Worthington, Ohio---The diesels came up clutch in Hutch.
The 2019 Shell Rotella Cup Series reached its third of seven summer destinations as the Power Pull Nationals in Hutchinson, Minnesota featured six Grand National divisions over each of its two nights: Friday and Saturday, June 28 and 29. Three of those divisions---Super Stock Diesel Tractors, Super Stock Diesel 4x4 Trucks, and Super Semis---each hit their second stops on the way to the finale in Bowling Green, Ohio in August.
In NTPA Championship Pulling, vehicles drag a 20-ton weight transfer sled along a straight, dirt track as the sled's resistance increases. Within a class of similar vehicles, the puller who achieves the greatest distance is victorious. At events across the United States, elite competitors campaign their specialized machines---which resemble farm tractors, trucks, and dragsters---for chances at purse money and precious points toward end-of-season championships.
In 2019, the Association is proud to complete its first half century as the world's original and number-one sanctioning organization for premier-level truck and tractor pulling contests. Fierce, fair pulling competition and a family-friendly, patriotic atmosphere are hallmarks of NTPA Championship Pulling. If you haven't experienced the rumbles, roars, and rivalries of the heaviest sport on wheels, why not give it a try this summer?
For the Super Stock Diesels, attrition due to breakage has already taken a measurable toll. While two-time champion Colin Ross was sweeping the Budweiser Dairyland Super Nationals the previous weekend, several other contenders suffered significant damage to winnow the field heading north to McLeod County. Ross and his "Triple Bypass" McCormick struck again on Friday night in Hutchinson as one of two pull-off qualifiers alongside Kent Payne's "Super Rooster" and took first-place laurels when Payne could not return for the second round. Ross also earned the maximum 30 Grand National and Cup points on Saturday night---as well as the weekend's Hardest-Working Puller total distance award---by virtue of a second-place finish.
That runner-up designation was dealt to Ross by Zach Degenhardt, who scored his first GN victory aboard his family's "Diggin' Hard," which competes for regional championships throughout the NTPA's Midwestern territories. The result of the proceedings in Wisconsin and Minnesota is a perfect 120-point tally for "Triple Bypass" in both the full GN and Shell Rotella circuits through four outings with Payne (-5) the nearest challenger, followed by 12-time champion Esdon Lehn's two entries ("Diggin' Fever," -12; "Red Line Fever," -33). Next NTPA stop for SSD: Rockwell, Iowa; next Cup stop: Chapel Hill, Tennessee
For the Super Semis, it's a similar story as the heavy haulers have been pushed hard through four competitive appearances, three of which have been settled by pull-offs. In Tomah, recall that it was Dean Holicky's "Mother Trucker" who topped Pat Eilen's "Just Passin' Thru in Class" in bonus rounds both nights to assume a two-point advantage in the standings. Eilen promptly turned the tables as the series shifted to Hutchinson by scoring a dominant 25' victory on Friday and backing it up with a 1' thriller on Saturday. "Thru" thus clinched the year's second HWP and pulled into a tie with "Trucker" atop both sets of SEMI standings. Though by no means settled with six appearances remaining, the four-time champion Holicky and the four-time runner-up Eilen (as it happens, each time to "Mother Trucker") have opened a 10.5-point gap on third-place Brian Elithorpe's "Nikki's Nightmare," which was injured on Friday night in Dairyland but rebounded to post three top-fives since. Yet to get in high gear this season are 2018 Hutch winner Ryan DeBroux's "Playin' with Fire" (fourth, scratched in Hutch) and Jack Kielmeyer's "Jacked Up" (seventh, scratched). Next GN/Cup stop for SEMI: Rockwell.
But for the Super Stock Diesel 4x4s, it's been a freeway full of pickups, and they've been jockeying for position in every lane on the interstate with four different winners to this point. Don Bowling's "Pulling for the Cure" and Shane Kellogg's "Trump" split Tomah (Bowling took the HWP, Kellogg the weekend championship). In Hutchinson, Van Haisley's "Rock Hard Ram" spoiled Shane Wurm's bid for his first GN win with a last-hook pass Friday night.
But on Saturday, there would be no such disappointment for Brion Withrow. His "Nut Job" Chevrolet, hooking first, hung on through eight more trucks, including a hard-charging defending champion Carl Atley on the night's final run, to capture his first trophy on the sport's premier series. Wurm's "Boost" Dodge had the best overall weekend with two top-threes and claimed the HWP; Kellogg's "Trump" is having the best overall year so far and leads a traffic jam that includes Haisley's "Ram" and Wurm (both -7) and Atley's "Lethal Weapon" (-8). But there's no downtime for the coal rollers just yet, as their third straight GN and Shell Rotella weekend beckons in Iowa. Next GN/Cup stop for SSD 4x4: Rockwell.
Remaining events on the season-long Shell Rotella Cup Series tour include Rockwell, Iowa's North Iowa Nationals (July 4-6 for Super Farm, Super Stock Diesel 4x4, Super Semi, Modified, and Unlimited), Chapel Hill, Tennessee's Lions Super Pull of the South (July 19-20 for Super Stock Diesel, Pro Stock, Four Wheel Drive, Modified Mini, and Unlimited), Ionia, Michigan's Free Fair Pullsation (July 19-20 for Super Farm, Two Wheel Drive, and Light Unlimited), and Bowling Green, Ohio's National Tractor Pulling Championships (August 15-17 for all divisions).
Watch this space for more Shell Rotella Cup-Dates after each event, visit the Standings page at www.NTPAPULL.com for up-to-the-minute Cup standings, and check out The Puller, the NTPA's official publication, for comprehensive Grand National event coverage throughout 2019.
(Photos by Rick & Kim Moore/MoorePhotosMN.com)
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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