Key to Columbia is minimizing damage

July 27, 2013 

The key to winning today’s Lamb Weston Columbia Cup is going to be who gets around the Columbia River with the least amount of damage.

There seems to be two hots spots on the river: the first turn on the course on the east end near Lampson Pits; and the backstretch on the Pasco side of the river.

That rough first turn has made an impression on the drivers.

“We know it’s going to get rougher as time goes on tomorrow,” said 5 Graham Trucking driver Jimmy Shane after Saturday’s heat races. “I actually think the wakes from the A heat almost stayed there for the B heat today.”

Shane said the turn is a constantly moving, ever-changing thing.

“You can see how bad it is each time you go through it,” said Shane. “And it’s never the same condition in Turn 1. You kind of know going in what lane you’re in and hope for the best.”

In comparison, said Shane, “the upper turn is like glass. By the time the fifth boat gets through there, the wake is all gone.” Now, throw in what is the mess on the backstretch, and drivers are constantly on the lookout for danger.

“The river here on the Columbia is real nice this weekend,” said 95 Spirit of Qatar driver Kip Brown. “But you throw in six 7,000-pound boats with 3,000 horsepower apiece it’ll churn it up.”

And some drivers are fighting long rollers that run alongside the boats.

“The weird thing that gets you is the longitudinal rollers on the backside,” said Brown. “That’s the thing that’ll really upset your boat. When it’s a long, drawn out roller, one sponson sinks in and it upsets it.

“That’s the really tricky part here on the Columbia.”

FIRST SUNDAY HEATS ARE SET: Race officials held the draw Saturday afternoon for Heats 2A and 2B.

Here’s the lineup for 2A, set to start at 10:20 a.m. today: 1 Oberto, 9 Red Dot, 11 Peters & May, 22 PayneWest, 57 FEDCO and 100 Central Coast.

The lineup for 2B, which starts at 10:40 a.m.: 5 Graham, 14 DiJulio, 21 Go Fast, 37 Beacon and 95 Qatar.

MALLOW GETS A SECOND CHANCE: Driver Ryan Mallow and his 100 Central Coast Airbrush team got a second chance to race Saturday afternoon.

The team couldn’t make it out on the water for Friday qualifying, as the boat was being fixed after Mallow flipped it two weeks ago in Detroit.

The team still couldn’t get out on the water in testing Saturday morning, so at the drivers meeting Doug Brow, who is the head official for the Columbia Cup, announced that the 100 could not race because the team had already used its two commissioner’s options.

Later in the afternoon, though, H1 officials did allow Mallow to run on the course during a break. If Mallow could get one lap of 130 mph in, he could race in heat 1B.

Mallow did it.

Alas, while Mallow made it out onto the course for the heat, the boat died just before the start.

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