Worthington, Ohio---Forgive Stan Warda if at some point he allowed himself the thought, "Hey, I got this."
The reserved resident of Berrien Springs, Michigan was taking his first foray into Grand National competition after two successful dips into the regional pool over 2016 and 2017. He would be putting to the test the oft-cited adage: If you can win in Region II, you can win anywhere.
It's oft-cited because it's true.
Warda well represented his home territory by sweeping that first GN event in Benson, North Carolina against a field of Super Farm competitors every one of whom had at least three years' experience on the premier-level circuit. He then went to Rockwell, Iowa and claimed another win and 59 points across two hooks. Home-state Ionia? Two thirds. And before anyone had a chance to notice "Hank," the silver-and-black International 3688 had built an 11-point lead that grew and shrank but remained identical at season's end over various close challengers.
The last of these was Dave Whelan's BG ring-winning "My Last Excuse," and another for much of the year was the Ferris family's "Absolutely Nuts" (-20). In Sandwich, Illinois, site of Warda's crowning, Tony Sietsema's "Wolverine Deere" (-28) and the Ferrises' "Assorted Nuts" (-29) clinched the last two berths in the all-star Enderle Pull-Off to be held on Saturday, September 15 in Urbana, Ohio.
Stan and his son Matt thus become the 11th first-time Super Farm champion driver or team since the division's admission to the GN level in 2003. Rod Deck's "Dream On," which pursued and won Region V's title this season, had won the previous two GN trophies. Before that, there had been no repeat champions since the Counce/Pettus Team's "Dixie Deere" in 2009 and 2010.
Under-the-radar is how the family likes it. That's most especially true of Matt's Grandpa Hank, after whom (not his baseball-great namesake, Mr. Aaron) the tractor is named in spite of his initial protest. Well, Hank, perhaps it's comforting to recall a famous quote from another homerun hitter. Said Babe Ruth, "It ain't braggin' if you can do it."