The second race weekend in Bark River, Michigan saw Team Sticker Dude looking to make a move up the standings in their respective divisions. In his first full year of competition in the Single Buggy division, Luke Zoetmulder has been gaining ...
The second race weekend in Bark River, Michigan saw Team Sticker Dude looking to make a move up the standings in their respective divisions.
In his first full year of competition in the Single Buggy division, Luke Zoetmulder has been gaining valuable experience and respect from his fellow competitors, at every round of racing. His hard work and determination are really shining strong as his finishes continue to climb.
In the PRO-Lite division, Lee O'Donnell is proving that consistency is key to this year's PRO-Lite Championship. The New Jersey native has yet to win a race this year, but finds himself in the top 5. Steven Federico on the other hand, hasn't had much luck this year and sits uncharacteristically back in the standings. The second half of the season is where Steven's driving talent will have to shine.
Single Buggy -- #342 Luke Zoetmulder
After the previous rounds of racing back in July, Luke and the Team Sticker Dude crew installed a new transmission with a new 3rd & 4th gear combination. Luke hopes this will help the Attig-built buggy 'pull' better up and down the two long straight-aways at Bark River.
The nineteen Single Buggies lined up for the land rush start with Luke Zoetmulder in his #342 Sticker Dude Designs, PF Changs, Invisible Glass, Goodyear Tires Attig Single Buggy lined up in the eighth position, almost directly in the middle of the starting grid.
At the drop of the green flag the field of Volkswagen air-cooled buggies headed into Turn One. Luke calmly guided the Sticker Dude Single Buggy through treacherous Turn One and headed for the Start/Finish line. As the field headed up over the hill for the first time, suddenly his buggy lost power. When this happened four other competitors piled into Luke. Needless to say the race ended before it really began.
When the buggy got back to the pits, the crew found damage to the both rear trailing arms, a crushed exhaust system and rear engine cage, a severed brake line, a broken valve cover, a bent wheel, the engine and transmission were shifted forward, and one sore race car driver. While the crew when to work and the crash damage, Luke discovered the initial problem, an electrical system failure.
"My day ended suddenly today. We have a ton of work to do tonight. I'm confident we will get the rear suspension and the engine back together, as well as, solve the electrical gremlin. I just hope my back doesn't tighten up too much," commented Luke Zoetmulder.
The crew worked late into the night and got the Sticker Dude Single Buggy ready for battle. The next morning Luke woke up to an extremely sore back. The team made arrangements for a backup driver for Round 10. Then about 15 minutes before lineup Luke 'gutted it up', put on his driving suit and got ready to race.
As the green flag flew, Luke charged into Turn One and came out in third place. As the field came through the start finish line and head for the front straightaway, several buggies pushed and shoved through the field, but Luke held onto the third spot as the field headed for the back loop. As Luke headed over the hill jump, the new found speed, from the new gearing, pushed the buggy a bit too deep into the next corner. This allowed three buggies to go by. Quickly Luke gathered himself up and looking to gain the lost positions. The next several laps saw Luke really putting the buggy through its paces. At the finish Luke came home sixth overall.
"The new gearing really helped us today," said Zoetmulder. "This class is all about keeping your momentum, especially going through the corners. The one corner that I lost that momentum, my competition grabbed that opportunity to get by me. I can't thank my crew and everyone that helped out to get the Sticker Dude Buggy ready for today's run. Once again my Goodyears really worked well on the Bark River dirt."
After 10 of 12 rounds of racing, Luke Zoetmulder is tenth in the Championship with 45 points. He only seven points out of sixth place. A solid performance in Crandon could move Luke well up in the standings.
PRO-Lite - #24 Steven Federico & #23 Lee O'Donnell
Steven Federico and his #24 PF Changs Invisible Glass Sticker Dude Designs Goodyear Tires Toyota Tacoma started way out in fifteenth place on the starting grid. This could have made Steven somewhat apprehensive at the start, but instead used it to his advantage. Steven told his spotter if the lead trucks going into Turn One left the inside open let me know and take a gamble on the inside line. Steven's teammate Lee O' Donnell and his #23 PF Changs Invisible Glass Sticker Dude Designs Goodyear Tires Nissan Frontier lined up in the third spot hoping the other trucks around him would not overdrive into the tightest start on the CORR circuit.
When the green flag fell, Lee was pushed to the outside of Turn One with much of the 21-truck field doing the same. Steven took that opportunity to dive to the slicker inside of the turn. As the field headed past the start/finish line, Steven was in seventh place one spot behind teammate Lee.
By lap 3 Steven has moved into third place with #99 LeDuc right on his bumper. At the same time Lee was in a battle with fellow Nissan drivers #8 Schmidt and #14 Currie for the sixth spot.
Halfway through the race #8 Schmidt got around Lee for sixth while Steven held on to the third position. On lap 7 LeDuc grabbed the third spot from Steve and Lee fought with #77 Vandenhuvel for seventh.
At the checkered flag #24 Steven Federico came home in fourth place and #23 Lee O'Donnell in eighth place.
"With over twenty trucks in the field, the start is becoming more and more important," stated Federico. "If you are not in the inversion (top 8), its almost impossible to run with the front pack. Finishing fourth is almost like winning when you come from so far back."
"Even though I finished back in eighth, I fairly happy today. My truck isn't geared quite right. The top end speed of the truck seems to be lacking. I can run with the best of them until we hit a long straight. Then the guy just walks away from me. I have the same gearing in my backup tranny. So we have to race a little harder on Sunday," stated Lee O'Donnell.
The start for Sunday's round of racing was not too kind to Team Sticker Dude. At the start the field headed into Turn One when someone up front spun causing a 10-truck pileup that Lee was a part of. At the same time another driver spun causing a second pileup that put # 14 Currie on top of the concrete wall and Steven somewhere in the middle of the pile.
Somehow the teammates cleared themselves from the wreckage at the same time and together, began working their way though the field. By lap 3 Lee was in seventh place with Steven right behind. Steven began to figure out where on the track he was quicker than Lee and planned his move.
On lap 5 Steven came over the hill, down the pit straightaway, got inside of Lee going into the Cemetery Turn and made a clean pass for sixth place.
On lap 8 Steven tried the same move on #55 Huseman, but looped the truck putting Lee back into sixth place and the #24 in seventh.
At the flag #23 Lee O'Donnell came home in sixth place and teammate #24 Steven Federico settled for the seventh spot.
"Right now I'm satisfied with my performance this weekend," said O'Donnell. "The truck needs more at the top end, but we will have that corrected by Crandon. Hopefully that will allow us to compete for the win. As for the truck, it's in great shape and we're fifth in the points."
"It was cool to race with your teammate," commented Federico. "Even though we started far apart for each other, we somehow were racing for the same piece of real estate. I can take this weekend as foundation to build upon for the rest of the season. I know I'm fast at Crandon and San Diego; I just have to stay clear of other driver's problem. That sounds so easy, right'"
Next Race: September 1-3, BorgWarner World Championship Off-Road Races - Crandon, WI