Doug Lively snuck off with the O'Reilly gift card with a pair of seconds. Now back in his home territory with sophomore chassis and motor programs that are getting dialed in, Lively was ready to make a spirited push for his first class win since Wapakoneta, Ohio last August. But the persistent rain that has drenched his own State Center fields throughout the early weeks of summer didn't spare Chamber Acres either. The track crew held off on preparing the pulling surface until Thursday afternoon to prevent losing it to a last-minute shower. And when they did start peeling, the deeper they dug, the more moisture they found. The result was a slick course narrowed by mounds of mud that resembled bumper bowling and advantaged the early hooks.
Corey Kielmeyer and "Double Trouble" (302.3') and Dennis Christensen and "Pack Rat 4" (271.7'), Region III rivals in both Modified and Two Wheel Drive, were the greatest beneficiaries, as Kielmeyer posted his first GN win and Christensen his second second-place finish of the year (Ellsworth). Dennis' son Doug, a hired gun aboard Jay Fechtner's "Wasted Nites" (260.5'), took third and relegated the division's top contenders Lively, Rose, and Berg to fourth, fifth, and seventh, respectively.
With---finally---no anticipation of precipitation, the heavy machinery got put to work all day Friday to prepare the track for Session Two. The Mods were again first on the evening's agenda, as four of the eight were expected to also compete in the Unlimited class later that night. Finishing top-two (before adding an engine apiece) were Berg (350.6') and Rose (339.9'), both passing by Lively's 332.1' (third), reducing his lead over them to three and two points, and "Double Trouble"'s 309.5' (seventh). But Kielmeyer Construction had built itself a total-distance lead that would survive this reversal of fortune, and by 28' Corey would claim the weekend's Hardest-Working Puller Award.
Super Farms are next in NTPA and Shell Rotella Cup competition at the Ionia Free Fair Pullsation in Ionia, Michigan on Friday (7 p.m.) and Saturday (6 p.m.), July 13 and 14, while the Modifieds travel to New Hampton, Iowa's Kenwood Avenue Nationals at 7 p.m. on both of those nights. The Mods have only one Cup appearance remaining, and it's at the tour finale: the National Tractor Pulling Championships in Bowling Green, Ohio on August 16-18.
Other Grand National divisions are next scheduled as follows:
- Light Super Stocks: Brandenburg, Kentucky (NTPA/Cup)
- Super Stock Diesels: Chapel Hill, Tennessee (NTPA/Cup)
- Super Stock Open: Monroe, Michigan (NTPA), Bowling Green, Ohio (Cup)
- Pro Stock: Chapel Hill, Tennessee (NTPA/Cup)
- Two Wheel Drive: Ionia, Michigan (NTPA/Cup)
- Four Wheel Drive: Chapel Hill, Tennessee (NTPA/Cup)
- Super Stock Diesel 4x4: Fort Recovery, Ohio (NTPA/Cup)
- Super Semi: Ionia, Michigan (NTPA/Cup)
- Modified Mini: Chapel Hill, Tennessee (NTPA/Cup)
- Light Unlimited: Fort Recovery, Ohio (NTPA/Cup)
- Unlimited: Chapel Hill, Tennessee (NTPA/Cup)
Check out the NTPA's complete national schedule at www.NTPAPULL.com.
(Photos by Moore Photos)
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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