Feb 26 - Independents Day
It was a banner weekend for the privateers as Eric Swanson, Michael Vaters II, Zane Rettew, and Brandon Derrow posted wins against the Monster Jam team drivers. Even more noteworthy was Camden Murphy’s third consecutive stadium win that has him within arm’s reach of the #1 ranking.
Murphy On The Move
A few weeks ago, Tyler Menninga had an insurmountable lead, or so we thought. Tyler’s tour rivals have been making things harder on him these past weeks, and more importantly, Camden Murphy has been red hot in Bakugan Dragonoid. Murphy won his third consecutive (and 5th out of 7) Stadium Championships by knocking off Jimmy Creten in Bounty Hunter. Their final round bout was capped off with a wild double roll-over. Murphy has earned 2058 points in his last 7 events and—although he still sits in second place—has moved closer to Tyler Menninga who sits atop the ROC.
Menninga won the middle race in Wichita, Kansas, but was defeated twice by Austin Minton in Megalodon: first in the semi-finals on Saturday afternoon, and then in the first round on Sunday afternoon. It was only the 5th time this season that Menninga has not advanced out of the first round. Austin Minton won the first event with Colton Eichelberger taking home the last event.
Independents Gaining Ground
While there are many Monster Jam trucks near the top of the standings, some of the independent teams are begin to make their presence felt. That’s a trend expected to continue through the spring and summer as the Monster Jam series cools off and several other promoters warm up. Jimmy Creten’s runner-up finish in Atlanta has him sitting comfortably in 10th place. Mat Dishman has Rammunition in 15th and Paul Jensen is in 18th with the new Kamikaze truck. Dan Runte is currently 22nd but will eventually fall out of the rankings due to having too few events. However, Bigfoot teammates Rodney Tweedy (28th) and Larry Swim (40th) are beginning to rack up points. Wins from Michael Vaters II and Brandon Derrow have placed them in the Top 25.
Monster Jam Recap
Neil Elliot jumped up 5 spots into 11th with another Stadium win in Anaheim. The big story out west, however, was Eric Swanson racing his way past the stars of Monster Jam to win his first Stadium Championship title. He knocked off Dave Sparks, Neil Elliot, and Bryce Kenny before taking out the 3rd-ranked driver in the world Adam Anderson in the finals. The win earned Swanson 26 positions in the world rankings and he currently sits in 79th. Anderson rolled in the first turn of the quarter-finals on Sunday afternoon while racing JR McNeal in Xtermigator, which ended Anderson’s string of 7 consecutive final round appearances.
Another big mover was Michael Vaters II who won the opening round in Atlanta and now claims the 21st ranking in the world. His rise of 26 positions was tied for the most with Swanson. Vaters followed up his win with a solid semi-finals finish on Sunday where he lost to eventual race-winner Todd LeDuc in Monster Energy. This was LeDuc’s first win of the season and has moved him into the Top 20.
Allentown, Pennsylvania was treated to 5 full racing programs over the weekend and Armando Castro was the star. The El Toro Loco driver won 3 of 4 finals and rose to 12th in the world. Tristan England continued his strong run of performances with a win and 2 runner-ups, while Blake Granger took the afternoon win on Sunday.
Down in Biloxi, the independent teams on the Arena Championship tour were running strong against the Monster Jam teams. Zane Rettew and Brandon Derrow swapped wins at the afternoon events moving up 13 and 6 positions in the rankings, respectively. Derrow now has 3 wins on tour and sits in 24th. Darren Migues defeated Randy Brown in the evening competition.
The Monster Nation was rocking in Beaumont with an exciting two-jump drag track at Ford Arena. Larry Swim had Bigfoot in the finals at each event but only took the win on Saturday Night. Jerry Beck and Aaron Cain split the first two events, gaining 12 and 8 positions in the rankings, respectively. Larry Swim’s three finals gave him enough events to join the rankings. He comes in at 40th place overall but with the 9th-best points-per-race average at 193.40. Expect to see him rise up higher as he get more races under his belt.
Monster Truck Nationals
Another man joining the rankings this week is Doug Noelke who comes in at 42nd after a win in Du Quoin, Illinois. Mikeal Christensen won the first two events (his 3rd and 4th of the season) and jumped up 22 spots into 27th. Paul Jensen moved up to 17th with a trio of runner-up efforts. After losing to Christensen at the first two events, he led Doug Noelke into the final turn on Saturday night before clipping a dirt jump and rolling over.
Hot Action in the South
Michael Harper picked up a win in Del Rio over Alex Barbin in El Oso Loco. With only 4 races recorded, however, he is not yet eligible for the rankings.
At the No Limits tour in Philadelphia, Mississippi, Zach Adams survived a slew of breakage amongst his competitors to score two runner-up efforts. Ricky Fowler took the win in the afternoon driving Zilla, and Mark Andrews won the nightcap driving Wicked Sickness.
At the Kay Yeager Coliseum in Wichita Falls, Jeff Murphy earned a win in two finals. The trucks competed on a Chicago-style track that featured an old-school staging where the trucks began the race on top of a dirt hill. Justin Murphy won the first event in Prime Time for his 4th win of the season and currently outranks his brother Jeff by 1 spot (53rd to 54th).
In Waco, Texas, we are still hoping to get enough information to count the results. So far we know that Sean Duhon was running in top-notch condition during his first events of the year. He flew the Tantrum truck to several big victories over Bigfoot and Bearfoot.
In Corinth, the Hall Brothers picked up a pair of wins with Mark Hall and Kurt Kraehmer each taking home a trophy. We do not yet have enough information to count these events for points, however.
We have no report from the Hot Wheels tour in Albany. We have partial results from the No Limits tour in Gonzalez, Mississippi and are waiting on more information.
This upcoming weekend is a bit lighter but still full of great events. Monster Jam continues their full schedule of Stadium events with 3rd-ranked Adam Anderson leading the field into El Paso; 2nd-ranked Camden Murphy looking to extend his winning streak in Saint Louis; and too many story-lines to follow all coming together in Jacksonville.
The Arena series shifts from Biloxi way out to Tucson, Arizona where independent Mark Schroeder in Devastator is scheduled to sub in for series-regular Brandon Derrow. The Triple Threat East series has a shorter commute from Allentown to Baltimore where Armando Castro will have a bulls-eye on his back after his three wins in the Keystone State. Triple Threat West with World #1 Tyler Menninga will be in Portland, Oregon and Triple Threat Central has a long weekend ahead of themselves in Rosemont. Six events at the AllState Arena with 1800 points available to win will offer Brandon Vinson, Coty Saucier, and Kayla Blood plenty of opportunities to move closer to the top rank.
The Traxxas Tour races into West Monroe, Louisiana where the Murphys and Comos will go head to head with Hall Brothers Racing; and also into Imperial, California as Jacob Ladwig will be racing to improve his 35th ranking with his 4th win of the season. Monster Truck Insanity is in Klamath Falls Oregon; Monster Wars are in Beeville, Texas; and the Monster FMX tour kicks off in Asheville, North Carolina.