At the 2011 NFMS, I had the great honor of meeting Jeff Gueningsman. Jeff had made a name for himself on the Grand National circuit in 2010 and qualified for Saturday Night's Finals. In speaking with Jeff it was evident just how much he loved the sport of pulling and the people he competed against. Sadly, in the early portion of the pulling season Jeff was diagnosed with cancer and was taken from the ranks of pulling way to quickly. I am not certain if Jeff's wife and family have submitted an application for the 2012 NFMS but if they have, the tractor should be in as a Finalist from 2011. I chose to not have the Aftermath tractor on my list as I am was truly not certain if they applied.
The major question for me in doing this is will Kathy Archer Schalitz and Brian Shramek apply, these two Unlimited competitors along with Bill Voreis staged the most exciting points battle of the 2011 NTPA pulling season with all three of them having a shot to win at the final hook of the season. If they did apply, I am certain they will be accepted in the show. I based my choices off of the past and truly not remembering the Archer's coming to Louisville, thus I left Kathy as a did not apply. Shramek campaigns the DSS and PS so I banked on him applying as he will already be there with his other tractors.
In 2011 five new tractors were debuted on the Pro Pulling League Champions Tour. All five tractors took their turn on the top of the pulling order with each collecting a win. One of the five was the turbine of the Barga Family, these guys have been working their rears off to prove that a turbine combination can cut with the reciprocating engines and this summer a big step was taken by The Apache and Shannon Leischner's Dirt Challenger. The other four all boasting hemis were run by Scott Tedder, pulling legends Joe Eder and Ken Veney, and Pro Pulling League Champion Stan Shelton. The idea that brand new configurations and chassis' can come out to the national circuit and immediately win baffled me but I can tell you I loved every minute of pulling I was able to take in with these competitors.
Adding to my joy was a rookie I watched at Tomah, Wisconsin in the form of the Bank Robber Doug Lively. Doug truly captured my attention in the afternoon session on Friday afternoon when he made not one but two fantastic passes to capture the win! Doug not only sent a signal that afternoon but punctuated over the course of the weekend.
There are so many what if's or did they apply questions within this class that I am truly uncertain about a good portion of the field. I learned last year that a finalist isnt guaranteed to be back the next year when Shawn Swearingen did not get accepted after taking a season off. In 2011, Wayne Purser did not make his typical trip to the Super National events on the NTPA schedule. With that I am kind of puzzled as to if he gets in again to create the potential dual between Uncle Sam and American Thunder or if he is left out! I chose to reward other competitors that were out in 2011 and left my first finalist off my predictions.
Criteria One2011 Finalist
1 Steve Bunnage Takes a Lickin
2 Bill Leischner Dirtslinger
3 Bob Jostock Wild Child
Jeff Gueningsman Aftermath (If the Gueningsman Family and Friends applied, I believe the tractor is accepted)
4 Adam Bauer Cross Threaded
-Wayne Purser Uncle Sam Did not compete enough
Criteria TwoNTPA Top Five
5 Bret Berg MoneyMaker
Bob Jostock Already In
6 Terry Jostock Wild Won
7 Doug Lively Bank Robber
8 The Bollinger's Top Gun
Criteria TwoPro Pulling Top Five
9 Stan Shelton Shel-Shocked
Bill Leischner Already In
10 Scott Tedder Twist of Fate
11 Michael Stewart Down and Dirty
Darrick Barga The Apache- Turbine powered tractor which traditionally has not been accepted.
Criteria ThreeAt Large
12 Bill Voreis American Thunder (Though the tractor is up for sale, I am hopeful he will be in the field for the NFMS)
13 Joe Eder 75TH Edition
14 Ken Veney Funny Farmall
15 Brian Shramek Youngblood Unleashed (Take two Chevy's off and bring the second trailer with you as I feel all three are in)