Let’s just say J.J. Walls Jr. is having a good year.
After the U.S. Title Series and DePue split with the APBA last winter and caused each organization to hold their own separate national championships, Walls Jr. has taken full advantage.
After the 23-year-old Danville, Ind., native won four APBA national titles at the APBA national championships in Kingston, Tenn., in early July, he won a fifth national championship Friday at the Lake DePue PRO National Championships.
After sweeping all four antique classes at the APBA nationals, Walls Jr. won the C Racing Hydro title Friday in DePue.
“It’s what we came here to do, so we are achieving our goals,” said Walls Jr., who won three national titles last year at Lake DePue.
Walls Jr. nearly added a sixth title in Friday’s C Service Runabout, but a bad ignition switched caused his motor to not start in the first heat and he failed to take the course.
Even after winning the second and third heats, he was unable to catch Jack Campbell from Culver, Ind. — who edged him by 200 points for the title — and defend his national title.
“It’s real frustrating when you are trying to keep a streak going,” Walls Jr. said. “We haven’t lost at a nationals yet until that race. We’ll just keep going (Saturday) and do what we do.”
He will, however, take the title he did win on Friday.
Tied at 700 points with Justin Gibson heading into the final heat, Walls Jr. put Gibson and the field behind him early as he won the final heat by more than a third of the course.
“We had this happen to us in Tennessee where me and another guy had to duel it out in the last heat, so I kind of knew what the nerves were going to be like, what the feeling was like and what mental preparations you have to do,” Walls Jr. said. “To me, you have to have a good start and you have to be on the inside.”
Attempting to defend his C Service Runabout national title, Walls Jr. was unable to start his engine in the first heat, which ultimately cost him a chance at repeating.
“What we ended up finding out was the ignition switch on the motor went bad from just sitting in between races,” Walls Jr. said. “When I actually turned it off, it shocked me. We cut the switch off it, wire-tied the wires together and it fired up great.”
Walls Jr. — who will turn 24 next week — will aim to defend his C Racing Runabout and C Service Hydro titles Saturday.
While Walls Jr. was unable to defend his national title Friday, Doug Hall did.
After finishing third in the first heat, the DeKalb., Md., resident won the final two heats to easily win the 500cc Hydro.
“The boat that we’re running is brand new. We just picked it up and didn’t get it back home until last Saturday,” said Hall, who estimated it was his seventh 500cc Hydro national title. “We spent Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday trying to get it rigged before we showed up here Wednesday, and we’re still trying to mess with it. It’s still not right so it’s special to win this one knowing that we have a brand new boat and a long way to go with it.”
Also winning national titles on Friday were Layton Owen from Grove, Okla. , in the OSY 400; Jared Gryskiewicz, Loveland , Colo., in the 700cc Hydro; and Brianna Payn, Center Point, Iowa, in the K-PRO Hydro.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.