Team Latus Top Fuel – Woodburn, OR & Rockingham, NC – 2009

Going into the Woodburn race there are three of us close in national points. This is the second to the last race so there is no room for error. Jay Turner in 1st Sternotti is in 2nd and we are in a close 3rd. At the end of qualifying Turner was 6.589 and we were a 6.596 for # 1 & 2. Sternotti was #5 with a 6.814. We had a great pass the first round a 6.660 and came away with the win. Turner also won his first round with a 6.616. Sternotti got beat. This moves us into 2nd place. We had Schmidt the next round and as long as I got a good light we should be able to win. At the light I got a .088 to his .132 and things got better from there. By the 1/8th I had him by a few bike lengths and I figured we would win. About 1000’ the bike just died. Schmidt won by

.037 or 37 thousands of a second. Turner also went out that round so we are heading to Rockingham with Turner exactly 1 round or 20 points ahead of us and Sternotti about 7 points behind us. Schmidt won the race and now is a few rounds back but has a chance at Rockingham also. After the race when we were getting the bike ready for Rockingham we found the problem. We had not greased the pushrods and had a failure. This was just a mistake in all of us in servicing between rounds. Would like to thank the crew Mike Slonaker, Mike Stegmann and Digger. Would like to thank George Latus and Team Latus Motors for the continued support.

Now we are off for the season final at Rockingham, NC. We feel we are 100% ready. There are 18 Top Fuel bikes here. We set 3 goals going in. 1st was running a good enough number during testing on Friday that we feel good about qualifying on Saturday. The first test pass we made we spun the tire. We came back and made a large change in the clutch. Went back out and  ran a 6.589. We figured this was a great starting place.  Our second goal was to qualify at least 1 position better than Turner so we would be less than 1 round behind him. The first round ended with Turner 6.496 and Schmidt 6.504 and us 6.512. Second round Horne ran a 6.371 and we had second fastest with a 6.454. One more round to go and we knew the conditions were getting better but we decided to just make a small change and try for a 6.40 or 6.39. We ran a 6.423 and ended up # 5 and Turner ended up # 7 with a 6.486. Our third goal was to win the race. With the numbers everyone was running this was going to be no easy task. We just decided to take it one round at a time. We had Breckenridge first round and I made sure I got a good light. We won with a 6.423 to a 6.661. One down. There were 3 bikes in the 6.3s in that pass and one of them was Sternotti whom we had to race in the second round. We figured this race was actually for the championship. We decided we needed to add something. I cut a good light .059 to his .093 I never saw him again. He ran a 6.384 to our 6.291 !! This was our best pass ever and only a few hundreds from the national record. Meanwhile Turner had spun the tire both of his first 2 races but somehow still managed the win both times. It was starting to look like we may race him in the finals for the championship. In the semi finals we had Phil Schmidt who was running good this weekend. He was #1 qualifier and ran 6.3s the first 2 rounds. I knew a good light was a must. .036 and 6.370 to his .087 6.425. Then to make it even better Turner finally lost to Horne. This made us Top Fuel national champions by 1 point even if we lost the finals. “unofficially” We did not like the fact of winning by only 1 point so we decided we really needed to win the race. Horne had just run a 6.315. He is also very good on the lights. We decided to leave the bike alone as it was as it was starting to cool off. We were both very close on the lights me .043 him .036 I was by him at the 60’ and never saw him again. We won with a 6.341 to his 6.495. Now we know we are the National champions for 2009. And to win the race on top of it made for a great year. This has been the goal for 4 years. We all knew it was possible if we just kept at it. I feel like this is the ultimate comeback from the crash in 2006. Would like to thank the crew Mike Stegmann, Mike Slonaker Digger & Sonny. There are so many hours put into this program it would never be possible without their help.  Would like to thank George Latus and Team Latus Motors for the continued support that has made this possible.

Would also like to thank Ross Bentley “coach”, Jonathon Greenleaf “surgeon” and Steve Pierson “physical therapist” Without these guys I would not have had the strength physically or mentally.