The predicted top dogs went in different directions during Saturday’s heats at the Albert Lee Appliance Cup, setting up a highly anticipated Seafair Sunday of unlimited hydroplane racing.
Oh Boy! Oberto’s Steve David toyed with his competition before a second-lap surge pushed him past Beacon Plumbing driver J. Michael Kelly, earning the three-time defending champion a maximum 400 points.
Minutes later, in the second heat of the afternoon, Jimmy Shane, driving the Graham Trucking, wasn’t able to restart his boat after its bleed band went out.
Shane liked his chances going into Saturday’s heat, despite scoring just 70 points with a third-place finish in Friday’s qualifier.
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“We had the same issues we had in the Tri-Cities,” said Shane, who experienced a similar bleed band break in last weekend’s Lamb Weston Columbia Cup. “When I slowed down to make my run for the start, the motor died.”
Not able to refire the engine, Shane coasted off the racecourse, forfeiting a large sum of points in the process. Graham Trucking will have to attain at least 700 points to qualify for Sunday’s final. Shane must win at least one heat, and finish no less than second in the other for a berth in the 4:45 p.m. race.
“We really have to go into tomorrow knowing that we have to win both heats,” he said.
That possibility looks realistic. Sunday’s racing pits Shane and David in opposite heats.
David, on the other hand, has been flawless, racking up 500 points in two events.
“Perfect weekend so far, we wanted the 37 (Beacon Plumbing) inside of us to see what kind of speed we have and know what kind of change we have to make,” David said. “Every heat we want to win, but we want to progress so we can have the best setup for the final; so we’re not there yet but we’re getting there.”
David, in the Oh Boy! Oberto, allowed Kelly to maintain the inside lane for about 1½ laps, before gaining on the bright orange boat and eventually slipping past it.
Kelly, in the Miss Beacon Plumbing boat that flipped last weekend in Kennewick, was pleased to keep pace with the Oh Boy! Oberto. The Beacon Plumbing crew will continue to make adjustments to the U-37 and expects to pick up at least five additional mph during Sunday’s heats.
Heat 1B had several surprises, beginning with Shane’s troubles and culminating with lap penalties to Jon Zimmerman, in the Fox Plumbing & Heating presents Team RedDOT boat and to Kip Brown, in the Spirit of Qatar for starting too early.
That gave first- and second-place finishes to Mike Webster in the Boitano Homes presents Performance Tool boat and Jamie Nilsen, who finished his first unlimited heat in the Snoqualmie Casino boat.
“I didn’t’ know until later in the race, about the third lap, that they said it was questionable if they jumped yet,” Webster said. “I got a good clean finish on the outside and I just knew I was going to run them down but I was hoping they were over and it turns out that was the case.”
The U-14 Miss DiJulio qualified on Friday but opted out of Saturday’s racing because of a broken propeller and damaged strut. The boat will compete Sunday.
Theo Lawson: email@example.com.