When I first heard Monster Jam announcer Scott Douglass begin talking about the Young Guns Shootout in Las Vegas, I wondered just what the deal was. What trucks would be in Vegas, when would they compete…basically, I wondered what the deal was! The previews continued until the big announcement on Monster Jam’s Facebook that it would be a competition on Friday night during the Double Down event, and a couple competitors have already been announced. Congratulations are in order to Bari Musawwir (Spider-Man) and Scott Buetow (Iron Man) for making the cut. Since that leaves us with six trucks, I wanted to throw out a few names I noticed that fit Monster Jam’s criteria of two years or less with Monster Jam and are not competing in the World Finals (of course, some competitors are up in the air, so I’ve kept that in mind):
Morgan Kane, Stone Crusher–I believe Kane has a great shot at winning the whole Shootout if he gets in…and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t. He’s been on fire since moving to the seat of Steve Sims’ old Stone Crusher, and has a world of talent and charisma to showcase in Vegas. If he does not get in based on performance this year, I’d be shocked, as he’s won at least one competition at nearly every show he’s been to this year. When I saw him pull off a terrific run in Atlanta’s freestyle as the first truck out, I knew he wasn’t scared of the big stage. He proved that even earlier with his breakthrough racing victory in Minneapolis driving Monster Magic. The sky is the limit for Kane.
Donald Epidendio, Titan-Fellow AllMonster.com staffer Dustin Hart has said before on the Beyond the Lens podcast that he’s never been more wrong about a driver, and I agree…Epidendio seemingly came out of nowhere with Titan and started burning it down every time out in freestyle after an up-and-down year in California Kid driving for Bill Payne. It’s obvious Epidendio just needed the equipment and he’d be on his way. I can also remember talking to Chris Cleveland about Epidendio and getting the “he’s the real deal” speech after a West Coast show as well. Every video I’ve seen of this guy shows that he has what it takes, and he’s been nothing short of spectacular on all his stops this year running for Monster Jam. I can’t wait to see what he’d do in the Shootout with an opportunity to perform in Vegas.
JR McNeal, Razin Kane-McNeil took over after Chris Lagana moved on to team SIR, and he’s another driver I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with. After a season running for other promoters, McNeal got a great opportunity this year and has not only expanded his team to two trucks, he’s stepped up his game as well. McNeal is aggressive in freestyle and has his shocks dialed in, and after meeting him in Hamilton, he also has the personality to make some new fans in Las Vegas. Razin Kane would be a great addition to the Shootout.
Nicole Johnson, Taz-Johnson has proven herself an aggressive driver, and that aggressiveness was taken to another level once she got the green light to do so in Grinder filling in for Frank Krmel. She’s back in Taz now, and has the skills necessary to do well in a format like the Shootout. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she was included in this field.
Joey Parnell, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-Parnell has picked up his pace rapidly since his rookie season in El Toro Loco, with more aggressiveness in his freestyles in particular this year. He’s got a tough job being the second truck to a Grave Digger (Randy Brown) in the same trailer, but does an admirable job. He also tears around Dennis Anderson’s Muddy Motorsports Park in his free time doing hill and hole mud bogging. If Parnell gets the opportunity, I see him doing well, especially in freestyle. When Parnell is allowed to turn it loose, he can put up numbers.
Stay tuned for a couple more drivers being announced tomorrow! I would also like to direct you to our 2012 Photos section, as it has been blowing up lately with great coverage from all over the nation. Thanks goes out to all of our photographers and staff for making this the best season of coverage yet for AllMonster.com–Where Monsters are What Matters! I’ll see you next week!