John Strickland (Clinton, North Carolina)
2017 NTPA Grand National Super Stock Open Champion
Worthington, Ohio---In 2016, a sweep of the three Ohio weeknight classes by the Wells-Payne-Strickland team steadily widened the winning margin for John Strickland's "Get a Load of That II." In 2017, that margin refused to budge beyond a single marker. Down a point entering Wellington, Ohio's Friday Night Spectacular after a seesaw battle with Josh Blackbourn's "International Threat" (-1) in Greenville, the drama was intensified when those two contending tractors---along with their respective teammates "GALOT" (-13) and "Extremely Armed & Dangerous" (-4) ---qualified for a pull-off. Terry Blackbourn set the pace and ultimately won the class with a 336.5'. Brent Payne arrived second and pulled 308.5'. And when "Threat" suffered turbocharger problems at the line, it still wasn't over, as Strickland would have to get past Payne to go ahead by one. He went ahead by one, all right: 1.88' (310.4') to claim a second consecutive open-fuel Super Stock title. Jordan Lustik's "Silver Bullet" (-52), absent from Lorain County, still earned a ticket to Champaign County.
Chizek/Korth Earn Fourth Straight GN LSS Title
Mike Chizek (Newton, WI) and Brian Korth (Beaver Dam, WI)
"Considered Armed & Dangerous"
2017 NTPA Grand National Light Super Stock Champion
Worthington, Ohio---If the tougher the battle, the sweeter the fruits of victory, then the Armed & Dangerous Team's latest Light Super Stock Championship is a candy-coated clementine. The Mike Chizek-owned, Brian Korth-driven "Considered Armed & Dangerous" assumed a three-point lead for the first time this season in Langford, then held off Jason Hootman's "Commander" (-1) for two hooks in Bowling Green, conceding one point per session. Hootman's possession of the point lead through four appearances marked the first time since 2013 that a non-A&D tractor topped the standings for more than one hook in a season; Kyle Karlen's "Bad Blood" (fifth, -20) led after Brandenburg in 2016. The Korth/Chizek squad also put its two other tractors in the top five (and thus, the Enderle Pull-Off): "Excessive Force" (-5) finished third and "Deadly Force" (-) fourth.
Full Tilt Boogie: Dan Prahl Wins First GN SEMI Title
Dan Prahl (Sunburg, Minnesota)
"Dan's Diesel Full Tilt"
2017 NTPA Grand National Super Semi Champion
Worthington, Ohio---It's fair to say that Dan Prahl's "Full Tilt" came through in the clutch. It's fairer to say that his clutch came through for him---barely. Fighting driveline issues all weekend at Tomah, the second event of the season, Prahl on two occasions needed two attempts and some hot-pit wrenching to make competitive passes. Had either one of those resulted in a hook-and-broke, he would not have been able to establish his eventual margin of victory: one point over reigning champion Dean Holicky and "Mother Trucker." At season's end, Prahl streaked to his first division title with four straight 30-point performances (three wins and one second) in Rockwell, Morley, and Bowling Green, in the process passing by Brian Elithorpe's "Nikki's Nightmare" (third, -2), the Eilens' "Just Passin' Thru in Class" (-5), and Lonny Sailor's "Holy Smokes" (-9) in the standings.
Go for Three---Wait, Did You Say "Simon Sez"?
Brandon Simon (Farley, Iowa)
2017 NTPA Grand National Light Unlimited Champion
Worthington, Ohio---Leading wire-to-wire across nine scheduled hooks, Brandon Simon and "Simon Sez" captured their third Grand National championship in four seasons. Following a season-opening rainout in Tomah, Simon scored four wins (Tomah Session Two, Ionia Session One, Fort Recovery Session One, and Bowling Green Session Two), three seconds, and one third en route to an 11-point margin of victory over team tractor "Simon Sez Show No Mercy," driving duties for which were split between Brandon and his brother R.J. Overall, the Simon Sez Team earned seven of eight possible wins. Finishing 17 points back were both Keith Wayson's "Super Bee," the 2015 GN champ, and Craig Corzine's "Money Pit Screwed Up," a new and highly successful entry to the field this season; on the strength of his victory in Sandusky, Wayson claimed third. Paul Koontz' "Joker" (-33) rounded out the top five and claimed the final Enderle Pull-Off berth.