Road to the Enderle: Week 17 GN Traffic Report

Worthington, Ohio---Eight Grand National divisions were active throughout last week---Super Stock Open, Super Farm, Pro Stock, and Modified Mini (three hooks apiece), Four Wheel Drive and Unlimited (two hooks apiece), and Two Wheel Drive and Super Stock Diesel 4x4 (one hook apiece)---and the Opens crowned a champion Friday night. Four more divisions will determine their champs and Enderle qualifiers by week's end in a busy Week 17.

The owner/driver/tractor team of Mike Chizek, Brian Korth, and "Considered Armed & Dangerous" are your champions once more, but not before BG ring winner Jason Hootman and "The Commander" (-1) chipped away at their lead by a point per session at Bowling Green. In addition to winning their fourth straight title and seventh in the last eight years, Chizek and Korth also qualified team tractors "Excessive Force" (-5) and "Deadly Force" (-15.5) for the Enderle. Kyle Karlen's "Bad Blood" (-20) held onto the final transfer spot by seven-and-a-half points over Session Three winner Larry Phillips and "Extremely Insane."

For the division, the lead of Travis Schlabach's "Bone Twister" is down to one after an assault by Jody and Colin Ross' "Triple Bypass." In winning their second straight ring, the Rosses picked up five points on Schlabach and are now bound for a head-to-head two-hook battle in DeKalb County at the Sandwich Fair on Saturday, September 9. The Blagraves are keeping this a three-horse race ("Red Horse," -3), while Kent Payne's fourth on Saturday with "Super Rooster" (+12 over sixth) and Steve Burge's win on Friday ("Lock-N-Load," +10) earned them a little breathing room over John Raymond's "Smoke-n-Mirrors" (sixth).

What a heart-stopping way to win; what a gut-wrenching way to lose. John Strickland and "GALOT II" entered the Friday Night Spectacular down by a point after trading blows with Josh Blackbourn's "International Threat" (-1) at the Great Darke County Fair. To overcome the deficit, Strickland would either have to pass Blackbourn with a GN-licensed tractor in between or win the class outright. They and their two teammates qualified for the pull-off, and the teammates---Terry Blackbourn's "Extremely Armed & Dangerous" (-4) and Brent Payne's "GALOT" (-13)---pulled first and second. Up third, Blackbourn popped a charger just a few feet into his pull and made it to only 52'. Up fourth, Strickland got by Payne by less than 2' to clinch the championship. Notably, "GALOT II" and "International Threat" ended up one-two for the second straight year, and both they and "Extremely A&D" scored three wins apiece. Jordan Lustik and "Silver Bullet" (-52) finished fifth.

Solid finishes in Hudsonville and Wellington (fifth, second, and eighth) extended the lead of Brad Hart's "Dont' Ask" to six over Rod Deck's "Dream On" and to 10 over the Ferris' "Absolutely Nuts." But two Saturday hooks at Sandwich, a brand new Super Farm venue, loom large. Dave Whelan's "My Last Excuse" (+10 over sixth) and Bryan Deck's "One Bad Apple" (+6) are currently on the Enderle list; hoping to unseat them with a productive trek to Illinois are Tony Sietsema's "Wolverine Deere (sixth) and Ferris team tractor "Assorted Nuts" (-10 from fifth).

The site of his first Grand National win in 2016 was again kind to Charles Pelletier, as his victory Tuesday night with "CP Dream II" gained him 10 points in the standings on Mike Conny's "MAC Nasty" (-14). Conny swung back with a huge win the next night---his sixth of the year---but only made up one point due to "II"'s second place. Though they have eight wins and eight runner-up finishes between them, it marked the first time they finished one-two since Hutchinson in June. Mark Lawyer's "Rapped Up!" (-22, +22 over sixth) and Robby Lemke's "New Generation Plus" (-23, +21) had a nice points week (82 and 78, respectively, of a possible 90) to solidify their Enderle status, while Danny Schmucker and "Rampage" (+10 over sixth) will now be working to fend off dad Kevin ("Git-Er-Dun Deere," sixth) and Tim Cain's "Red Gambler" (-17 from fifth) starting at his hometown event in Canton..

A second place in Greenville put son Jessie Petro and "Buckeye Hauler" three more points ahead of dad Randy ("Kathy's Komplaint," -5) in Jessie's quest for a sixth consecutive Two Wheel Drive title. Of course you remember that the son's lead was nine entering Canfield last year, and all but one point was whittled away in that eventful evening. Canfield 2016 winner Craig Corzine's "Burn Notice" (-8) cooled off a little in Darke County but remains in the hunt, while Bryan McDonald's "Suffering Sanity" (-25, +14 over sixth) and Renee Theobald's "Pretty Wicked" (-31, +8) are striving to keep purple in the mix with Enderle red. Tied for sixth are the surging "Second Degree" of Ashley Corzine and Jessie's "P5"; LeAnn Tormoehlen-May's "Thriller" sits 13 back of fifth.

A legal hook in Fulton County will clinch Peyton Davis' first Four Wheel Drive title. His "Punisher" (+17) survived Jim Holman's victory in Hudsonville aboard "4 Play" by returning the next night with a runner-up finish and a 29-point dagger. Rob Foster's Wednesday win moved his "Simply Red" (-26, +4 over sixth) into third, while Donald LaBonte's "Rock" (+3) and Davis' "Young Gun" (+2) have a slippery grasp on the last two Enderle invitations. Ted Skelton's "Rock" (sixth), Lisa Peterson's "Profab" (-7 from fifth) and husband Larry's "Profab Geared Up" (-9) will try to wrest them away in Wauseon.

Josh Deeter's "Up in Smoke" has led this division since Friday night in Fort Recovery, but the top contenders in Bowling Green---Carl Atley's "Lethal Weapon" (-9) and Shane Kellogg's "Trump" (-17, +16 over sixth)---stayed hot Wednesday night in Greenville, finishing first and second in the pull-off. Only Atley can catch Deeter when they hook in Sandwich on Thursday night. The race for the first-ever GN Enderle berth, however, is another story, as Don Bowling's "Pulling for the Cure" (+11) sits fourth and Brion Withrow's "Nut Job" fifth, the latter having only a tiebreak advantage over Matt Clemons' "Alter Ego." One of Shawn Hodges' "On Borrowed Time" (-2 from fifth), Van Haisley's "Rock Hard Ram" (-3), Justin Gearhart's "Cream of the Crop" (-4), the Haisley/Bair "Off Constantly" (-7), and Chris Ryan's "Big Bad Dodge" (-9) could still make it in, too.

Having scored a perfect 120 points in its last four hooks---including a second, a win, and a ring in Bowling Green---Dan Prahl's "Full Tilt" broke the pinball machine and is your 2017 Grand National champion. Chasing valiantly to the end was three-time titlist Dean Holicky's "Mother Trucker" (-1), who entered and left Bowling Green a point down, albeit to different leaders. Lonny Sailor's "Holy Smokes" (fifth, -9) wafted into Wood County with the advantage; though he couldn't hold on, his first Enderle berth is a pretty nice consolation prize. Also reporting to Urbana on Saturday, September 16 will be Brian Elithorpe's "Nikki's Nightmare" (-2) and the Eilens' "Just Passin' Thru in Class" (-5). Just missing out is Sonny Graese's "Stacks" (-5 from fifth).

The hook in Wauseon is a formality, as the "Bobcat Jr." Team holds a 22.5-point advantage over Jason Hathaway's "Honkin' Donkey Gray." And with a legal hook apiece, the remainder of the top five will be set as well: Larry Koester's "Footloose" (third, -33), Adam Koester's "Beast of Burden" (fourth, -41), and Ken Veney's "Funny Lil' Farmall" (fifth, -43.5, +27.5 over sixth), though some jostling is still possible.

As anticipated, Brandon Simon and "Simon Sez" earned their third division title in four seasons and their second in a row. His third and first won him a ring; brother R.J.'s first and fifth locked up a runner-up finish for "Simon Sez Show No Mercy" (-11). Keith Wayson's "Super Bee" and Craig Corzine's "Money Pit Screwed Up" (both -17) finished tied in points, but Wayson got the nod for third thanks to his win in Sandusky. And for the final Enderle berth, Paul Koontz' "Joker" (-33, +11 over sixth) beat out Ted Boyer's "Twist & Shout," which had to scratch from Session Two.

Domination. It's the word that springs to mind to describe Ricky Rose's weekend in which he swept the Modifieds' two Bowling Green hooks by a total of 45 feet over twice-runner-up Doug Lively ("Bank Robber," -34, -6 from fifth). Rose and his "Giddy Up" have opened up a 15-point bulge on second-place Bret Berg's "Money Maker" with only two hooks left on Tractor Day in Sandwich. Completing his weekend with a third place on Saturday afternoon in Wood County, Dennis Christensen's "Pack Rat 4" (+14 over sixth) is now in that position in the standings. Teammates Bob Jostock ("Wild Child," +11) and Bill Douglas Jr. ("Spook Gone Wild," +6) are now tasked with keeping Lively in check to make the Enderle.

Hooks in western and northern Ohio resulted in a pair of second places for point leader Chuck Knapp and his "Screamin' D" (+29), making the Canfield track his near-certain victory lap for a third straight season. Kevin Criswell's "Blown Centless" and Brad Benedict's "Non-Cents All Screwed Up" (-42) are pretty well locked into second and third, while Wayne Purser's "Uncle Sam" (-53, +10 over sixth) and Wellington winner Rose (+6) will battle under the rooster's watchful eye both for fourth and to keep David Richardson's "For Sale" (sixth) at bay.

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