Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mod Reflection

This reflection will be dedicated to the powerhouse Modified Tractors and the brain children behind these awesome machines.  Regardless of sanctioning body, affiliation with the sport or the level of experience one has in pulling, one commonality is true and that is the multi engine tractors are unreal!  As a child, I remember watching the likes of Tim Engler, Paul Norman, John Hileman, Fast Fred Freeman and the legendary Art Arfons compete against one another for bragging rights and a sizeable cash prize. 
Today this class truly seems to be one of the more popular classes in terms of growth with both the NTPA and Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League showcasing large volumes of competitors registered to compete for the annual points championship.

E-3 Sparkplug Modified's

We will kick things off in New London, North Carolina where the 2011 Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Champion resides and has been finely tuned for a title defense.  I won’t call 2011 a rookie season for Stan as he had a few years worth of experience in the class first with a three engine mod and then secondly with a four engine setup on his old chassis.  Stan learned a lot in the first few years of his participation in the class and relayed all of that to his new Engler Chassis that he used to win the title.  It is a certainty that Stan won’t be able to play the new guy card in 2012 as his Hemi powered Shel-Shocked is wearing a huge target on its chassis!

Aiming to hit the bull’s eye is none other than the 2009 and 2010 Champion Tour Champ, Bill Leischner of Weldon, Illinois.  Leischner welcomes support from Speedco Truck Lube and Tire and Firestone for the 2012 campaign and will lean on his four Sassy Hemi combination in pursuit of reclaiming his title.   Leischner worked hard in 2011 to upgrade his motor configuration and with a full season under his belt it is a certainty he will be tough as nails in the points chase.
In February, Joe Eder found  the winning combination on Saturday of the Farm Machinery Show to claim the Finals title.  Eder, who debuted his 75th edition last season, is a big threat for the title that Shelton and Leischner will both be looking for.  Traveling all the way from New York to reach the Champions Tour schedule may be a real daunting task for Eder, but if he can make it to the hooks, I see him in the hunt come Wheatland.

In Southern Illinois the Bunnage Brother’s reside and carry high hopes as they enter the 2012 season.  A disappointing start to 2011 that saw them miss the first event of the season in Saluda, South Carolina due to horrific flooding on their family farm has provided them with additional incentive to recover their form from 2010.  This may be the year that the boys from Golden Gate don’t settle for event wins but a title crown and painted helmet on the stage in Indianapolis.

One of the more overlooked competitors on the Champion’s Tour is Indiana’s own Scott Tedder and his Mr. Twister.  Tedder is always in the mix of the point’s race and I see 2012 being no different if he commits to the full schedule.  Tedder is listed on both the Pro Pulling League Champions Tour list as well as the NTPA Grand National Pre-Committ for the Modified and newly introduced Light Unlimited.  Regardless of where he goes, Tedder will make his presence known!

I additionally have my eye on Keith and Ricky Long of Glasgow, Kentucky.  The Long brothers have taken the step up to the Modified class after having spent decades behind the wheel of a Two Wheeler.  The Longs will keep their focus on the Two Wheel Drive class as well but have the new introduction of their modified that will occupy a large chunk of their time.  Only time will tell if these guys can run with the big threats for the title in 2012 but I firmly believe it is only a matter of time.

After a lot of reflection I have to say that this E-3 Sparkplug class may very well be the toughest on the circuit with Lucas.  I know my original reflection pointed directly at the Pro Stocks, but as I write this I am blown away with the depth of this class.

NTPA Grand National Mod
On the Grand National side of the docket the 2011 Champion is back on the list for a championship defense in 2012 and I believe he carries the title of the favorite heading into the season.  Bret Berg of Minnesota has been very successful with his Money Maker and if the National Farm Machinery Show Preliminary was any indication, it appears that all systems are a go!   Berg used a brilliant cross tracking approach to claim the win on Wednesday Night.

In Lapeer, Michigan there are two tough running tractors from the Jostock pulling stables. Bob  has been a staple with his Wild Child  for many years and should not be overlooked as a contender for the championship. The 2007 NTPA Modified Champion claimed a couple of wins on  the Grand National circuit last season and will only need a few more this year to assure the title goes home with him.  If it isn’t going home in the hands of Bob, it is certain he hopes his brother Terry and Jim Martell may fight to claim a title with the other team tractor.  Had it not been for breakage after his first pass, the Jostocks might be riding into the season with the title of the NFMS Champion but Terry and the Wild Won were unable to come back in a pull-off against Joe Eder and thus they finished second on Saturday night.

New to last year’s points race was Doug Lively and his hemi powered Bank Robber.  Lively from Iowa made a big splash in 2011 when he took top honors at the Wisconsin Dairyland Nationals in Tomah.  Later in the season he found himself winning again at the Fort in Ohio.  Lively is a veteran puller and after his first real experience with this tractor on the NTPA Grand National circuit it is clear he is a name to be considered for top billing.

Stonington, Illinois has not only become home to the Bollingers, but also to the Allison power plants they rely so heavily on.  Their two tractor team of the Money Pit  and Top Gun  are season favorites year in and year out and deserve to be considered in the discussion for the season ending awards.

I don't know who will win the championships with either pulling organization but fans of the Modified Tractor division should be stoked for cage match battle royal to the finish! 

Modified Power Rankings
The rankings for the Modified class were solely based on the two days worth of competition in Louisville. I have tried to follow the same points guideline for every class that I pre-ranked and with only one event to rank, there isn't much change.  The next Modified Power Ranking will reflect several events on the Champions Tour as well as the Grand National opener for the mods.  

1) Joe Eder 75th Edition
2) Bret Berg Money Maker 
3) Terry Jostock Wild Won
4) Bill Leischner Speedco Dirtslinger
5) Bob Jostock Wild Child
6) Wayne Purser Uncle Sam
7) Stan Shelton Shel-Shocked
8)The Bunnages Takes a Lickin
9) The Stewarts Down and Dirty
10) Scott Tedder Mr. Twister

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