As the Monster Jam season embarks on it's third month of competition, the time leading to the World Finals is reducing more with each passing weekend. The 32-truck field is nearly full, as at this point 29 drivers and trucks have been announced that will compete for the biggest racing and freestyle competition of the season.
However, Monster Jam will only announce 31 drivers that have automatically qualified for the big event. That final spot, it is earned the hard way...racing for it.
Beginning in 2012, Monster Jam introduced a new competition as part of the "Double Down" event in Las Vegas for the World Finals, giving drivers that have been in the sport a couple years but have not competed at the Vegas track, a chance to experience the speed and difficulty the track presents. In the first year, eight drivers would go for the crown, and it was Bari Musawwir in Spiderman that showed he had the ability to handle the fast track, taking home the win over Nicole Johnson in the Advance Auto Parts Grinder. Both Musawwir and Johnson are now competing in the big show, as Musawwir still campaigns the Spiderman machine while Johnson is now in Scooby Doo.
Last year, it was Joey Sylvester and his Bad Habit Cadillac taking the win in an expanded 12-truck bracket, as he held off Morgan Kane in Ironman, for the biggest win of his career. The win also was important because it was also his ticket into the main event, the first year Monster Jam had the Shootout winner go to the then 28-truck field.
This year's field is again expanding, now up to 14 drivers, and has experienced Shootout competitors and also some fresh faces going after the trophy. Let's take a look at the field of trucks and drivers that are looking to become the 32nd competitor in this year's Monster Jam World Finals:
- Becky McDonough: El Toro Loco
- BJ Johnson: Mohawk Warrior
- Coty Saucier: Monster Energy
- Daron Basl: Nitro Hornet
- Derick Anson: Heavy Hitter
- Greg Winchenbach: Crushstation
- JP Ruggiero: El Diablo
- JR McNeal: Xtermigator
- Mike Vaters Jr: Overkill Evolution
- Scott Liddycoat: Dragon's Breath
- Steve Koehler: Wrecking Crew
- Steven Simms: Hooked
- Taryn Laskey: Monster Mutt Dalmation
- Travis Groth: Captain USA
Only two drivers return that have competed in both Shootoouts, McDonough and McNeal, while Basl, Winchenback, Ruggiero, Simms and Laskey all competed a year ago. That means eight new faces are going after the 32nd and final spot in the World Finals.
This year's Young Guns Shootout once again happens during the Double Down event, which will happen on Thursday, March 20. The World Finals has expanded to a 3-day experience, with the Double Down and Qualifying occurring on Thursday, and then the main event now spanning Friday and Saturday. Friday night, March 21, the 32-truck bracket will work it's way down to determine the racing champion. Then, the following day, the entire track will different, as the entire field will have a chance to change setups, while the dirt crew makes changes to the track, making it the biggest and most challenging freestyle track run on all year.
Tickets are still available for the big show. Visit MonsterJam.com to find out where to get tickets, along with hotel deals and the entire schedule of events for all three days of action.