Monday, April 16, 2012

Reflections on the Pre Commit Lists Pro Stock's

The NTPA and Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League have released their coveted lists of Pre-Commit competitors for the upcoming season of competition.  After a close look at both of them, I wanted to put a list of what jumped out at me together for the blog!  That initial reflection as lead to a series of posts that will go up highlighting the classes!

Let me first state that these two lists are a bit different, the NTPA posts their list of the 10 competitors that will be a part of their program, but other competitors may have purchased a Grand National license with intent to compete for points.  On the Pro Pulling League list, they limit their Champions Club which is for a set number of competitors, but they list all of the folks who registered for a Champions Tour membership.  With NTPA they pay 10 pullers show up money, while the Pro Pulling League pays sixteen competitors in the majority of their classes.  The show up money is an incentive that has really helped both organizations to retain members while increasing their following as the spots that receive the check for fuel are highly coveted.

For this blog, I will reflect on the Pro Stock Tractor Class!  

Luca's Oil Pro Pulling League
Premier Crop Insurance Class
At first glance, the P.P.L. Premier Crop Insurance Pro Stock class truly caught my eye as one of the toughest I have ever seen.  Let's start with last year's champion Stuart Maize and the "Billet Binder".  Maize's consistency was a big key to his winning the points last year over the Linder Brothers.  A big change for 2011 was the partnership between Maize and D&R Pulling.  D&R has added another tractor to the list in the form of Dennis Schnitker and the "Bite N Binder" Case MX series tractor.  That will put Maize, Dennis, Dennis' nephew Rodney's "Melt Down"  and Dennis Schaubert's "The Hunted" all together to collaborate and relay information toward helping the team fight to win!  There is safety in numbers and this group will have four attempts at claiming a title.

If last year proved anything in this category, it was that anybody could take the win on any given night on the Champions Tour in the Pro Stock class.  I see this year being no different as the list just continues to grow with heavy hitters.  I am excited to see the addition of Steve Boyd back on the list and look forward to seeing if he can find the winning formula he had in 2010.  We will see if having the additional tractors was the key ingredient to the winning puzzle. 

The "Youngbuck" team is back in full force for the 2012 campaign after missing a portion of the circuit in 2011.  After a runner-up finish in 2010, is this the year that the men from Schochoh, Kentucky take the title back to the farm?  When looking at my list of potential favorites for the title, I view the "Youngbuck" as one of the biggest threats to the title defense of Stuart Maize.  Another big threat will come from last year's runner-up the "Linder Brothers" of Edison, Ohio.  If the NFMS was any indication for the future, the Linders are poised to make a run at grabbing their first Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Championship.

Additionally, I am very excited to see Warren, Illinois', Gary Brinkmeier and the "Fuelish Pleasure" Case International on the Champions Tour list.  If Gary and his family run the full points circuit, it will add another big threat for the red fans! 

NTPA Grand National Pro Stock
Last year the Schmuckers claimed the NTPA Grand National Title with their "Rampage" John Deere from Louisville, Ohio.  The win was not necessarily a big surprise as the Father/Son Team had been very tough on the state circuit and at the selected Grand National events they ran.  In 2012, the Schmuckers add to their team with the "Git Er Dun Deere".  This addition will only make these guys from Ohio a big threat for a title defense!

On the list of potential champions is the fan favorite Massey Ferguson, the "Warpath" of Carlton Cope.  Over the last few years there might not be a competitor that has gained more ground on the National circuit than Carlton Cope.

The Cains of New Palestine, Indiana, will bring their two tractor team into the title race after a busy off season, which saw them build a new "Ace's Wild" for Chris to drive. Tim Cain "Red Gambler", the 2009 NTPA Grand National Champion and his son Chris will look to bring the title back to the Hoosier state and the International fans.

Additionally carrying the red banner on the NTPA Grand National circuit will be the welcome back tour for pulling legend Rob Russell and his "Work Horse" out of the state of Iowa.  Russell came out for the 2011 season and did a great job of dialing in the new tractor.  If history has any indication on the present, this former Super Stock power may be a big threat for the title.  

Photo Credit:  Jake Morgan
I am excited to introduce a new feature that I hope to update throughout the pulling season of 2012 in the form of Power Rankings.  On a weekly basis during the college sports season there are weekly poll's published which rank the top teams within the respective sport!  This idea was something that I had pondered, but it wasn't until a discussion with Jesse Post of JP Pulling Productions that I decided to try and do a poll.   Within the NCAA there are many polls that fans can look for their favorite team such as the ESPN, the Coaches poll, USA Today and the AP to name a few.  These rankings are purely for fun, but I feel it may add another unique element to the sport.

Below you will find the first Power Ranking for the Pro Stock Tractor Class.  The rankings for the first poll were based upon the indoor pulling season results and the final standings from the 2011 pulling season! 

Power Rankings
1) Mike Linder- Linder Brother's John Deere

2) Ken Couch- Cotton Pickn Deere John Deere
3) The Schmuckers- Rampage John Deere 
4) Moss and Stratton- Youngbuck John Deere
5) Carlton Cope- Warpath Massey Ferguson
6) David Justison- John  Deere 6030
7) Ross Boersen- Greenline Express John Deere
8) Jeff Sapp- Big Country John Deere
9) Blaine Stamm- Stammpede International
10) Bryce and Calvin Vangenderen- John Deere

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