It’s a four-peat! American Ethanol is the Shootout Top Gun again, thanks to a blisteringly fast 204 mph run at the 2018 Shootout.

The boat topped out at 204 mph in its third run on Saturday, after battling multiple issues in its initial run that resulted in a 189 mph finish. That still would have been enough to win the weekend, as the next-fastest boat, Tony Chiaramonte’s DCB M-35, made its high-water mark at 168 mph. But the American Ethanol team and owner Don Onken knew the boat had plenty more.

That first run had a rough start thanks to a propeller “blowout” (when the prop loses its grip underwater and essentially starts just blowing water rather than pushing the boat) at the beginning and a loose overhead hatch that caused a momentary slowdown mid-course. Those are easily resolved by more gradual throttle action and, well, latching the upper hatch.

In its next run, the boat hit 198 mph. Still not enough.

So Onken and his crew spent awhile coaxing the boat’s four engines at Captain Ron’s docks, with an occasional roar keeping spectators on their toes.

Then they made their final run of the day—and the weekend—to hit 204 mph. That tied their 2017 winning speed, which also happened to be the record on the shortened, 3/4-mile course. Could the boat have bested last year’s speed? It seems likely, but the American Ethanol crew did not race again. SpeedOnTheWater.com reported the boat had a blower belt issue at the end of that 204 mph run, and the team opted to call it a weekend.

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