Fantastic shot at winning a boat

Brian Fuller is the envy of his consorts - all 31,481 of them.

That’s how many others registered to vote in the Toyota Trucks Fan Favorites Sweepstakes. Fuller was among the fortunate 12 selected to be “virtually paired” with an Elite angler, and now he has a 1-in-12 chance to win a boat.

“I feel blessed, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for the fans. It’s a great way to say thanks to the fans.

“NASCAR doesn’t give you a free race car. This is one of the better prizes I’ve seen out of any sport.”

The fan paired with the Toyota Trucks All-Star Week champion will receive a Triton 18XS bass boat with a Mercury 150 OptiMax engine.

“I’ve got a boat, but I need a new one,” said Fuller, the 31-year-old owner of a landscaping business in Prattville, Ala., who wondered if he was being pranked when he took the call last week. “I thought it was somebody messing with me.”

“Honestly, the odds of getting your name drawn when there’s 31,000 voters? Before it was over, she convinced me it was real.”

Fuller said he signed up a week late, but then voted nearly every day. He said he had to split his vote in the region because it featured friend and Prattville neighbor Russ Lane and Wetumpka’s Greg Vinson, his only disappointment so far in the promotion.

“That was the only thing I would have liked to have seen different,” he said. “Just line them all up and let us vote for who we want.”

That aside, he ultimately got who he wanted, learning recently who he will be rooting for hardest.

“I told everybody when I found out, ‘Just how great would it be to be paired up with Kevin VanDam?’” he said. “A couple days later, she told me and I couldn’t believe it.”

Yep, Fuller drew KVD, a fellow who one might say has had some success the past two postseasons on Lake Jordan and the Alabama River.

“Obviously, KVD is my first choice without a doubt,” said the active B.A.S.S. member who fishes local tournaments and has an 11-pound largemouth to his credit (that’s it in the picture). “I hope he does just as he’s done the past two years.”

Which is close the deal. VanDam won Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles the past two postseasons in Alabama, and this year, after taking his seventh AOY and an unprecedented fourth in a row, he only has the $100,000 winner-take-all prize in his sights.

KVD first must make the top eight after two days of fishing on Lake Jordan, then advance through head-to-head matches on the Alabama River, which culminate in a one-on-one battle July 31.

“I like the two-man shootout on the last day, I think that’s going to be interesting,” said Fuller, who believes his odds are better than 1 in 12.

If KVD wins, Fuller gets a boat. If KVD can’t pull it off for him, he said he has some alternate favorites.

“I’ll root for Kevin, but after him I’d say Jeff Kriet because he’s been so close many times. Aaron Martens, because he’s been close, too,” he said. “Those two probably deserve it the most.”

Fuller was in his boat on Lay Lake pulling for Kriet at the 2010 Classic when he witnessed  KVD knock Kriet to runner-up status. Like many B.A.S.S. fans, Fuller said it’s great when VanDam wins, but once in awhile it’d be neat to see someone like the Squirrel get a nut.

“You don’t get tired of seeing the same person win, but it just isn’t as exciting,” he said.

Hold it, Brian, what if KVD hears this?

“Come on out and root for KVD,” he said, “and bring your sunblock and bottle of water because it’s supposed to be hot.”

Fuller is the closest of the Delirious Dozen to the venues, and if business allows, will attend all the launches and weigh-ins.

“I may miss the weigh-in tomorrow, depending on if we can finish a project, but I’m 99 percent sure I’ll be there Sunday,” he said.

Others not as fortunate to sweat out the competition can coolly follow all the action right here, where the live blog kicks off at 7 a.m. Saturday morning to report all the on-the-water action.

Our extensive coverage also includes:

  • Live Video Updates from Dave Mercer at the top of each hour from 9 a.m. CT to 1 p.m.
  • BASSTrakk, the unofficial leaderboard, with weights and total number of catches throughout the day
  • BASSCam brings video reports each day from launch to weigh-in
  • The Realtime Leaderboard (this one’s official)
  • Live Weigh-ins at 5 p.m. CT each day
  • Hooked Up! Shows are at 4:45 p.m. CT, and stick around as Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona break it all down immediately after each weigh-in.