Federico, O'Donnell Finish Second & Third in PRO-Light Championship Zoetmulder Saves Best Run for Crandon Lake Zurich, IL (September 3, 2008) - Sticker Dude Motorsports headed to Crandon's Labor Day Weekend Classic, with ...
Federico, O'Donnell Finish Second & Third in PRO-Light Championship
Zoetmulder Saves Best Run for Crandon
Lake Zurich, IL (September 3, 2008) - Sticker Dude Motorsports headed to Crandon's Labor Day Weekend Classic, with thoughts of winning the 2008 WSORR Pro-Light Championship. As the teams headed to the 39th edition of the BorgWarner Off-Road Championships for the final weekend of WSORR racing, teammates Steven Federico and Lee O'Donnell still had a shot for the championship. Steven, in his #24 Invisible Glass P.F. Changs Hankook Tires Toyota Tacoma, was in second place, and Lee O'Donnell, in his #23 Hankook Tire Invisible Glass P.F. Changs Toyota Tacoma, was just a few points behind Steven, in third place. This is the first time in both drivers' PRO-Light careers, since Steven's rookie season, that they had a chance of bringing home a championship, while going into the final race weekend of the season.
Decision at Sundown
Before everyone focused on the championship chase, the fine folks at Crandon International Raceway and the Forest County Potawatomi community brought all the big names in PRO-Light together in Crandon for a sixteen lap sprint, the Decision at Sundown. This showdown race is similar to the BorgWarner Shootout, except it's for the mid-size PRO-Light trucks. The race winner gets a nice trophy and the lion's share of the $20,000 payout.
The track at Crandon now has three different configurations and the showdown race used the short-short track, keeping all the action under the lights and in front of the fans. The sixteen lap race was both fast and exciting, for driver and fan alike.
Friday afternoon, the ten PRO-Light trucks went out for qualifying for the evening's event. Early on, Steven Federico and his #24 Invisible Glass PF Changs Hankook Tire Toyota Tacoma, set a blistering lap, grabbing the pole, only to have Jeff Kincaid better his time by a slight .2 seconds, as the qualifying session finished up. This still put the Invisible Glass Toyota on the front row, of the land rush start.
The start saw #4 Kincaid grab the lead, with Steven right on his bumper. Then on lap five, the engine in the Tacoma began to overheat, as the truck lost all electrical power. Rapidly, Steven shut everything down, hoping to minimize the engine damage.
"I love this layout," stated Steven Federico. "I didn't know if I could catch Jeff, but I was really going to try. About a lap before I shut everything down, I realized I was having an electrical problem. The alternator quit charging, the battery went dead, then my radiator fan quit. I saw the temps beginning to climb. I shut the motor down to prevent any damage. A.J. and Chris will have this fixed by tomorrow, and we will be back, competing for the win."
Meanwhile, teammate Lee O'Donnell and his #23 Hankook Tires Invisible Glass PF Changs Toyota Tacoma, qualified a quick, solid fifth.
The start saw the Hankook Toyota take a conservative approach, staying away from contact, settling in seventh place, as the pack headed in front of the skyboxes. As the sixteen lap race moved forward, so did Lee. At the finish, Lee crossed the line in fourth place.
"The start put me behind a bit," remarked Lee O'Donnell. "We were getting closer to the leaders at the end, but ran out of laps to get to the podium."
After the Decision at Sundown, the Mole Lake Casino held a pit party for the drivers and their crews. There was plenty of food, drink, and games to keep everyone entertained, well into the night. Sticker Dude Motorsports owner, Luke Zoetmulder, helped organize the well attended event.
Both Sticker Dude Motorsports Toyota Tacomas were ready for the final points' races, in the World Series of Off-Road Racing. Before the weekend's festivities, Steven was in second place in the points' standings, only 11 points out of first place, and Lee was another 10 points back, in third place. The combination of podium finishes and a little misfortune by the point's leader and either Hankook Tire teammate could be PRO-Light champion.
Saturday - Round XI
Race officials made the call to run Saturday's Pro-Light race on the Crandon short track, which eliminates the two long straightaways, putting the racers back onto Turn One, after completing the Argonne Loop.
Steven Federico came through Potawatomi Turn in third place, just behind #4 Kincaid and #80 Oberg. By the second lap, the Hankook tires, powered the Invisible Glass Toyota into second place. On lap three, the #24 lost the power steering, and then saw the engine temperature quickly rise. At that point, Steven alertly turned everything off, thus ending his day. The culprit was a broken drive belt. A rock probably got between the belt and a pulley, causing it to break. This is a rare occurrence, but a problem none the less. Officially, Steven finished tenth. This was a serious blow to his championship hopes.
Meanwhile, teammate Lee O'Donnell, and his #23 Hankook Tires Invisible Glass PF Changs Toyota Tacoma came through the first turn in seventh, looking to move to the front. While Steven was ending his day, Lee was on the move. By lap five, the Hankook Toyota had worked its way into fourth place. Then, as his eyes were set on a podium finish, the engine temperature began to climb. Fortunately, the problem wasn't terminal, as the temperature would come down, when he backed off the throttle. Aware, Lee reduced his race pace, keeping the engine temperatures manageable, while crossing the finish in fourth place. Later that evening, the crew found a defective radiator cap, that would not keep pressure in the cooling system. The cap was replaced, the system was pressure tested, and the crew deemed the truck good to go.
Luke Zoetmulder and his #924 Mole Lake Casino Invisible Glass Hankook Tire AMS Performance Toyota powered Super Buggy had a solid start coming through the first turn in seventh place. On lap three, while trying to set up #922 Barnum for a pass for position, Luke used his steering brake to avoid contact, causing the Mole Lake Buggy to spin. Once he gathered up the buggy, the Sticker Dude went back to racing, now in tenth place. Luke continued to run down the competition, as he was able to move around #903 Schwartzburg, to finish in ninth place.
Sunday - Round XII
Sunday morning, all three Sticker Dude Motorsports drivers were looking for a great run, to end their season. The crew went through their final check down list, as fresh sets of Hankook DynaPRO MT tires were mounted to each racer's set of American Racing wheels.
When the green flag fell, the #24 Invisible Glass had another one of its awesome starts, just missing the holeshot, as Steven took the side of caution, allowing #4 Kincaid to inch ahead. As soon as the race looked like Steven had a shot at the top spot on the podium, the shift linkage broke and the #24 Tacoma spun, as the entire field went past. Once Steven got the truck pointed in the right direction, the broken shift linkage only allowed the use of first and second gear. At that point, Steven motored around until the checkered flag fell, officially, finishing in seventh place.
Lee O'Donnell, in his #23 Hankook Tires Invisible Glass PF Changs Toyota Tacoma, saw the return of the overheating issues, just after the second lap. This left Lee driving with similar tactics as Steven. The New Jersey native crossed the finish line in sixth place.
After all the season's championship points were tallied, Steven Federico finished the year in second place, and five points back was teammate Lee O'Donnell, in third. Congratulations, to fellow Toyota driver, Jeff Kincaid, for winning the 2008 WSORR PRO-Light title.
"The weekend didn't end up like I planned," noted Steven Federico. "The majority of the season we had a pretty strong program. This weekend we just had some tough luck. When you are racing with Jeff Kincaid for the title, there's no room for error or bad luck. Your A game has to be on every time out. This is the closest we've come to a championship in PRO-Light, this is going to stick with me for a few days."
"I think we were just snake bit this weekend," remarked Lee O'Donnell. "I just had my motor freshened up by FAT Performance, and Steve, likewise, from Goodwin Performance, knowing how important this weekend would be. When we had the trucks running hard, the Hankooks were the best tires on the track. We had dry conditions, wet conditions, and the dry slick corners were not a problem for our Hankooks. I have to thank Case Gunderson from Race Fab for a great job prepping my truck all season long. Thanks to Invisible Glass, P.F Changs, and Sticker Dude for all their support, as well."
The last race of the season was the PRO-Super Buggy race. Luke Zoetmulder, in his #924 Mole Lake Casino Sticker Dude Motorsports Hankook Tire Toyota powered Super Buggy, was looking to end the season on a high note. Just like his teammates, his powerplant was freshened up by his engine builder, AMS Performance, because the BorgWarner Off-Road Championship is the Daytona 500 of the World Series of Off-road Racing. After a disappointing finish on Saturday, Luke was determined to put a strong finish together. The #924 Toyota powered Super Buggy did not disappoint. Luke had a great start; held his lines, moved up the pack, and crossed the finish line in a season's best, fifth place.
"This was the best race of my PRO career," commented Luke Zoetmulder. "This AMS Performance tuned Toyota engine continues to get me off the line really well. The Hankook Tires really hooked up, no matter what the track conditions, and the buggy just ran great. Hats off to my crew, they really worked hard back at the shop and here at the track. The fifth place finish is as much about my crew, as it is about my driving. I would like to thank Harold and Scotty from Furo Racecraft for helping us again this weekend. Those guys along with Mike Brue found the final gremlin we've been chasing all season long. That allowed me to run the best race of the season. I'm looking forward to making a huge impact in 2009, now that this car is perfect!!!! Thanks guys."
The 39th annual BorgWarner Championships saw, once again, record crowds. The campground area was over booked, and the spectator numbers were estimated at 60,000 for the weekend. The large numbers of spectators were also treated to some pretty cool things at the Sticker Dude Motorsports Pit Area. For starters, a handful of Toyota vehicles participated in the annual Friday Labor Day parade and then were on display were on display all weekend long, including:
The Sticker Dude Designs 2008 Toyota Crew Max Tundra with a 12" lift kit, with all kinds of accessories, Steven Federico's 2007 TRD Supercharged Fireball Rally Edition Toyota Tundra truck, Two different showroom stock Toyota Tundras, and the Sticker Dude Designs special edition Scion tC.
While the trucks were on display, the team's sponsor display area was handing out raffle tickets for various promotional items, given away Saturday and Sunday. The response to this was overwhelming. In addition, to free logo hats, t-shirts, Frisbees, autograph cards, decals, and pens, several cases of Invisible Glass cleaner were awarded, as well. Both days, the drawings took place at 4:30 in the afternoon. The grand prize, each day, was a set of four Hankook Tires. The crowd during drawing time was so big, that the crowd blocked much of the road in front of the team's seventy foot long pit space.
The 2008 WSORR is complete, but look for Federico, O'Donnell, and Zoetmulder to get back into the shop, looking to begin preparations for the 2009 race season.