Fastest Course, Biggest Title: Monster Jam Set to Crown Racing Champion Saturday Night
It's the fastest course Monster Jam has each year. No other stadium even dares to build a track similar. Speeds reach over 70 mph before trying to cut a corner in order to leap to the finish.
The Monster Jam track at Sam Boyd Stadium has always been one of, if not the most, difficult to master. Even the most veteran drivers have difficulty on this track, and have proved that even the youngest of talents can often make the run to a title.
It's seen emotion, heartache, triumph, agony, and many other emotions. It is the Monster Jam World Finals, and this year with an expanded 28-truck field, it is without question the most difficult championship to win this season.
But who exactly will win it? With such a big field, it is difficult to narrow down who will be top dog in this bracket. But, I've decided to look deep into statistics and analyze who will be favored to win, who could be lurking in the shadows, and who has the longest shot of getting the job done.
Take a look at my predictions for the World Finals XIV racing championship:
Tom Meents, Max-D
I already knew going into this event who my top pick would be to win the championship. It's not because the truck is celebrating it's 10th anniversary, it's simply because of how good the driver is on this track.
In 2009, Meents won his eighth overall championship in Max-D, winning racing. It would be the final world title in that chassis.
Since he went to the current chassis that he debuted in 2011, he has been undefeated at Sam Boyd Stadium, winning two straight racing titles. And keep this in mind as well, since 2009, Meents has competed in a total of 16 rounds of racing at the World Finals. He has only lost one of them, coming in 2010 when he lost in the final round to Dennis Anderson in Grave Digger.
Meents has the best winning percentage overall at this track, but the fact that since 2009 is 15 for 16 at this event is mind-boggling. In order to win this year's title, every other driver has to go through the truck with a robot on the side.
Ryan Anderson, Son-Uva Digger
Last year I picked this guy to win the freestyle title, but truthfully this kid in 2013 has experienced a spectacular run of racing victories, especially in stadiums.
In just his second full season behind the wheel, Anderson has been on a tear, as in just three months his round-win percentage is nearly 94 percent, winning 15 of 16 rounds he's competed in during stadium events, including three victories.
This is only the second year that Son-Uva Digger has competed at the World Finals in racing competition, but among the Anderson faithful, look for the youngest gun to have the best chance. The truck's low center of gravity and wide stance make it a great piece on such a course where speed and handling are critical.
There is a big possibility that the youngest Anderson could actually trump his older brother and become the youngest champion Monster Jam has ever seen.
Damon Bradshaw, Monster Energy
Ever since he got a new chassis just two weeks before last year's World Finals, Bradshaw has been trying to find the handle on it.
This year, he's nailed it.
All year the Monster Energy Cadillac has been at the top of it's game, as Bradshaw has won four stadium titles, some in extremely close races. Coming from a motocross background, he understands how handling is just as important in these machines as horsepower is. Now, after making it to the finals one year ago, he's looking to gain his second championship in his career.
It would be a monster moment if Bradshaw upsets the field, but certainly would not be a surprise.
Dennis Anderson, Grave Digger
It's weird that I am putting the biggest name in Monster Jam in this category, but at the same time only reason I am is because of recent luck at the World Finals.
After winning the racing crown in 2010, Anderson has seen some mediocre luck at best in Las Vegas. In 2011, his quarter-final round race against Bounty Hunter ended up with a blown motor, forcing him to go to a backup truck for freestyle. Last year, he didn't make it into the top-8 in qualifying, forcing him to race his way through the first round, only to be eliminated in a close race in the next round by Monster Energy.
Still, he's one to watch in Vegas, especially after winning three racing trophies this season in stadium events. Anderson is always on his game in Vegas, so keep an eye on this beast come Saturday.
Jimmy Creten, Bounty Hunter
One of the most powerful trucks in Monster Jam is the Ford Expedition known as Bounty Hunter. But, the strange thing about the 2Xtreme team is that despite having one of the best handling and most powerful trucks out there, something in Vegas just doesn't work out for this team.
In 2002, Creten made it to the finals, but lost to Meents. A year later, the same thing, but he lost to then-champion Brian Barthel in Wolverine. He would return to the title race in 2006, but lost to Grave Digger. Two years later, he was thrust into the final when Meents couldn't get his truck to fire for the final round, but again, he lost, this time to John Seasock in Batman.
His most recent final round appearance was again against Meents, in 2011. But again, despite the great runs, he didn't make it to the winner's stage.
Creten has four stadium wins this season, so it appears that he is poised to finally get his racing trophy.
Jon Zimmer, Superman
I feel a bit guilty when putting this driver as an underdog for the title, but there's a couple reasons for it. First, Zimmer did not compete in last year's event, despite being on display at the pit party. This year, he got the opportunity to take over the newest Grave Digger truck in the fleet, and has done exceptional.
But now, he's going to be jumping into a completely different truck, from shock setup to actual chassis, and even body. Zimmer is taking over the Superman ride in Vegas, which is the team truck to Randy Brown who drives another Grave Digger.
It will be different, and difficult, for Zimmer to adapt to the new truck in just a few days, but he has shown in his previous years that he is consistently a fast driver. So, with that said, Zimmer is still one to watch.
Debra Miceli, Madusa
Now before anyone gets angry, confused, or think I'm playing favorites, let me clarify something. Yes, Madusa has not won a racing event this season, despite making it to the finals on her birthday.
Yes, her luck in Vegas since she returned to Monster Jam in 2009 has not been good, at least when it comes to racing. But, this girl does know how to drive her truck.
Her new chassis handles extremely well, and she is adapting very well to it over the past two seasons. Madusa is a two-time champion, winning racing in 2005 over Dennis Anderson on a track that was very sloppy and slick due to the rain that fell during the event.
The "Queen of Carnage" certainly wants to win another title, and show the boys that she is capable of still winning championships.
My freestyle predictions, including what I see as being the encore performance, will be posted in the next few days.