A gutsy move by Steve David at the start of the final heat paid off big as the Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison driver sprinted to victory in the H1 Unlimited series race on the Columbia River Sunday in the Tri-Cities, Wash.
David perfectly timed a wide swing around the field through turn one before the start of the Lamb-Weston Columbia Cup final heat and then out-ran competitors Kip Brown and Jimmy Shane to steal lane one without jumping the starting gun.
From there, the veteran driver was untouched, leading wire-to-wir. And although David's lead was never more than a roostertail, Shane was unable to seriously threaten as the Oberto's winning speed of 147.654 mph was just five-tenths of a second faster than Shane's 147.179.
"Jimmy Shane is a great young driver and he is the future of this sport," David said. "I'm almost 60 and I don't have too many of these races left. But right now, it's the old guys who rule."
It was a move similar to the "slingshot" manuevers David has used in the past, except this time, he came from lane six and did not accelerate fully until halfway down the backstretch.
Brown, who won the APBA Gold Cup in Detroit two weeks ago aboard the Spirit of Qatar, had staked out lane one, but accelerated when he saw David making the leapfrog move and ended up getting hit with a one-lap penalty when he crossed the one-minute buoy too early.
It was an ironic end for Brown, who won the earlier Gold Cup after David was penalized for encroachment at the start of that race's final heat.
"It's disappointing. I thought I was legal and my radio man thought I was legal," said Brown, who spent the entire five-minute period before the start camped in lane one in an effort to grab the inside track around the 2.5-mile Columbia River course. "It's devastating because you beat yourself to death for nothing."
Even with Brown's penalty, David still needed to cross the field in order to grab the inside lane. And he needed a five-boat length lead to do so.
He got the lead by mashing on the gas. The Oberto took off like a shot midway through the backstretch and David quickly crossed over to lane one.
"We put in the acceleration package and it paid off," David said. "I was able to get the overlap on Kip and Jimmy and take the lane."
Shane, who was in lane two at the time, settled for lane three. But, more importantly, he had a boat between him and David - a difference that proved crucial.
"I'm not sure (David) had the room to get over but it is what it is," Shane said. "We had a good weekend and that's something that we need to build on."
Shane ended up finishing second aboard the Graham Trucking while Jon Zimmerman won a sprint to the line in the Team Red Dot to take third place away from Mark Evans in the FEDCO. Tom Thompson was fifth in the Peters & May, rookie Jamie Nilsen was sixth in the Go Fast, Turn Left Racing from the trailer position and Brown settled for seventh.
David and Shane drew away from each other in the first two preliminary heats and both scored a pair of wins. Shane then grabbed lane one in Heat 3A and held off David for a win in their only other head-to-head matchup while Brown picked up the win in Heat 3B.
The race was marred by a pair of spectacular blowovers on Sunday that saw two different boats complete full flips in the air.
The Miss Beacon Plumbing completed two revolutions in the air before crashing right-side up during Heat 2B. Driver J. Michael Kelly was uninjured but the boat suffered serious-enough damage that the team pulled out the pits early for the return trip to Seattle to begin repairs in their boat shop ahead of next weekend's Seattle Seafair.
"I'm all right. I feel terrible that the guys are going to have to spend this next week repairing the boat," said Kelly, who was checked at the race course and did not go to the hospital. "We lost a prop, but we are not sure when. We could have lost it at impact. The boat got light. I had full canard, but I couldn't do anything else. I closed my eyes because I thought I would get hurt on this one. Fortunately, I didn't."
The other blowover involved the Leland Unlimited team that also flipped at Detroit two weeks ago.
Driver Kelly Stocklin went airborne in the craft, which was sponsored by Central Coast Airbrush, in Heat 3B, landing hard on its transom. Like Kelly, Stocklin was uninjured, but the boat was so badly damaged it nearly sank in the Columbia River while being towed back to the dock.
The flip was just the coda to what was an interesting weekend for the Leland Unlimited team. Driver Ryan Mallow abruptly resigned from the team on Sunday and Stocklin was pressed into service roughly 30 minutes before the start of Heat 2A.
Mallow, who took over after Greg Hopp was fired last season, announced his resignation on Facebook.
"The direction of this program is headed in a different direction than I had envisioned, on many levels," Mallow said. "There is a lot more I could say, but it won't change anything. The support from key people in this sport, regarding this decision, has been overwhelming and positive and I feel I am making the best decision for my racing career."
The win was the 18th of David's Unlimited racing career, moving him into sole possession of sixth-place on the career wins list. Only Dave Villwock (67), Bill Muncey (62), Chip Hanauer (61), Dean Chenoweth (25) and Jim Kropfeld (22) have more wins at the Unlimited level than David.
It was also the 20th win for Miss Madison Racing, including the 13th since the current hull was debuted in 2007. It was also the team's fourth win in the past six years at Tri-Cities, earning the team the right to set up under "Bernie's Tree," the large oak shade tree at the end of the pits that is named for former Miss Budweiser owner Bernie Little.
"The important thing is that we get to be under Bernie's Tree next year," David said with a smile. "This team works too hard not to get that honor."
The win allowed David to widen his series points lead over Shane if by the narrowest of margins. David entered Tri-Cities with a 183-point lead over the Graham Trucking driver and leaves the Columbia River leading Shane by 233 points - the margin he outscored Shane by in Friday's qualifying.
Through four of the series' seven races, David has scored 6,315 points to Shane's 6,082. Zimmerman remains third in the points but saw his lead over fourth place Brown shrink by 11 points as Zimmerman stands at 5,087 to Brown's 3,814.
The series will now travel the 215 miles northwest across Washington state to Seattle where the series will contest the Albert Lee Cup at Seafair next weekend on Lake Washington.
David is the defending champion at Seafair while Shane has been runner-up of the event two years running.
CAREER WINS & WINS LEADERS
CITY OF MADISON (20 wins)
June 27 - Guntersville (Ala.), Miss Madison, Buddy Byers
July 4 - Madison (Ind.), Miss Madison, Jim McCormick*
July 25 - Tri-Cities (Wash.), Miss Madison, Jim McCormick
May 22 - Lake-of-the-Ozarks (Mo.), Miss Rich Food Plan, Ron Snyder
Sept. 19 - San Diego (Calif.), Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, Mike Hanson
July 8 - Madison (Ind.), Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
June 26 - Evansville (Ind.), Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
Aug. 5 - Seattle (Wash.), Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
Sept. 16 - San Diego (Calif.), Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
July 27 - Tri-Cities (Wash.), Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
July 26 - Tri-Cities (Wash.), Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
July 4 - Madison (Ind.), Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
July 25 - Tri-Cities (Wash.), Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
Aug. 4 - Seattle (Wash.), Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
July 3 - Madison (Ind.), Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
Aug. 7 - Seattle (Wash.), Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
Aug. 5 - Seattle (Wash.), Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
Sept. 16 - San Diego, Calif., Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
June 2 - Sacramento, Calif., Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
July 28 - Tri-Cities (Wash.), Oh Boy! Oberto, Steve David
Steve David (18)
May 30 - Lewisville (Tex.), Miss T-Plus
Oct. 24 - Honolulu (Hi.), Miss T-Plus
June 18 - Kansas City (Mo.), Miss T-Plus
July 8 - Madison (Ind.), Oh Boy! Oberto
June 26 - Evansville (Ind.), Oh Boy! Oberto
Aug. 5 - Seattle (Wash.), Oh Boy! Oberto
Sept. 16 - San Diego (Calif.), Oh Boy! Oberto
July 27 - Tri-Cities (Wash.), Oh Boy! Oberto
July 26 - Tri-Cities (Wash.), Oh Boy! Oberto
July 4 - Madison (Ind.), Oh Boy! Oberto
July 25 - Tri-Cities (Wash.), Oh Boy! Oberto
Aug. 4 - Seattle (Wash.), Oh Boy! Oberto
July 3 - Madison (Ind.), Oh Boy! Oberto
Aug. 7 - Seattle (Wash.), Oh Boy! Oberto
Aug. 5 - Seattle (Wash.), Oh Boy! Oberto
Sept. 16 - San Diego, Calif., Oh Boy! Oberto
June 2 - Sacramento, Calif., Oh Boy! Oberto
July 28 - Tri-Cities (Wash.), Oh Boy! Oberto
TOP 10 VICTORIES
1. Bernie Little, 134
2. Bill Muncey, 29
2. a-Ellstrom Family, 28
4. Ole Bardahl, 27
4. Joe & Lee Schoenith, 27
6. Dave Heerensperger, 25
7. Fran Muncey, 24
8. a-City of Madison, Ind., 20
9. Willard Rhodes, 18
10. Fred Leland, 17
1. Dave Villwock, 67
2. Bill Muncey, 62
3. Chip Hanauer, 61
4. Dean Chenoweth, 25
5. Jim Kropfeld, 22
6. a-Steve David, 18
7. Billy Schumacher, 17
8. Ron Musson, 16
8. Tom D'Eath, 16
10. Chuck Thompson, 15
Columbia Cup Preliminary Heats H1 UNLIMITED 2013 LAMB WESTON COLUMBIA CUP
Kennewick, Wash., Columbia River
Length: 2.5 miles
Saturday, Heat 27
1. Jimmy Shane, 5 Graham Trucking, 145.172; 2. Jon Zimmerman, 9 Team Red Dot, 142.351; 3. N. Mark Evans, 57 FEDCO, 138.217; 4. Tom Thompson, 11 Peters & May; 5. Brian Perkins, 21 Go Fast, Turn Left Racing, 125.353.
1. Steve David, 1 Oh Boy! Oberto, 148.313; 2. Kip Brown, 95 Spirit of Qatar, 145.822; 3. J. Michael Kelly, 37 Miss Beacon Plumbing, 143.438; 4. Greg Hopp, 14 Miss DiJulio, 128.152; 5. Mike Webster, 22 PayneWest Insurance, 108.128; Ryan Mallow, 100 Central Coast Airbrush, DNS.
Sunday, July 28
1. Steve David, 1 Oh Boy! Oberto, 142.222; 2. Jon Zimmerman, 9 Team Red Dot, 139.456; 3. Tom Thompson, 11 Peters & May, 135.242; 4. N. Mark Evans, 57 FEDCO, 134.265; 5. Mike Webster, 22 PayneWest Insurance, 125.718; Kelly Stocklin, 100 Central Coast Airbrush, DSQ.
1. Jimmy Shane, 5 Graham Trucking, 147.377; 2. Kip Brown, 95 Spirit of Qatar, 140.043; 3. Brian Perkins, 22 Go Fast, Turn Left Racing, 136.331; 4. Greg Hopp, 14 Miss DiJulio, 134.234; J. Michael Kelly, 37 Miss Beacon Plumbing, DSQ.
1. Jimmy Shane, 5 Graham Trucking, 148.670; 2. Steve David, 1 Oh Boy! Oberto; 147.869; 3. Jon Zimmerman, 9 Team Red Dot, 137.557; 4. Brian Perkins, 21 Go Fast, Turn Left Racing, 128.028; 5. Greg Hopp, 14 Miss DiJulio, 130.553.
1. Kip Brown, 95 Spirit of Qatar, 144.378; 2. Tom Thompson, 11 Peters & May, 142.134; 3. N. Mark Evans, 57 FEDCO, 140.934; 4. Mike Webster, 22 PayneWest Insurance, no speed; Kelly Stocklin, 100 Central Coast Airbrush, DSQ.
(no speeds available)
1. Brian Perkins, 21 Go Fast, Turn Left Racing; 2. Greg Hopp, 14 Miss DiJulio; 3. Mike Webster, 22 PayneWest Insurance.