The Power Pull Nationals welcomed six NTPA Grand National divisions to the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, Minnesota for two nights of action on Friday and Saturday, June 15 and 16. One of those divisions, the Super Semis, were designated as Shell Rotella Cup participants under the program's new, expanded format. As such, up to 60 precious Cup points were there to be claimed by the heavy haulers---not to mention the weekend's O'Reilly Auto Parts Hardest-Working Puller Award for the greatest total distance pulled.
In truck and tractor 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 that achieves the greatest distance is victorious. The NTPA is the world's number-one sanctioning organization for premier-level events that feature highly specialized machines resembling farm tractors, trucks, and dragsters and dedicated competitors that battle for purse money and end-of-season championships. No other motorsport offers the diversity of vehicle types, variety of engine combinations, intensity of brand rivalries, and accessibility of competitors. If you're looking for fierce, fair competition in a family-friendly, patriotic atmosphere, give truck and tractor pulling a try in 2018.
Up first in Friday night's Semi class was Kurt Heyroth (Bangor, Wisconsin) and his "Tow Mater." A replica of Disney's Cars movie series character voiced by comedian Larry the Cable Guy, Heyroth's Peterbilt got 'er done with a full pull. Concerned about too many vehicles having to make a second trip down the Hutchinson track, officials decided to reset the weight transfer. And doubly unfortunately, "Tow Mater" could not return for a sequel. But the cartoon-come-to-life established itself as a serious player in the Grand National conversation.
A more conventional favorite for both the Shell Rotella Cup and the season title was Dean Holicky (Montgomery, Minnesota), whose "Mother Trucker" Pete scored championships from 2014 through 2016 before yielding right-of-way to Dan Prahl's "Full Tilt" (Sunburg, Minnesota). Holicky pulled out to 334' for his first hook of 2018. Three draws later, Ryan DeBroux (New Franken, Wisconsin) and "Playin' with Fire," now in their sophomore season on the GN tour, joined Holicky in the second round.
In between, Jack Kielmeyer (Faribault, Minnesota), returning from a season-plus absence from the driver's seat following his "Jacked Up"'s catastrophic engine failure in late 2016, made his bid but came up short. And appearing last in the primary round was Prahl, but the fire in his Kenworth would not stay lit, and he got to only 2.5' in two attempts.
In the pull-off, Holicky downshifted and kept the engine revs high in rolling to 295.3', while DeBroux took the the same line that got him there and captured his first national victory at 303.5', in so doing taking his first-ever GN and Cup points lead and establishing an 8.2' advantage for the O'Reilly Hardest-Working Puller.
Interviewed several minutes after the winning run, DeBroux was still nearly lost for words. "I don't know what to say. This is my first win with NTPA; it feels pretty good. We've worked pretty hard, had a lot of failures, and it's pretty awesome when things work right." On a warm evening and with two passes spaced not that far apart, could DeBroux feel a change in his rig from the first run to the second? "I could tell the difference, and I could also see more fire come out of the stack---it's a little bit bigger candle."
Saturday night, DeBroux and Holicky competed back-to-back, with "Playin' with Fire" stopping at 308.7' and "Mother Trucker" assuming the lead at 311.7'. But this night belonged to Prahl, who avenged his Session One struggles with Session Two's longest distance at 352.8' to post "Full Tilt"'s fourth win in six regular-season appearances dating to 2017.
The result: DeBroux and Holicky head to Tomah, Wisconsin's Budweiser Dairyland Super Nationals tied for the GN and Cup leads; Prahl sits three points back, Pat Eilen's "Just Passin' Thru in Class" (Hampton, Minnesota) is minus-four, and Kielmeyer is seven behind. And that first O'Reilly Auto Parts Hardest-Working Puller gift card? By a margin of 5.2', it belongs in DeBroux's shirt pocket.
Along with the Semis, seven of Benson, North Carolina's eight Cup classes now head to Tomah from Thursday through Saturday, June 21-23, for the next leg of their Cup tour and will be joined for the first time by Light Super Stocks, Pro Stocks, twin-engine Light Unlimiteds, and Multi-Engine Modifieds. Super Farms have their next chance at Cup points at Rockwell, Iowa's North Iowa Nationals July 5-7. The 10-event series concludes for everyone in the winners circle at the National Tractor Pulling Championships in Bowling Green, Ohio in August.
(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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