Over the course of the 2011 Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League season, there truly may not have been a more dominating performance than that of the Two-Wheel Drive champion, Jeremy Nelson.  Nelson, of Sidney, Illinois has been a continual threat on the Champions Tour as he has seen is 1941 Dodge Midnight Gambler finish in the top five of the points over the last several summers.  However, from the onset of the season of 2011 something was different about the Midnight Motorsports Team and their approach to pulling.

“A very close friend of ours passed away right before the Farm Machinery Show last year and it truly floored us.  We could think of no better way than to try to honor our fellow friend and fan than to put our best effort forward each week,” stated Nelson.

 

After the National Farm Machinery show, which saw the Midnight Gambler qualify for Saturday night’s finals, it was off to Saluda, South Carolina for the kickoff of the Champions Tour.  On Friday night in Saluda, Jeremy captured the win in impressive fashion with a late hook in the class.  Anytime a competitor can win on the tour it is considered a great achievement, but what began in Saluda was something far beyond Jeremy’s imagination.

In the next five months, Jeremy Nelson went on a streak that has not been equaled in the two wheel drive class with the Pro Pulling League.  He swept the month of July winning events in Fairfield, Illinois, Goshen, Indiana, and Evansville, Indiana.  The Dodge capped off the sweep of state of Indiana when Jeremy used the last hook of the class at the Indy Super Pull to win the event by over twenty feet.  When he arrived in Wheatland, Missouri for the finale of the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League season, the Midnight Gambler had won six events adding a win in Hamburg, New York to the ever growing list of accomplishments.  Knowing that he had captured his first championship with the America’s premier series, he was excited to just relax in the seat of his ever faithful truck and see what he could do.  What he did was win the event to incrase his win total to seven on the season out of the thirteen events that had been contested.  “I truly can’t put into words the streak we were able to put together; it just became my philosophy to ride the wave as long as I could.  The truck was dialed in, we were making great power with our Sassy Racing Engine and the setup was something we did not have to change much on the truck.  We have worked really hard over the years to find our combination and in 2011, it simply couldn’t have worked better,” added Jeremy.
 
One of the most difficult positions a puller can be in at a Championship event is the option, or test puller spot.  Being in that position requires the competitor to truly evaluate the degree at which their equipment performed against the track and the sled.  In 2011, Jeremy Nelson used the option to his advantage as he found himself as the test puller at four consecutive Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Champions Tour events.  After all four passes, the “Gambler” lived up to his name as he gave the official a thumbs down on the pass.  At Wilmington, he came back six trucks later to take the lead and sit on the pole position until late in the class when season runner-up Brad Moss grabbed the win.  At Fairfield, he turned down what would have eventually won the class, only to come back and better his mark by six feet.  Finally at Goshen and Evansville on consecutive days, Jeremy bettered his original pass only to come to the end of the track and stand nervously awaiting his competitors’ hooks.  “I truly hated having to turn down each one of those runs, but in this class with the competitors we pull with you have to be on it.  In each instance, I could find something that I might change to help our truck improve just that much more and in the end the option helped us to collect several wins and valuable points,” stated Nelson.  

As the books closed on the 2011 season, it was hard for Jeremy Nelson to think about his storybook coming to an end.  As he took the stage at the Champions Tour banquet to address the audience on his season, he simply couldn’t stop smiling with the sense of accomplishment he felt for winning his first title.  “Winning this championship has been something this entire team has wanted for years.  My brothers (Jared and Jordan Nelson), John Mumma (Jeremy’s Father-in-law) and Mark Austin have deemed ourselves the “Illinoise Boys” and we put our minds together with the hope one of us could win it.  I am the lucky one who did, but I simply couldn’t have done without them.”  

The people around him have certainly contributed to the team, but it may have been a higher power that gave Jeremy the confidence he needed to win this title.  Mike Waldon was not just a friend of Midnight Motorsports but more a staple with the team as he was nothing but upbeat and supportive regardless of the team outcome.  As the Midnight Motorsport rig would leave to head to another event, Mike would leave Jeremy Nelson with two simple words; “Hammer Down” and thus when he passed the team decided to make the 2011 season the Hammer Down Tour.  “I can say without a shadow of doubt that Mike was with me every step of this championship and that gave me an edge that I never thought I could have.  The confidence and energy that I found in losing someone so special to our team is beyond my wildest dreams, but Mike’s loss truly inspired me to reach beyond myself in pursuit of better results,”  Nelson said.  

To achieve a point’s championship is a big task and the ease in which Jeremy made it work in 2011 is a reflection of the people around him.  “I simply couldn’t do this without the love and support of my wife and kids.  Having Misty, Kayla and Tanner at each pull gives me an added incentive, and I thank them.  My parents and in-laws have been so supportive over the years of my pursuing this dream of winning a title.  My dad got me into this and my father-in-law has joined me in it, it is so neat to be able to go to a pull with my whole family.”  Another new staple for the 2011 season was the addition of a crew chief for Midnight Motorsports in the form of Dale Kirby.  Dale, a family friend, joined up in 2010 to hit the road for some Champions Tour pulling but in 2011 he made his presence known.  “Dale has been so incredibly valuable, he has truly picked up this sport without a hesitation and we could not be where we are without his efforts.  To the Midnight Motorsports fans, thank you for your continued support following us on Facebook, our webpage, and at the events.  You guys rock!  Finally, I want to thank the sponsors for their support of the league, especially Lucas Oil and Rockstar Energy Drink for sponsoring the class, and Speedco for adding the award money at the end of the season.”

As Jeremy looks to the 2012 season, he is seeing shades of a different color, as his fan favorite Candy Green and White 1941 Dodge now bolsters a new chopped top with the bright yellow and blue colors of Speedco Truck Lube and Tire.  “We couldn’t be happier to be teamed up with Speedco, we believe in their products and services as we are loyal Speedco customers.  It is our goal to promote their brand to the highest of our ability, while carrying their colors to all of our Lucas Oil events,” stated Jeremy.
 
Two-thousand eleven was a big year for Jeremy Nelson; we will see what the Gambler will do for an encore when the 2012 season kicks off in Saluda!

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