The Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League made its second trip south to the Carolinas this past weekend for the second event of the Champions Tour schedule.  The event was hosted by the Pumpkin Center Volunteer Fire Department and was a welcome back to the rich roots the community has in the sport of pulling.

What was once known for its rich history in providing a backdrop for pulling action had been under utilized in previous years; however, in 2012, the folks in Lincolnton, North Carolina came out in droves to pack the horseshoe facility located on the Pumpkin Center VFD property to watch the MAC Trailer Unlimited Super Stock Tractors, Optima Batteries Super Modified Two Wheel Drive Trucks, and the E-3 Sparkplug Super Modified Tractors vying for valuable points on the Pro Pulling League Circuit. 

 

On Friday Night, the clay pulling surface had many veteran pullers scratching their heads to find the optimal pulling setup with their vehicle.  In the MAC Trailer Unlimited Super Stock Class, Jeff Hothem of Dellroy, Ohio was beyond thrilled to collect his first Champions Tour win of his career at the first event of the season for his class.  Hothem piloted his John Deere known as Fully Loaded to a distance of 295.76 with the third hook in the class.  With a list of big name competitors waiting in the wings, Hothem nervously paced the sidelines in anticipation of each of his classmate’s runs.  Finishing second and third on the evening and helping to secure a 1,2,3 sweep for the John Deere fans was Aaron Hull of Waupun, Wisconsin.  Hull guided the ever popular Taking Care of Business of Joe Kwiatkowski to the runner-up spot, while he finished third with his own John Deere known as Out of Time

The Optima Batteries Super Modified Two Wheel Drive Truck class featured great competition between a group of fellows who share the same last name.  With early hooks in the class, the Nelson brothers, Jeremy, Jared, and Jordan, found themselves sitting in the top three spots and looked primed to complete a sweep they have so long desired; however, Don Nelson of Cat Springs, Texas had a plan of his own.  The plan worked brilliantly as the Lil Whip Chevy Colorado eased on by the leading distance held by Jordan Nelson giving Donald his first win of the season and second on the Champions Tour.  Jared Nelson held on for third with his Midnight Revenger Chevy, while oldest brother, Jeremy, secured fourth with his Speedco Midnight Gambler

Concluding session one on Friday Night was the E-3 Sparkplug Super Modified Tractor Class.   With one of the most impressive passes of the early season of 2012, Steve Bunnage laid down a hook to remember.  With the tractor weighted just perfectly and the proper dose of Ken Veney power, Takes a Lickin roared to a distance of 316.64, which was just over thirty feet better than its closest competitor.  The second place finisher was Scott Tedder and his Mr. Twister of Marion, Indiana.  Tedder proved that he would go to whatever extremes he needed in order to lay down a proper pass with his Hemi powered machine. In an effort to not over power the track, he removed his fourth motor from the chassis before the class began, and the strategy paid off as he completed a solid run collecting valuable points on the Champions Tour.  Closely behind Tedder was the second turbine powered entry of the Barga family of Ansonia, Ohio.  The Judge piloted by Ron Barga Jr. was on a rail and had a picture perfect pass down the center of the clay track much to the delight of the family and the fans of Lincolnton. 

On Saturday Night, the conditions of the pulling surface could not have been more different from the opening session of the Pumpkin Center Super Pull.  The same three classes from Friday night came to battle on Saturday, but the head scratching did not commence as this evening was about power.  The folks of Pumpkin Center put many hours into the track on Saturday and it did not disappoint, which was evident when the MAC Trailer Unlimited Super Stocks kicked off the evening. 

After a strong showing on Friday Night, Aaron Hull of the Badger State jumped up one spot from second to first with Taking Care of Business, the John Deere 9200.  Hull used the first official hook of the class to power out to 303.95, out-distancing his closest competitor by just of three feet.   Second place went to Duane Keener of Ashland, Ohio, who secured the second straight 1-2 sweep for John Deere fans with his tractor Bambi.  Keener was closely followed by Neil Gettinger of Hagerstown, Indiana on board the Lessons Learned Case.  The MAC Trailer Unlimited Super Stocks had a great showing in their inaugural event on the 2012 Champions Tour and now will find their way to Wilmington, Ohio next month where they will resume competition.  The strong start for Aaron Hull gave him the early points lead.  

Learning from an early hook which saw the Decision Maker sled be reset, John Mumma dropped to the bottom of the class with his Chevy SSR out of Philo, Illinois.  Mumma and his Midnight Motorsports teammates had the tune up and weight distribution perfect, which allowed After Midnight to secure the lead with the second to last hook of the class.  Just missing out on the win was former Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League Champion Keith Long.  Long used early data from his first entry, the Ridin Dirty Chevrolet, to master the setup of his MAV TV sponsored truck out of Glasgow, Kentucky.   Long out distanced fellow Kentucky native Donnie Sullivan and the Big Ed Red S-10.  The 1, 2, 3 sweep for Chevy gave the fans of the Tar Heel state something to cheer about.  When all the dust settled and the points were tallied, the early leader in the Champions Tour battle is defending champion Jeremy Nelson’s Speedco Midnight Gambler

The encore for the weekend couldn’t have been much sweeter as the packed hillsides of the horseshoe facility in Lincolnton were treated to ground shaking power with the E-3 Sparkplug Super Modified Tractors. Drawing the option of the pulling order was Friday night’s convincing winner Steve Bunnage of Golden Gate, Illinois.  Bunnage not only replicated his pass from Friday night but did so by adding one foot to his finishing distance, which secured his second consecutive win and sweep of the weekend at the Pumpkin Center Super Pull.  In hot pursuit of Steve Bunnage, was North Collins, New York’s, Joe Eder.  Eder brought his Hemi powered 75th Edition within four feet of the Bunnage families Takes a Lickin.  While locking down another top three finish on the weekend was Scott Tedder and his Mr. Twister out of the Hoosier state.  Tedder bolted his fourth motor back on the chassis he constructed and used every bit of his power to secure a strong third place.   The dominating weekend for Steve Bunnage catapulted him to the front of the points race after the Champions Tour’s sweep through the Carolinas. 

A lot of hard work goes into hosting a pulling event, and it was evidently clear just how hard the folks at the Pumpkin Center Volunteer Fire Department had worked to make sure the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League could put on a show for their fans.  The enthusiasm and excitement carried onto the property by the fans was contagious as the crowds were thrilled with the display of power they witnessed in their hometown!

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