Everyone calls Mark Noble a rookie, but he’s a rookie in name only. Noble, wrapping up his first year in the Minimizer Bandit Big Rig Series, finally captured that elusive feature win at Elko Speedway in Elko, MN on Saturday, October 13, as the Bandits closed out the 2018 season. “We’ve been trying to get to Victory Lane all year, and we finally made it,” Noble said.
Noble (#74) has more than 600 career wins on the dirt track, but the 2018 season was his first go-round with the Bandits. “I have a lot of respect for Mark,” Ricky Rude said. “He races me clean, and he had a great race.” Going in to this final event, the championship was not “in the bag” for Ricky Rude (#14). He had a decent lead, but anything can happen – especially in racing. Ricky had consistently run well the entire year, so all he really needed to do to secure the 2018 title was to keep his nose clean and put in another solid finish.
After Hurricane Florence caused the original finale in South Carolina to be canceled, it was then rescheduled and moved to Elko Speedway in Elko, Minnesota, the site of a packed house race held back in August. As before when in Elko, the fans witnessed the return of Dave “Heavy D” Sparks, who piloted the #51 truck for the second time this year, while Diesel Brothers castmate and friend “Diesel Dave” Kiley made his Bandit debut driving the #98. “This is one of the wildest forms of racing I’ve ever been a part of,” Sparks said.
Ricky Rude’s closest challenger, Mark Noble, gave it everything he had at the season finale in Elko – he did well in his heat race, won a few events in the shootout race, and took home his first ever Bandit Series feature win in his home state. But that wasn’t enough to take the overall season title from Rude, who once again had a solid finish, securing another championship. “I’m tickled to death,” Rude said. “I hope I can make it three in a row in 2019. That’s my goal.”
The night was capped-off with a party, live at the Champion’s Club at Elko Speedway. Music and good times entertained the crowd who stuck around, which was most of them, as they got to see Ricky “Rude” Proffitt (#14) collect another points championship trophy. The top 5, following Ricky, in the final point standings were Mark Noble (#74), Justin Ball (#17), Tyler Kruckeberg (#54) and Allen Boles (#3). The “Hard Charger” award (Most Improved), voted on by all the Bandit racers themselves, went to Bob Mitchell (#13), while the “Rookie of the Year” title went to Mark Noble (#74).
The fans got to vote for all their favorites, too – all year long! Mike Morgan may not have had the season he was hoping for, competing at only 7 of the 10 races this year and only getting one feature win, but Mike and his black “Mackvader” Mack (#88) were voted by the fans as their “Favorite Bandit Truck” and their “Favorite Bandit” racer! And even though he finished the season in a disappointing 15th place, he obviously has the fans in his corner.
The Bandits will take the winter to tune and tinker with their trucks, but next year’s schedule is expected to be released in the coming months. As for the “rookie” Noble, he expects to be back driving for Kruckeberg Motorsports when the green flag flies for the first time in 2019. “I have to thank God for this,” Noble said. “I’m just an old guy having fun, and fortunate enough to do it.”
The Bandit Big Rig Series, brought to you by Minimizer and others, was created two years ago to return big rig truck racing to the short track in the United States. The series was designed to be affordable and accessible for anyone wishing to put together a team. For additional information about getting involved in 2019, please contact Jason Johnson at (507) 676-1987 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. When the 2019 schedule is set, we will share it with our readers, so stay tuned!