|Piloting the Rock Bug, Tracy Jordan proved that the Spidertrax-built car was very capable. The two-seat, front-engine bug was able to beat the sport's best Unlimited cars and drivers.|
Once again, W.E. Rock’s season came down to the best of the Eastern Championship Series to challenge the best of the Western Championship Series in an event dubbed the Grand Nationals. Although the showing from the East was
|Roger Lovell spots brother Brad up a sketchy vertical bonus climb on day one. This calculated risk was one that helped the brothers on their way to the National Title.|
far from prolific, the six teams that did make the trek to the Southwest town of Farmington, New Mexico, gave their all on the traction-rich sandstone.
Some of the Eastern teams, having never experienced driving on such gripping terra firma, were at a decisive disadvantage, while the 24 Western teams took full advantage of their experience on the dry and stable natural rocks. At the end of day one, the predicted winners were off to an early lead. Not to take anything away from proven drivers like Derek West and Carl Shortridge, this year’s GNs would come down to the top drivers in the West.
For six years running, the Amsoil/Torchmate Cutting Systems team of Brad and Roger Lovell have all but dominated the Pro-Modified Class. Their efforts have secured six Western Series Championships and two XRRA National Titles. They are arguably the best of the best and have the stats to prove it. The one trophy that has eluded the efficacious brothers is the Grand National Pro-Modified Championships. Last year was as close as they had come with the runner-up spot, but the 2008 Eastern Series Champion Derek West went on to win the title. The second-place finish wasn’t looked upon as a negative for the Lovells, but it did leave a bitter taste in the mouths of the brothers who have more podium finishes then any other team.
This year, after winning a Western Series Title for the sixth straight year, the Lovells focused their efforts on the Grand Nationals. Their methodical study of the courses and plan of attack was put into play on the morning of day one. Taking only calculated risks, the Lovells were able to gain the lead and only had one driver really threatening their chances in Troy Bailey. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride sums up Bailey’s efforts against the two brothers. Bailey, who has openly made it known his goal is to beat the Lovells, would be in contention by the end of day two. Trailing by only 18 points, Bailey was in a solid position to fulfill his goal. A clean shootout run delivered by Bailey and spotter Travis Heslington was enough to keep the pressure on.
|Luck played a huge part in the outcome for East Coast competitor Derek West. Unfortunately for the reigning champ, it was bad luck. This was the first time this season West missed a shootout.|
|This untimely roll in the shootout sealed the fate for Brent Bradshaw. His great run on day two will be remembered amongst rock-sports enthusiasts for a long time.|
Needing to score 19 points or better was the mission set in front of the Lovells (a.ka. the “Wizards of the Rocks”) on their final run for the 2009 season. In true Lovell fashion, the two made the run look easy by not going for anything that wasn’t necessary to lock in the win. In the end, 2009 would be the year the monkey was removed from the backs of the two who have without a doubt proved their worth in a sport that so few have been able to keep consistent in.
Tracy Jordan, who competed in the ever-growing Pro-Mod Class during the 2009 season (and won the last two events), decided it was time to prove what his two-seat, front-engine Spidertrax-built car could do in the Unlimited Class. Knowing Shannon Campbell would be defending his GN title was enough to seal the deal for Jordan.
“I am bummed I won’t be able to compete against the Lovells,” Jordan said. “I have never competed against Derek (West) before but decided to come out and have fun playing with my rear-steer.”
The option of rear-steer is not available to the Pro-Mod drivers, and that is why he tackled the Unlimited Class this year.
|Enjoying the traction on the dry, sandstone rocks, East Coast Unlimited Champion Carl Shortridge was the only team to represent the East in the shootout. Shortridge took home a fifth-place finish.|
|For Western Series Unlimited Champion Cody Waggoner, a fourth-place finish wasn’t what he was hoping for at the Grand Nationals.|
The commanding lead Jordan took over the rest of the field on day one was to be tested on day two. Brent Bradshaw of Team Trail Tough was the dominant force throughout the day having low scores on every course. Ironically, Bradshaw, who received Jordan’s 2007 Unlimited car (commissioned Scrapper) as a birthday present from his wife, was piloting a new chassis based heavily on Scrapper’s design and stuffed with its running gear.
Going into the shootout, Jordan still held a six-point lead over Bradshaw. Knowing the momentous run the soft-spoken unlimited driver was having, all were anxiously awaiting Bradshaw’s final run in the shootout to see if he could challenge Jordan for the Grand National Title. Unfortunately for the Trail Tough-sponsored car, gate three proved to be too much and a costly roll all but secured Jordan’s victory.
The decision to run in the Unlimited Class paid off for Jordan, who didn’t even need to run the shootout course. Being not only a world class competitor, Jordan is also an avid trail wheeler and wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to show the crowd what his state-of-the-art “trail rig” could do. Jordan smoked the shootout course – except for a roll – and also conquered a seemingly impossible bonus line. His last climb of the day is one that will be talked about on Internet forums and four-wheel drive circles all across the country for years to come. It was a climb worthy of legendary status.
|Troy Bailey will have to wait another year for a chance to topple his arch nemesis. The second-place finish for Bailey marks his highest finish at a Grand National event.|
1. Brad Lovell/Roger Lovell
2. Troy Bailey/Travis Heslington
3. Buzz Bronsema/Shon Wilson
4. Becca Webster/Mike Berard
5. Craig Thompson/Red Dragon
6. Nick Campbell/Jason Berger
1. Tracy Jordan/Jason Jordan
2. Brent Bradshaw/Chris Poblano
3. Jesse Haines/Brian Howard
4. Cody Waggoner/Jim Waggoner
5. Carl Shortridge/Mike Fox
6. Jason Paule/Mark Berger