Just over a week before the Monster Jam community descends upon the city of Las Vegas, and a 28-truck field goes after two world championships inside Sam Boyd Stadium.

But, only 27 trucks and drivers have been given their ticket to race and freestyle inside the fastest, craziest, and most technical track the circuit has ever seen.  The final spot will be decided on Double Down night, where the other qualified trucks qualify for position.  That remaining spot is designated for the winner of yet another competition that will happen that night.

The Young Guns Shootout gave current Spiderman driver Bari Musawwir a chance to prove he can handle such a big track, as he won the inaugural event one year ago.  This year, he's in the big dance, and now an expanded 12-truck field will get the chance to go after their own title, and put their name in the big dance.

Of the 12 trucks that will compete next Friday night, let's take a look at the six that could make the biggest impact, and could be victorious at evening's end.



Dustin Brown, Wolverine

Possibly the one driver that has the most experience at this event has not even driven it, but certainly knows how to set up a truck for this track.

Brown has spend many years as the crew chief behind the success of Dennis Anderson and Grave Digger.  Now, after being told that as long as Dennis was driving, he wouldn't, he got the opportunity to take over the Marvel Comics ride.

With his former driver's blessing, he was given the go, but also was still at the side of the Digger, as he was the teammate to Dennis this season.

Now, the teacher gets to give many more lessons as Brown will now take to the actual track at the helm of Wolverine, trying to get his first big win as a rookie driver.  Look out for this clawed Ford to make the biggest impact, as this is who I'm picking to be the Shootout champion.

Donald Epidendio, Titan

In a surprising move, a driver that has won two stadium events this season is not in the big show.  Instead, he's getting another crack at an event that he competed in one year ago.

Epidendio has been on a great hot streak this year, winning back-to-back events in California this year.  One big change from his season a year ago has to be attributed to the new truck.  His Patrick Enterprises chassis is handling like a dream, and is giving him more confidence heading into this year's Shootout.

One year ago, Epidendio got upset in the first round by fellow Young Guns competitor Becky McDonough, but it could be a different story this year.

There is certainly no question that Titan will be flexing muscle en route to the finish this time.



Joe Sylvester, Bad Habit

One guy that has been snubbed a lot for this event finally is getting the chance to race his way into the field.  He is one of the craziest independent drivers out there, but one of the most popular as well.

Now, he's making the trip out to Vegas for the first time.

Sylvester has long been a popular driver among fans and competitors in Monster Jam, and his black and orange Cadillac one of the most eye-catching at pit parties.  It's already known that he is fast, he had to go past 80 mph a few years ago to break the old long-jump record in a monster truck.

The question now is can this young man make his Bad Habit a champion?  He will certainly have the backing to get the job done.

Morgan Kane, Iron Man

Another surprise this year in the Shootout was the favorite from one year ago.  Kane had the great opportunity in Stone Crusher to make it the first time that two drivers would drive similar named trucks.

This time, Kane has the opportunity to do that again, as does a few others in the field.

Kane got the opportunity to take over the second Iron Man truck once Scott Buetow got the chance to drive Team Hot Wheels.  But, it may be a new body, but don't be surprised if this guy has the rest of the field on alert as he will put this machine to the ultimate test, and possibly put two Iron Man machines in the main event.



Taryn Laskey, Dalmatian

If experience is a factor at the World Finals, then this is going to be the ultimate learning curve for the Dalmatian Nation.

Already having one spotted Mutt in the field driven by Candice Jolly, the entire spotted fanbase will have their support behind the newest Dalmatian in the Shootout.  One year ago, Laskey got her first taste behind the wheel as she was thrust into the substitute role of driving the Tasmanian Devil when usual driver Nicole Johnson took over the Advance Auto Parts Grinder when Frank Krmel got injured.

Now, she has her own piece to work on, but aside from being part of the track crew and helping her fellow competitors, she has never driven on this track.

She can get the job done, but it is going to be a monumental task for her to accomplish.  Luckily, whether she wins or not, the Dalmatian Nation will be on her side.

JP Ruggiero, El Diablo

From one relatively new driver on the circuit to a new driver with a new truck.

Wanting to expand into the hispanic market even more, Monster Jam driver JP Ruggiero has taken the reins of the newest truck on the circuit, voted on by the fans, in the 1950 Ford known as El Diablo, or the Devil.

But, much like Laskey, he has not seen such a track that is as fast or as difficult as Sam Boyd Stadium.  So the learning curve for him will be just as difficult, if not more.

Can he win it, sure, but it will be a difficult task for this young gun.


The Young Guns Shootout competition will be during the Friday Night qualifying festivities, as part of Double Down Friday.  Visit MonsterJam.com for updated schedules of events, including the new auction, the parade down the strip, and even more content for this year's World Finals.