This year's Monster Jam "Path of Destruction" Tour only had two stops this year, with Philadelphia's football stadium being under construction for improvements heading into the upcoming season. That meant only two stops for the top drivers over the summer, hoping to gain momentum heading into the fall.
The final stop was in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where names like Eli Manning and Victor Cruz have made their names as top players in the NFL.
MetLife Stadium was rocking with 16 of the top drivers and trucks and a stellar crowd ready for some monster truck action.
The racing competition on the Chicago-style course was the closest seen in quite some time. Adam Anderson, driver of Grave Digger the Legend, was on a role with four straight stadium championships, which includes his World Finals win in Las Vegas, and was on a role of 17-straight round victories. He was once again looking for that streak to stay alive, but in the second round, it stopped dead in it's tracks.
His dad, Dennis, put his Grave Digger into the semi-finals where he would take on fast-qualifier Linsey Weenk in the Lucas Oil Crusader. On the opposite side of the bracket it was Damon Bradshaw in Monster Energy going against Lee O'Donnell in the new gold-and-maroon style Ironman.
In what can be considered the closest finish in Monster Jam since going to their current timing system, Anderson was barely edged out by Weenk...by nine one-thousandths of a second.
Anderson was protesting the finish, saying he was across the line first, but the timing did not lie and video proved Weenk was there first. Anderson would turn his focus off his loss and to his truck, as it was pulled outside with an oil pump issue. On the other side of the grid, O'Donnell won yet another close race over Bradshaw, setting up a guaranteed first-time P.O.D. Tour winner.
The final round was close, with both drivers some of the best racers in the country. On this night, Lucas Oil reigned supreme as Weenk would put his Cadillac in the winner's circle for the first time on the P.O.D. Tour.
The track was then cleared for the freestyle portion of the night, and just like one week ago the "Wow" moment that started out the night was Scott Buetow in the Team Hot Wheels Firestorm machine. In his third major stadium event since Las Vegas, he once again nailed a perfect backflip, sending the crowd into a frenzy, and putting him in the lead, where he stayed for most of the night.
That is, until the third Anderson in attendance came out. A year ago, Ryan Anderson was on the sidelines with an injury sustained in Las Vegas, so he could not compete in New Jersey's Monster Jam debut.
He more than made up for that as he would take the lead with a 31, and held the spot through John Seasock in the Advance Auto Parts Grinder, and his dad in Grave Digger.
But, one truck remained. Just like a year ago, Neil Elliott came out in Max-D and was ready to steal the thunder away from the Anderson family. His run in the futuristic SUV was full-tilt, no wasted motion. The highlights included a rare slap-wheelie from the front-engine truck, and ended with a monster pirouette. No rollover on this night, but Elliott took yet another trophy home from MetLife Stadium, where he remains undefeated in freestyle.
However, on this night it would be a double dose of Max-D. Track crews cleared out some cars that were in front of one ramp, and onto the track came yet another Max-D machine, this one wearing the spiked body.
Tom Meents didn't compete in the regular portion of the show, but came to MetLife Stadium to once again attempt the double backflip. A year ago, he twisted and went over, then in Las Vegas he twisted in mid-air, yet landed on the wheels. It was successful in that the truck came back on all four tires, but Meents wanted a straight-up double, no twists and no thrills. He wanted to do what Travis Pastrana did years ago on his dirt bike at the X-Games.
Meents did two warm-up runs, then backed up to get into position, right next to the junk cars that were blocking the ramp. With the fireworks shooting out the back and sides of the truck, he gunned the throttle and went for it.
One flip in and it appeared he would be close, but in the second flip he lost momentum and landed on the left-front corner, only completing about one and a half flips.
Fans left MetLife Stadium extremely pleased with what they saw, and are already anticipating what next year's event will have in store.
Visit MonsterJam.com for exclusive photos from the event and all the information on the shows later this year.