With points on the line, everybody was set to go as hard as they could throughout freestyle, and it showed with three drivers tying for the top spot at the leaderboard. In the end, it was Becky McDonough taking the victory over Ryan Anderson and Carl Van Horn.
The freestyle competition started off with Mike Vaters behind the wheel of Black Stallion putting together three small hits, followed by a big hit and roll over with 20 seconds on the clock. He’d score 29 points for his efforts.
Todd Morey in Bounty Hunter was looking to put together a great run after winning the Wheelie Competition, though came up short as after two semi-big jumps, he had a left rear tire go flat and end his run with 54 seconds remaining. He’d score 24 points for his efforts.
The big surprise for many fans was Matt Pagliarulo in Jester as he’d have some big air moments throughout his run, followed by an almost-front flip to finish that saw him roll over. He’d be awarded for his efforts with 37 points.
With solid air throughout his run, Mike Christensen was awarded 24 points.
While the guys were putting together solid runs, it was time for the lady to show them how it was done. Starting off the run with the highest air the fans had seen all night, Becky McDonough in El Toro Loco kept the momentum and air coming throughout the run with jump and jump. She attacked every obstacle fully without a single hang-up. With a small save near the end of her run, she was awarded for her efforts with a perfect score of 40.
“I’m having a ton of fun,” McDonough said after her run. “I saw all the signs and knew I had to go all out. I didn’t hold back, just went for it and had tons of fun.”
Mike Thompson in Wrecking Crew kept the entertainment coming, performing the first cyclone of the night and a couple decent jumps for a score of 29.
The surprises continued as Jamey Garner behind the wheel of Over Bored put the truck on its nose, and got some of the biggest air of the night across the floor en route to a score of 36.
Going into freestyle, Cory Rummel was concerned about how his truck Rage would perform, saying, “The motor is set to go out, but we are working on it and I am ready to go all out for freestyle.” He got some solid air throughout the run, but unfortunately the issues struck again as he’d stop with 47 seconds still on the clock. He was awarded 27 points for his efforts.
Devin Jones in Barbarian got some decent air, but with nothing over the top, he was given a score of 27.
Everybody expected Coty Saucier in Monster Energy to put together a top-notch freestyle as he entered Toronto as the Stadium 3 Tour Points Leader. However, battling issues with his truck, he wasn’t able to get as much air as he wanted en route to scoring 25 points.
Mike Vaters II in Overkill Evolution experienced rear-end issues in racing, but was able to get those fixed in time for freestyle. He’d start off the run with some of the best air of the night, crossing the track in the air at one point, but fell short of completing the full time due to more rear-end issues. He’d score 31 points.
Carl Van Horn in Grave Digger knows what it takes to win in Toronto, and came out strong with three big air moments, as well as cyclone. He then put together the first completed black flip of the night, though found himself on his lid with 45 seconds remaining due to coming off a jump sideways. The judges awarded him 40 points, matching McDonough’s score. However, due to McDonough filling the clock while Van Horn did not, McDonough was given the tie-breaker by the “special judge”.
Looking to double down after winning racing, Ryan Anderson in Son-uva Digger came out of the box flying. He put together three bicycle moves and two big saves, before going for the back flip. He’d complete the rotation on the flip, but the truck bounced and then rolled over as the time ran out. The judges awarded him for his efforts, giving him 40 points as well.
The special judge was then given the tie-breaking decision, and awarded the win to Becky McDonough and El Toro Loco. It marks her first victory in Toronto, and first of the season.
“Ryan is someone I look up to and I have to thank him for everything,” McDonough said. “He has taught me so much. Carl is also another great driver, and someone that I look up to. I can’t believe I am taking the win home.”
There was no explanation given by the special judge for their choice in scoring the outcome, however this writer has to believe it comes down to when the judges first filled their scores.
Following McDonough’s run, each of the five judges gave her 10 points, along with the fans. Therefore, if you drop a pair of the judges’ scores, that gets you 30 from judges plus 10 from the fans for 40.
Now following Anderson’s run, two judges put up 9s while the other three gave him 10, and the fans gave him 10. After the reveal of the scores and the boos from the fans, the second judge who originally showed 9 changed it to a 10. Therefore if you drop the remaining 9 and one of the 10s, you get 30, plus 10 from the fans for 40. However, since it was originally “39” should the second 9 remained, McDonough would’ve had the edge if the score wasn’t changed. So therefore, it appears as though the special judge went with the original intended scores before fan influence.
“Becky is amazing and deserves the win,” Anderson said after his run. “Make sure you come back tomorrow (Sunday) and tell your friends to come. I will make sure to drive like a mad man, and drive this truck into the ground. Thank you for the all the support the 35th Grave Digger Anniversary, and I can promise you the Anderson name isn’t leaving anytime soon.”
In this writer’s opinion, Anderson should’ve got the win over McDonough based on more “thrilling, edge of your seat” moves over the course of the run.
Regardless, even with the scores as they stand, it marks a HUGE swing in the points standings tonight for Ryan Anderson over Coty Sauicer.
Coming into the event, Saucier led Anderson by a single point after Saucier won Freestyle in Tampa and Racing in Orlando to go with Anderson’s Tampa Racing win.
However, with Saucier’s problems in freestyle, Anderson currently holds a nine-point over Saucier going into Sunday’s Toronto show. McDonough also made a big move in the standings as her freestyle victory allowed her to move up to third from fifth, only two points behind Saucier. Carl Van Horn sits fourth in the standings, with Corey Rummel rounding out the top-five.
The points can be viewed below. Please note these are unofficial and just calculated by the writer, as I am not 100% sure who gets the freestyle tie-breaker between Christensen & Morey, or between Rummel & Jones.
- Ryan Anderson & Son-uva Digger — 75
- Coty Saucier & Monster Energy — 66
- Becky McDonough & El Toro Loco — 64
- Carl Van Horn & Grave Digger — 62
- Cory Rummel & Rage — 58
- Mike Vaters II & Overkill Evolution — 51
- Matt Pagliarulo & Jester — 42
- Jamey Garner & Over Bored — 41
- Mike Christensen & Iron Outlaw — 40
- Mike Thompson & Wrecking Crew — 33
- Mike Vaters & Black Stallion — 29
- Todd Morey & Bounty Hunter — 24
- JR McNeal & Xtermigator — 21
- Devin Jones & Barbarian — 21
There are still tickets available for the Sunday show at the Rogers Centre this weekend. Ticket prices start at $15, with Pit Party Passes are available for purchase for $10. Tickets and Pit Passes are available at the Rogers Centre Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.ca, and at (855) 985-5000.
The Pit Party will be held from 10:30am to 12:30pm on Sunday, January 29. The pre-show pit party gives fans the chance to see the massive Monster Jam trucks up close, meet drivers, take pictures and get autographs. To access the Pit Party, event ticket and Pit Party Pass must be presented upon entry.