VanDam hurdles an AOY obstacle

LITTLE ROCK – Preventing him from launching his boat on the Arkansas River might be the only way to keep Kevin VanDam from claiming his seventh Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.

And that almost happened Saturday morning.

VanDam was driving on the Wilber D. Mills Expressway (630) headed toward the North Little Rock launch ramp when he noticed his boat trailer wasn’t handling well.

“Something felt kind of weird,” said the Kalamazoo, Mich., resident. “Then I saw a piece of rubber fall off my tire, so I pulled over to look.

“I’ve got two flat tires (on the right side of the trailer), and I’ve got an hour to get to the ramp.

“There was a tournament Marshal who just happened to be behind me. He pulled over to see if he could help. We just put the flashers on (in both vehicles) and I brought it here. I had to get here one way or the other. My GPS said I had to go about three miles on two flat tires.”

The grinding sound of metal on concrete created quite a stir among the observers at the Verizon Boat Ramp Friday morning as VanDam backed his boat trailer into the water.

With previous AOY points leader Terry Scroggins not making the top 50 cut, and Alton Jones, previously tied with VanDam for second place, doing the same, VanDam is poised to carry a considerable advantage in the AOY race going into next week’s season-ender at Alabama’s Lake Wheeler.

After two days, VanDam is in second place in this Diamond Drive event, 8 pounds, 6 ounces behind tournament leader Denny Brauer.

The obvious tongue-in-cheek question for VanDam Friday morning was, did he suspect Brauer might have had something to do with the flat tires?

VanDam didn’t miss a beat, saying, “If it would have been Denny, he would have gotten all four tires.”