Photo by Dave DeAngelis
Last week, the Son-Uva Digger team with Ryan Anderson at the wheel, rolled into the Citrus Bowl in Orlando with a lot of momentum from the previous week. He would not only end his father's race-win streak, but would also take the freestyle win as well, the second consecutive year Anderson would Double Down in Orlando.
With all the momentum seemingly on his side, the 1950 Willy's Panel Van entered the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis looking to continue the streak that it was on.
Still, the Dome had a lot of strong competitors to go through. Monster Jam's return to the area that began the monster truck industry included the tough team of Heavy Hitter and River Rat, whom both were showing their strength in big stadiums, newcomer Cody Saucier in Monster Energy, Carl Van Horn representing the Grave Digger team, and a guy that has loved performing in St. Louis, Tom Meents in Max-D.
The enormous floor utilized the most common Chicago-Style track design, but the space meant high speeds and lots of sweeping cornering in each round of competition.
Anderson started out the night with the fastest lap in qualifying, just over 20 seconds, about three tenths ahead of second-fastest qualifier, Rod Schmidt in the Monster Mutt Rotweiller. After a bye run in the first round, it would be Digger vs. Digger in the second round, and despite a great run by CVH, Anderson wasn't to be denied.
In the semi-finals Son-Uva Digger would take out the surprise of the night, Devin Jones in Barbarian, and that secured his spot in the finals against Lee O'Donnell in Iron Man. Despite the hard effort, it simply wasn't enough. For another week, the black and blue panel van would take a trophy back to the North Carolina shop, as Anderson would show that he once again is the man to beat in the heart of the Monster Jam season.
But then came freestyle, and everyone was looking to create their own highlight moment. One of the first that came on the night was Madusa deciding to plant her pink Ford straight up in the air on the tailgate...and leave it there.
The other competitors definitely threw down their best runs. But with three trucks remaining, it was getting serious.
Van Horn put his Digger through it's paces the entire run, filling the clock and planting the truck on the track, on it's side, taking the lead with a 27, as other trucks tied for the same score but he acquired the most bonus points.
But then, Anderson rolled out.
After just three leaps, he tried to cut the truck to the left to get a run, and suddenly he bicycled onto the side. Normally when this time comes, if the truck won't upright, the shutoff switch is hit, but not in this case. Anderson floored the throttle, landing on the other side, and still tried to upright it. In what seemed like a move from a computer game, somehow the truck landed on the sidewalls of the tires and then back on the rubber.
The sold-out crowd absolutely lost it. Anderson put the truck in reverse so he had more room to turn around, and when he was able to, even with a rear steer that was locked in one direction, he would go on and fill the entire time.
Even with a strong run by Meents in Max-D, it was not enough. Anderson's score of 31 was more than enough to clinch the victory, and yet another Double Down.
Anderson has a chance next week to go after a third-straight Double Down as he will make the long trip out west to Anaheim, California, for the third show at Angel Stadium this year. But this time, he's going to have to take on his dad, Dennis, in the Grave Digger, who's coming off his fourth stadium race win of the year, as he took the trophy at Tampa, Florida, the same night Ryan doubled up.
For information and results of all the events from this past weekend, visit MonsterJam.com.