Order of finish (FINAL HEAT)
1st - U-1 Miss Budweiser T6 - 134.676
2nd - U-2 Freddie's Club Casinos - 126.906
3rd - U-10 York - 125.014
4th - U-8 Llumar - 114.267
5th - U-3 Master Tire - 106.700
6th - U-9 WABX - 96.853 (gun jump penalty)
U-100 Zenetics - DQ - N2 violation
Order of finish Heat 3B
1st - U-1 Miss Budweiser - 137.640
2nd - U-10 York - 134.329
3rd - U-2 Freddie's Club Casinos - 133.347
4th - U-9 WABX - 120.482
5th - U-3 Master Tire - 107.358
Order of finish Heat 3A
1st - U-100 Zenetics - 128.938
2nd - U-8 Llumar - 126.404
3rd - U-5 Appian - 124.826
DQ - U-25 Freei - N2 V
Order of finish Heat 2B
1st - U-10 York - 138.359
2nd - U-2 Freddie's Club - 133.861
3rd - U-9 WABX - 126.846
4th - U-6 Miss Madison - 119.161
5th - U-5 Appian Jeronimo - 110.471
Order of finish Heat 2A
1st - U-1 Miss Budweiser - 136.639
2nd - U-100 Zenetics - 134.374
3rd - U-8 Llumar Window Film - 129.349
4th - U-25 Miss Freei - 112.913
5th - U-3 Master Tire - 112.073
Order of finish Heat 1B
1st - U-9 WABX - 130.182
2nd - U-5 Appian Jeronimo - 122.023
3rd - U-25 Miss Freei - 115.628
4th - U-2 Freddie's Club Casinos - 94.485
DNF - U-3 Master Tire
Order of finish Heat 1A
1st - U-1 Miss Budweiser - 135.135
2nd - U-100 Zentix - 132.964
3rd - U-6 Miss Madison - 128.342
4th - U-10 York Heating and Air Conditioning - 122.699
5th - U-8 Llumar Window Film - 118.265
Miss Bud driver keeps the pressure off
By GORDON ENGELHARDT, Courier & Press staff writer
Dave Villwock is part of a team that is about as perfect as the unlimited hydroplane laws allow.
“There is so much talent on this team, some drivers are intimidated by all the perfection that surrounds them,” said Villwock, who drove Miss Budweiser to a speed of 155.858 mph on Friday. “I look at it as an asset.”
He was the fastest among seven qualifiers over Thunder on the Ohio’s two-mile course.
Villwock downplayed Miss Bud owner Bernie Little's reputation as a demanding taskmaster, a man who expects his team to not only win the final at each race site, but each heat as well as qualifying the fastest.
“I deal with pressure by not even applying it,” Villwock said. “I put a certain amount of pressure on myself. Bernie's genius is through years and years he keeps looking for the best people, people who have the ability to pull a win out. One by one, he's put together our team.”
Villwock is the only driver to win four consecutive Thunder races; he drove PICO American Dream to victory in 1996 and Miss Bud the past three seasons.
“'I think I like it here because I like the people,” Villwock said. “I'm real comfortable. The course sets up better and the water is better than most. It requires precision. In Detroit and Seattle, it's concentration and anticipation.” Thunder on the Ohio is a two-mile tri-oval in which boats are turning at least slightly most of the course, with the exception of the two straightaways.
“I really wanted to win here last year because Muncey and Hanauer had won three and nobody had won four times in a row,” Villwock said. “It will be tougher because they've handicapped us with the restriction.”
Because Villwock won the season-opening race in May at Lake Havasu, Ariz., Miss Bud's fuel flow is restricted to 4.2 gallons per minute (GPM) compared to the other turbine-powered competitors’ 4.3 GPM. Ed Cooper Jr.’s piston-powered Master Tire has no restrictions.
Villwock said the restriction takes away approximately seven to eight mph from Miss Bud. The restriction is in place for all of qualifying, each heat and Sunday’s final.
While Villwock thrived despite the restriction, five boats were nailed for an N2 violation. Their qualifying speed was knocked down to 130 mph, the minimum qualifying speed for turbine-powered boats. An N2 violation refers to an engine’s RPM speed.
"When Ray Evernham and Jeff Gordon won so much, people were booing,” Villwock said. “It's like they were too good.
"Then you ask, ‘What happened? They have the same car and the same driver.’ ”
What happened was Evernham, Gordon’s crew chief, left the team midway through last season and Gordon suddenly became just another driver.
''What we have with boats is pretty much the same thing,” Villwock said. “We've been doing a better job of racing and communicating.
“Granted, we have a little more chrome on the trailer, but that's not why we win races." Yet Miss Bud’s big bucks certainly don’t hurt.
Villwock has won seven straight races overall, dating to last season. Bill Muncey holds the record, with nine consecutive wins. Muncey won the last two races in 1978 and the first seven in ’79.
What’s scary for Miss Bud’s competitors is Villwock qualified the new T-6 on Friday for the first time.
“The new boat is a piece of art, inside and out,” he said. “I feel real confident in how the new boat runs.”
He said it’s even faster than the old Miss Bud.
“We put some little things in there that added up to some mph,” Villwock said. “I have zero apprehension about the new boat, but it will be a challenge adjusting to what is happening with it.”
Final Qualifying Results
U-1 Miss Budweiser, Dave Villwock 155.858
U-2 Freddie's Club, Mark Tate 149.966
U-10 York, Mark Weber 147.672
U-100 Znetix, Greg Hopp 146.202
U-9 WABX, Mike Hanson 145.317
U-8 Llumar Window Film, Jimmy King 143.444
U-5 Appian Jeronimo, George Stratton 142.588
U-6 Miss Madison, Charley Wiggins 141.027
U-25 Miss Freei, Ken Muscatel 130.000
U-3 Master Tire, Mitch Evans 122