Jimmy Shane is often reminded these days, how much is at stake when he takes the Graham Trucking boat out for a ride.
At 27 years old, the wide-eyed Shane has his sights set on two things at the Albert Lee Appliance Cup: Steve David and Steve David’s boat, the Oh Boy! Oberto.
Shane has been given opportunity after opportunity to beat the man — and someday he might get an opportunity to claim the boat when David, the winner of the past three Albert Lee Appliance Cups retires.
“There’s a lot of people looking at Steve and thinking about that ride,” said Shane, after a third-place finish at Friday’s qualifier during a misty day of hydroplane racing on Lake Washington. “It’s some of the best equipment, if not the best equipment, in the fleet. A lot of people are going to be gunning for that when he does retire, whether it’s this year, next year. It’s coming. People know it’s coming.”
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David, the National High Points leader, dashed some of those hopes earlier this week.
“At some point you’ve got to call it quits, but right now I’m having way too much fun to stop,” David said.
David, 60, is a seasoned veteran in the 11-boat competition. In Unlimited racing, experience equals trickery and trickery equals success.
That success continued when the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto posted the top speed during Friday’s qualifying, clocking 152 mph to earn a maximum 100 points.
Kip Brown and the U-95 Spirit of Qatar boat came in behind David, and Shane slipped into third place, clocking in at 148 mph. Shane seemingly had the second spot, but on the last lap of the day, Brown recorded a speed of 149 mph.
Many expect to see David and Shane, who is second in the point standings, to be neck-and-neck heading into the final stretch on Lake Washington in Sunday’s final. The image of David cruising to yet another victory in the Tri-Cities hasn’t vanished for Shane, who was second in that race.
“We definitely learned a lot in the final there about how we have to more protect and defend our position,” Shane said. “Steve kind of maybe played his last hand at (the) kind of trickery you can do before the start. We’re going to adjust and make sure none of that happens this weekend.”
Shane and the Graham Trucking team haven’t necessarily put themselves in a hole heading into Saturday’s heats, but Friday’s results were deemed mediocre by a team expecting much more come Sunday.
Grabbing the inside lane and maintaining position will be at the top of Shane’s to-do list should he and David be drawn into the same heat Saturday afternoon, and Shane has every intention of countering his opponent’s experience with mind games.
“Hopefully I can try and get in his head a little bit, some in the warm-up area and then after we beat him get even more in his head throughout the weekend,” Shane said. “All that should hopefully translate coming into the final with a good mindset of not knowing what we’re going to do, making sure that we stay ahead of him.”
In other news Friday, the FEDCO boat, driven by Mark Evans, failed to record a time and J. Michael Kelly’s Miss Beacon Plumbing did not run.
Theo Lawson: email@example.com.