NTPA Grand National
As far as I am concerned with the NTPA Championship race, there is truly one question that needs to be answered. Can Jordan Lustik keep up his winning ways or will the team of Chizek/Blackbourn disrupt the Silver Bullet's run at the top? The 2011 introduction of the International Threat turned many heads on the Grand National circuit. With Terry and Josh Blackbourn driving, the combination may be just enough to take the top honors. The other tractor from the Chizek stables is, of course, Extremely Armed and Dangerous which has been a big contender on the circuit over the last few years. Jordan Lustik and the Silver Bullet team fought tooth and nail through pulloffs and the duration of the 2011 season to claim the title. I am very anxious to see how the ULSS class unfolds over the final few months of the season with the NTPA.
The GALOT team from North Carolina has continually gotten better with their Agco over the last couple years. Fans of the beautiful Orange tractor can take great pride in the fact that the Strickland/Wells team will be in the mix from the gun with the NTPA Grand National Circuit.
Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League
Two-time defending champion Jeff Hirt of Port Clinton, Ohio will be out in full force for 2012, with the Runin Bare and new tractor Fast Lane. When you add the addition of the new tractor and a brand new baby boy named Lane, the Hirts should be in for an action packed summer. If previous seasons hold true, Hirt will be around late in the season after taking some time to find his optimal setup.
My guess for the biggest contender for Hirt's title run is Neil Gettinger. Gettinger of Hagerstown, Indiana put together a fairytale winter at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky, where he swept both Thursday and Saturday Nights events. The combination truly worked wonders indoors, and I expect Neil and the Lessons Learned to be near the top from the onset of the season.
The 2011 season saw the XXX Case MX of Frank Keener coming oh so close to wrapping up the title. As Hirt hit his stride late in the season, Keener watched his lead fade away in the championship points. Keener wants nothing more than to find the winning formula to bring his first Champions Tour title back home to Ohio. There is no question that this team has the ability to win the title with the Pro Pulling League, and it very might happen come this fall.
Other contenders could be the Hull/Kwiatkowski Team of Wisconsin and Michigan. The Taking Care of Business John Deere has been around forever it seems in the ULSS class. The amount of time that TCOB has been the class only illustrates the durability of the tractor and the knowledge of the team.
1) Neil Gettinger
2) Jordan Lustik
3) Josh Blackbourn
4) John Strickland
5) Jeff Hirt
6) Jason Evans
7) Joe Kwiatkowski
8) Sid Broughton
9) Frank Keener
10) Terry Blackbourn