The Eastern National Series Finals were in Dayton, TN and was a testament to the statement: Rock Crawling is not boring! There were multiple lead changes, but the final results come down to:
On Friday the crowds left work early and headed up the hill for a great night of action. The natural terrain rock wall always presents the course designers with multiple options and the competitors with having to adjust for constant change as rocks move on each run. The competition started just as the sun was setting but the action heated up as soon as the lights made the hill glow a bright yellow.
In the Unlimited Class there were only two competing for the win. Wes Keen, local favorite, was in a borrowed Unlimited car after he sold his earlier in the season. Bill Barton was on course with son Chicky Barton spotting for him. With a close battle on every course, and one point separating them going into the last course of the night, the Barton’s took the lead after night one.
In the Pro Modified Class, nine drivers took on the courses of the night. Course A4 claimed almost every team, and although a few gained progression points, Mike Thompson and Ray Steadward were the only ones that competed the course with a high score of 19, but put them in the lead at the end of night one. Derek West and Danny Rohrer also had good days with negative scores on all their courses except for the dreaded A4. Those three, all in the fight for the Eastern National Championship, would be at the top leaving Saturday night, but there was a full other day, and a shootout!
Friday Night Pictures
The Competition for the Pro Mod Class has the top four all within one point. The Final round will absolutely determine the series winner, and it can go almost any direction! Danny Rohrer has had two wins putting him at the top of the points battle right now, but his 5th place finish in round one was at this very location: Dayton. Right on his tail is Derek West who won the Dayton event, placed second in Hannibal and rolled during the shootout in Attica taking him out of contention for the lead. Mike Thompson and Ken Blume have been consistently competing for the other podium spots.
Everything about this weekends event will determine the winner of the series. As usual, a solid first day gets puts you into a better position for Saturday, but the shootout usually determines the winner.
In the Modified Stock Class, Duane Garretson and Mike Smith will challenge each other for the win. Looking at the points, who ever takes the win this weekend, will take the win for the weekend, will take the win for the season. If Mike Smith wins, they will tie, and the tie breaker winner will be the one that wins this weekend.
See more on the Championship Points Standings, CLICK HERE
Turning the page to Saturday night, the crowds came early in the afternoon and made a day out of waiting for the professional rock crawlers of the East to line up at 7pm for the singing of the national anthem and the starting of the engines.
This would be the night that not only decided the Event Champion, but also the Season Champion!
The scores tell a little bit of the story, but the real deal is, Danny Rohrer and Chad Rolfert in the Pro Mod class were on fire! Leaving every course with a negative score pushed them towards the top. Roll overs on the natural terrain is common and was a necessary evil for Derek Wes and Ritchie Keller who rolled themselves right out of contention. Mike Thompson and Ray Steadward, always right in the mix of the podium spots, broke and welded their rig back together again in time to get on the shootout course and take third! Kenny Blume worked his strategy of consistency and plucked his way up to second for the event.
In the unlimited class, there was quite a bit of battling going back and forth. But when the shootout took place there was no doubt why Wes Keen and Joel Wood are crowd favorites, they spanked the 40 point shootout bonus lines, with two minutes to spare! One of the wildest shootouts seen this entire season! With Barton rolling during his shootout, the Unlimited class winner was Wes Keen.
The Modified Stock class had its own heated battles going on between a full sized jeep and and a Suzuki Samari. What was better for these courses? Long wheel base or short? On Friday night, Mike Smith and Chris Endres proved that the short wheelbase would rock when they left in the lead by one point. But on Saturday, Duane Garretson and Jeff Spears came in for the win when Smith had a couple of rolls that didn’t allow him to complete two courses.
In the Sportsman class there were two trucks that went for the gold, and got a hand at what WERock events are like. Todd Klueger and Jeremy Norman had a great time in their Toyota Pick up trying to get through the rocks. It was by far a crowd favorite!
The WERock Eastern Comp ended after 1am, and the winners were handed their Torchmate Trophies for their walls. The end of the Eastern National Series came to a tight close, but there is still one event left this year…the WERock Grand Nationals where the East meet the West! Click Here for more Info.
Saturday Night Pictures.
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First W.E. Rock Eastern Round at Dayton May 2011 Recap, CLICK HERE