LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. — This is why the Shootout lasts for two days.
After reigning Shootout Top Gun American Ethanol ran into engine problems on Saturday and reached a mere 143 mph (the boat ran 204 mph the last two years, and 217 mph the year before, on a longer course), Don Onken’s boat returned on Sunday ready for 200+ mph speeds. Driver Tony Battiato and throttleman John Cosker ran the boat down the course Sunday afternoon, with a speed of 201 mph at the finish line.
That will likely secure the team their fifth consecutive Shootout victory, as the next-closest racer, Ron Szolack in his Performance Boat Center Skater catamaran, hit 173 mph on Sunday morning.
But victory is never a guarantee, and the American Ethanol team was in a distant third place when racing ended Saturday.
And not long after the 201 mph run, American Ethanol headed to the course again, gunning for an even better speed, but that run ended with a major mechanical problem that could have sunk the boat, and ended its 2019 Shootout runs. Read more about what happened, here.