November 12-13, 2011
Saturday Night: Lucas Oil Crusader
Sunday 3pm: Lucas Oil Crusader
Saturday Night: Lucas Oil Crusader
Sunday 3pm: Grave Digger
Monster Jam® Trucks: including Grave Digger® driven by Pablo Huffaker, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Lucas Oil Crusader℠, Tasmanian Devil monster truck, The Felon, and Pit Bull!
The last weekend of the 2011 Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam season got underway in 3 different cities across the world. Barcelona, Spain Hampton, Virginia and Albuquerque, New Mexico. The event in Albuquerque, at Tingley Coliseum, was vintage Monster Jam. With the perennial powerhouse drivers coming out and thrashing the Monster Jam raceway. Linsey Weenk, in the Lucas Oil Crusader, a truck that is less than a year old with one of the top drivers in the business in the seat are building fans on every tour stop and that includes Albuquerque. Linsey won the UTI Championship Round of Monster Jam Racing over Pablo Huffaker and Grave Digger, no easy feat, but one that Lindsey and crew chief Mike Christensen are always more than ready for. Pablo and Digger had won the Monster Jam Wheelie Contest, although the judges may have been star struck, as it seemed that Gerald Torres and Pit Bull had the highest, farthest and most vertical hit of the event. While Gerald had a fresh ramp and by the time Pablo got to it had definitely went away, Grave Digger was probably deserving of the win for the sheer driving prowess of Pablo. His timing on hit one was near perfect, dynamiting the brakes and then on the throttle hard at the exact right moment gave the fans what they have come to expect from the black and green wrecking machine. EXCITEMENT!!!
Grave Digger's second launch didn't have the wow factor that hit one did, but it was enough to get a win early in the night.
Freestyle came down to just a few points separating the top 4 drivers. The drivers worked the course like precision surgeons, strategically manipulating the trucks over the obstacles with high speed and flawless execution of using the front and rear steering. The Turtle Truck driven by Aaron Basl looked like he could come away with a win, after a tremendous freestyle run that had the crowd pleading for more than a 60 second run per truck. Kid can flat out drive a truck. Alex Blackwell, in the Tasmanian Devil worked the truck like the journeyman driver he has become. No matter the make, model or body style of a truck, you put Alex in the seat and you have a contender. Mark Schroeder and The Felon were up against the mechanical gremlins in his freestyle run. Sometime earlier in the night Mark had ripped a hole in the sidewall of the front left tire, making it difficult for Mark to negotiate the closed course confines of the Tingley Coliseum. Gerald Torres and Pit Bull also fought mechanical issues as the RII system kept triggering, leaving little time on the clock for Gerald to get into a flow, although he did have some big air hits that pleased the hometown fans and gave all of the love back to sponsor Juicy’s Hydraulic Services of Albuquerque. Linsey Weenk in the Crusader came out and was blisteringly fast from obstacle to obstacle and had HUGE air from both Stockholm stacks. He used his 60 seconds and then gave a short encore to the applause from the fans. Pablo and Digger were last. But it took Pablo too long to get into the flow and he ran out of his precious judged time, but his encore was the reason fans continue to pack arenas and stadiums word wide. Unfortunately for Team Grave Digger, all of the wow moments came well after the 60 second runs time.Sunday 3pm
Monster Jam Wheelie Contest Scores:
Pit Bull 19
The Felon 12
Tasmanian Devil 11
Grave Digger 21
Monster Jam Racing Qualifying Round
A new timing system was put in place for the Albuquerque. Something that will be debuting on the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam Tour full time in 2012. The system has a video feed that starts timing when the start lights go from red to green and is trained on the finish line. Not only will it be timing the runs it will also have a massive amount of frames per second breakdown to make close calls more efficient and certain from the Monster Jam officials.
The number 1 qualifier was the night’s eventual winner, Linsey Weenk and the Lucas Oil Crusader. 2nd quick was The Turtle Truck and Aaron Basl. 3rd was Alex Blackwell and Tasmanian Devil, Grave Digger and Pablo were 4th, with Mark Schoeder's The Felon 5th fast and Gerald Torres in Pit Bull 6th.
Pit Bull lost out to Crusader
Grave Digger buried Tasmanian Devil
The Felon was shackled by The Turtle
Crusader sailed to victory over fast loser The Felon
Grave Digger hammered the Turtle Truck
Crusader was victorious over Grave Digger
Pit Bull 14
The Felon 15
The Turtle Truck 20
Tasmanian Devil 19
Lucas Oil Crusader 23
Grave Digger 22
With the end of the 2011 season in sight, the drivers refused to let down. Although it has been a long, grueling year for all of the teams on the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam Tour, the stars of the show never forget the reason they are in the venues each week, Monster Jam FANS!! The fans in Albuquerque took in a fantastic matinee performance. They viewed tremendous driving talent, extreme amount of horsepower, metal carnage and what has become the staple of Monster jam events, jaw dropping, and awe inspiring aerial displays from all of the competitors. With 2 huge Stockholm stacks for freestyle along with steeply cut faces on the racing lanes and car/van stacks on the raceway, left the drivers navigating at times, in mid-air.
Aaron Basl started the day off with a nifty piece of driving during the Monster Jam Semi Final of Chicago style obstacle course racing. Flying into turn 2, trying to beat Alex Blackwell and Tasmanian Devil, Aaron and the Turtle bicycled up on the left side tires, normally this is when you would see a driver back out of the throttle, but Aaron, having spent many years in the seat of the Turtle, knows the truck as good as any driver knows their truck on the Advance Auto Part Monster Jam Tour. He left the pedal to the floor, steered into the turn and brought the truck back down in time to square up and nail the finish line jump wide open.
While Aaron's run was spectacular, Alex's run was equally impressive. In true Blackwell fashion, Alex piloted the Tasmanian Devil under full throttle, seemingly never lifting, running the course in a 4 wheel drift nearly the entire time. Skill. Alex has a ton of it. Alex and Tasmanian Devil came up just sort in the racing main event. The naked eye had the call going for Alex, but under further review from the new timing/video system being used in Albuquerque, the win went to Linsey Weenk and the Lucas Oil Crusader. Linsey was fast qualifier both nights and after narrowly edging out Alex with a flawless run of his own, he was the winner of both racing main events and had his sights and goals set of winning the freestyle competition as well to take 4 of the 6 possible victories on the weekend.
Mark Schroeder and The Felon fought a flat tire all night on Saturday, and just could not get the problem fixed on Sunday. The left front tire would not hold air and the pit crews for all of the teams came together, once again for the fans in Albuquerque, as they diligently swapped tires from the Turtle truck to The Felon for wheelies, racing and freestyle. A tremendous amount of kudos goes out to the hard working guys behind the scenes.
A massive amount of damage was incurred by the PIt Bull team during freestyle. The rear steer did not come around as fast as driver Gerald Torres thought it would as he headed off the Stockholm stack. Crabbed up, and in a bad position, Gerald had no choice but to leave the throttle on, or the lack of momentum would have flopped the truck on its side, the only downside to the right choice was the amount of damage the truck incurred when the sheer weight and force shoved the 4 link bar backward until the snapped. It ended the run for Pit Bull but the hometown fans enjoyed the performance.
The grand finale of the evening was when Pablo Huffaker and Grave Digger came to the track for the last freestyle of the year. Pablo even had me jumping up and down by the end of his run. Huge air, a slap wheelie and a blistering pace, along with a donut, which no one had done all weekend long, equaled a win.
Pit Bull 18 (maybe should have been the winner again on Sunday. To my eye it was bigger and badder than anyone else)
The Felon 11
Tasmanian Devil 19
Grave Digger 26
Monster Jam Qualifying
Pit Bull 30.63
Tasmanian Devil 16.15
Grave Digger 16.62
The Felon DNS
Crusader put The Felon through an inquisition he could not win
The Turtle Truck shovels Grave Digger out of the way for the victory
Tasmanian Devil bit the Pit Bull
The Lucas Oil Crusader went medieval on Grave Digger
Tasmanian Devil was a whirling dervish that put the Turtle on his back
Crusader narrowly wins in a photo finish over Tasmanian Devil
Pit Bull 5
The Felon 18
Tasmanian Devil 24
Lucas Oil Crusader 21
Grave Digger 25
By Scott Heaton