As the month of February draws to a close, it also marks one month before Monster Jam officially makes it's return to Las Vegas. With 27 of the 28 contenders officially named, the key for any driver and team is to grab momentum heading into the big show.
In the case of the Anderson family of drivers, that certainly became a reality. Dennis, Adam and Ryan Anderson all were set to close out the final weekend of February with victories. Both Dennis and Ryan were competing against one another in Jacksonville, while the oldest son was setting shop in Arlington, Texas.
When the weekend ended, all three could say they brought home hardware.
To start off, the Jacksonville faithful sold out EverBank Field, putting 72,000 screaming fans inside the home of the Jaguars. A 16-truck field was set to conquer one of the last remaining stadium events of the season, and all came with vengeance in their eyes. Ryan would top the qualifying charts, while his dad wouldn't even make the racing bracket. A problem during introductions forced Grave Digger to the sidelines, unable to qualify and having to wait till freestyle to make it up to the fans.
But, when one Anderson is down, the other picks up the slack. Ryan took his bye-run in the first round, then took out Stone Crusher in the next heat, followed by eliminating Hooked, driven by Bryan Wright, to reach the finals. His opposition would be his teammate, Marc McDonald in the black El Toro Loco.
The two kept it close, but Ryan would pull out the victory, meaning he had the opportunity to go for a third straight Double Down trophy.
Freestyle was exceptional, with great runs put on by every driver. After Dustin Brown in Wolverine put himself atop the board, the show went into a stand still, but not because the people were in awe. Instead, the Florida weather decided to throw a curve ball into the mix. The skies opened up, and a major downpour hit the Jacksonville area, and with lightning in the area, fans and teams ducked for cover. Each truck was a 10,000-pound lightning rod, so the show went under a rain delay, something usually never seen in the sport.
After 45 minutes, the rain stopped, and some fans already made their way to the parking lot...but the show wasn't done. Some fans waited under the concourse to see if the four remaining drivers could still take top honors, but now on a completely different surface.
Both El Toro Loco and Son-Uva Digger tied for the lead, and after Grinder had engine woes due to moisture, it was time for daddy to repay his fans. The new Ukraine tires that Dennis installed last summer were perfect for the muddy surface, as he put on a clinic on how to run in the soupy terrain. His run ended with a huge leap, snapping the entire rear axle, breaking off both rear tires. With his "black and green wrecking machine" covered in what looked like chocolate milk, the elder Anderson took home a freestyle win, assuring an Anderson sweep in Florida.
Weather wouldn't play a factor in Cowboys Stadium, as the closed roof provided excellent conditions, and hopefully a weekend sweep for the Anderson family.
The night started off the right way as Adam would take top qualifying honors, and then work his way through the bracket to the finals, ironically also facing off with a team El Toro Loco driver, this one being Ryan Huffaker. But, on this night it was the Legend taking the trophy, which at that point meant three of five big trophies were going to the Anderson family.
Adam tried his best to get the Double Down inside the grand stadium, but on this night, the winner was Jim Koehler in his Avenger Chevrolet. Despite not making bonus time, his major air and incredible saves during the 90-second period he did perform was enough to take home the big trophy.
Still, taking home three big stadium trophies to close out February isn't bad for the first family of Monster Jam, and huge considering the momentum it carries heading into Las Vegas.
March kicks off with a bang as two major stadiums host Monster Jam, one having two shows over the weekend. Detroit welcomes back Monster Jam to Ford Field, one week earlier than originally planned, and it will see Dennis face off against Tom Meents in his Max-D machine, first time in years the two will be in Detroit at the same time. Ryan will also be in attendance, hoping to make the Motor City stand up and roar it's approval.
El Paso, Texas, will host the only stadium to host two events over the course of the season back-to-back. There will be a Saturday night event at 7 p.m. CT, but for fans unable to come under the lights, the next day there is a daylight 2 p.m. CT event. Many world champions will be in attendance, including Charlie Pauken in his Grave Digger, Damon Bradshaw with Monster Energy, and Adam will bring his Legend machine to the party.
Visit MonsterJam.com for all the latest information and results from this past weekend, along with ticket info on when Monster Jam is coming to your area.