Doug Theobald (Shelbyville, Indiana)
2019 NTPA Grand National Light Unlimited Champion
It was right the first night. When Doug Theobald fired the brand new "Full-Blown Wicked" in Benson for its inaugural pass in Grand National competition, he knew had a championship-caliber machine. He demonstrated as much by defeating veteran R.J. Simon and "Simon Sez Show No Mercy" (fifth, -56) in a pull-off there and by pushing 2015 champion Keith Wayson's "Super Bee" (-3) to a second round weeks later in Tomah. Though "Wicked" ceded the lead to "Bee" on two brief occasions, Theobald held the top spot after six of the season's nine hooks and was never down by more than a couple points. The first-ever Bowling Green victory for Shelbyville's famed pulling family effectively clinched the title on Thursday night, but Wayson came back on Friday to earn top honors in the Shell Rotella Cup miniseries. Doug's fellow freshman Jason Gibson's "Young Blood Jokers Wild" (-27) ended the season with fourths in two Illinois outings among four top fives overall, while three-time titlist Brandon Simon's "Simon Sez" (-43) had a win on Hagerstown's tough track.