Single Buggy Report - Luke Zoetmulder -#342
Friday afternoon saw Luke take the #342 Sticker Dude Designs PF Changs Invisible Glass Goodyear Tire Single Buggy take to the track for practice. On the second lap, the left rear stub axle broke, making for a long night of repairs. Along with the stub axle, the wheel hub and brake assembly were also destroyed. Fortunately, the team had the correct spare parts and had the #342 Sticker Dude Design machine ready for the Precision Gear Single Buggy - Round 9.
Saturday - Precision Gear Round 9
The land rush start saw Luke skillfully make his way through Potawatomi Turn One without any major contact. Not all the twenty-two Single Buggies were as fortunate. As Luke was exiting the first turn Evie Baldwin went end over end and barrel rolled within in inches of his Sticker Dude hot rod. On the second lap the engine would cut off almost every time he got off the throttle. Then he lost pedal pressure with the brakes. The lack of brakes compounded with the engine problem, made for a very interesting drive during the next seven laps. This caused the Sticker Dude to drop six places in one lap. Quickly Luke figured a way to pump the brake pedal and keep the buggy under power. It wasn't easy, but in the closing laps, his determination allowed him to pass two competitors for position and came home in thirteenth place.
Sunday - Coca Cola Round 10
After another long night working on the Sticker Dude Single Buggy. The team had repaired the brake system and fixed their engine problem. Luke Zoetmulder's goal for the final round of the Lucas Oil CORR Sportsman Single Buggy division was to have a strong race enabling the team to finish the championship point's chase in the Top10.
The #342 Sticker Dude started from the fourteenth position when the green flag fell. By lap two Luke had worked his way into the tenth position. The next several laps saw Luke and #352 John Heuvel in an epic battle. The two Single Buggies had a seesaw battle as the two passed each other for position several times. Finally on final lap, Luke made a strong move coming over the Barn Jump to make the pass stick. The #342 Sticker Dude Designs PF Changs Goodyear Tire Single Buggy came across the finish line in ninth place.
Afterwards John Heuvel commented on the battle between the two drivers," I saw you making the move in my mirror, and I thought if he has the guts to try that and pull it off, I have to give it to him."
Luke credits Steven Federico for the giving him some advice about passing on that portion of the racetrack. "I knew it was a risky move, but I knew my momentum would allow me to clear John's buggy," stated Luke Zoetmulder.
Once the results were finalized and the season long points championship was tallied, Luke Zoetmulder finished the season tenth out of twenty five Single Buggy competitors. The Sticker Dude was just seven points from seventh place in the highly competitive division.
"During my first full year of off-road racing, I really had a lot of fun. We would have finished two or three places higher in the standings if I had not been a part of the first lap melee on the first lap of Round 5. Yesterday's struggle with the brake and motor didn't help either. All in all I'm very satisfied with our team's outcome. I have to thank everyone that supports our race effort.John Schaud, my Crew Chief, always worked hard to keep it going; AJ and Timmy, from Steven Federico's crew, was always there to help; Steven Federico for all the infinite wisdom and inspirational words over the radio...especially at Antigo! Charlie and the Rat Pak, always great help!; Lee O'Donnell, for your words before races, keeping me calm: Mark Steinhardt, for being the best parts house a Buggy driver could ask for, you've taught me a lot!; especially Lil' Joe and the great crew over at Goodyear," commented Luke Zoetmulder.
PRO-Lite Report - Lee O'Donnell #23/Steven Federico #24
The Friday afternoon practice went without any surprises, and both trucks just need to get cleaned up Saturday's round of racing.
Saturday - Miller Lite Round 11
The starting lineup had Lee O'Donnell in his #23 PF Changs Invisible Glass Sticker Dude Designs Goodyear Tire Nissan Frontier in the fifth spot and Steven Federico in his #24 PF Changs Invisible Glass Sticker Dude Designs Goodyear Tire Toyota Tacoma in the ninth spot.
When the green flag fell, both trucks came through Turn One without incident. At the end of the first lap Lee held the sixth spot and Steven back in eighth. On lap two Steven made the pass around #30 Oberg and was running in tandem with his teammate. On lap 4 Lee went wide going into the Lucas Oil Turn and Steven got by his teammate. On lap six both PF Changs Invisible Glass PRO-Lite trucks got by #4 Marking. This put #24 Federico in third and #23 O'Donnell in the fourth spot. At the checkered flag, it was #36 Ampudia-first, #54 Naughton-second, #24 Steven Federico-third, and #23 Lee O'Donnell-fourth.
Sunday - Miller Lite Round 12
Sunday morning began with Steven giving a group of Goodyear Tire dealers a tour of the Team Sticker Dude Racing Pit area along with a quick overview of his PRO-Lite Toyota Tacoma. Throughout the tour, Steven gladly answered all questions the g roup had on their minds. On particular point of interest was how Goodyear uses off-road racing to develop tires for the public. Steven pointed out that the tires he runs on his PRO-Lite Toyota Tacoma are the same tires you can purchase for your truck from any Goodyear Tire dealer.
The race started with both PF Changs Invisible Glass Sticker Dude Designs Goodyear Tire PRO-Lite trucks once again racing in tandem. This round it was #23 Lee running in front of #24 Steven. By the end of the second lap the two were running in fourth and fifth place respectively. Suddenly Steven pulled his Toyota Tacoma off the track with the Auto meter oil pressure gauge ready zero. The culprit was a broken oil pump belt. This left Lee O'Donnell to bring the PF Changs Invisible Glass team home with a solid finish. When the checkered flag flew, Lee O'Donnell crossed the line in a hard fought fourth place.
The back-to-back fourth place finishes for Lee O'Donnell puts him in fifth place overall in the 2006 Lucas Oil CORR PRO-Lite Championship standings.
Comments from Lee O'Donnell after the weekend racing - "Once again consistency has been the key to our team staying in the Top 5 in the points championship. I don't know if we can catch the two trucks up front in points, but I know finishing in third place is very realistic. Right now we are only seven points out of the third spot. I am looking forward to San Diego to finish the season. I've had some pretty good success there, so I'm confident we will be able to turn a few more heads before the season is over."
Comments from Steven Federico. - "The third place finish on Saturday almost felt like a win after all the problems we've this year. It's been really cool to race for position with my teammate this year. Several times this season, even with the large number of drivers in PRO-Lite, Lee and I somehow run in tandem together. I hope this means we will get twice the amount of exposure for our sponsors when the racing gets aired on SPEED. I need to get our primary motor freshened up before we head out to San Diego for the last four rounds of racing. We need to come home with podium finishes to prove to everyone that smaller budgeted team can still compete with the "corporate" back teams."
Next Race - September 23-24 - Chula Vista, CA