Mark Tate made a clean sweep of the Columbia Cup on Sunday.
Not only did the second-year driver pilot the Winston Eagle to its second victory of the season, but for the second race in a row he prevailed in a collision with Scott Pierce in the Miss Budweiser. The two boats also collided in the Indiana Governor's Cup in Madison on July 7.
An afternoon that had been punctuated by controversy and angry confrontations came to an abrupt halt when the U-6 Kellogg's Frosted Flakes-Miss Madison driven by Mike Hanson did a slow roll and ended bottom side-up during the fourth lap of the championship final.
Rescue drivers pulled Hanson out of the boat bruised but not seriously hurt.
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Because the race was well past the halfway point, officials declared the Winston Eagle the winner. The Winston's fastest lap was 137.719 mph.
Hanson was taken to Kennewick General Hospital, where he was treated for minor bumps and bruises and released.
The Budweiser, however, didn't fare as well in its confrontation with the Winston prior to Heat 2A.
"This is the second time this has happened," said a visibly upset Pierce. "The first time you can figure it's an accident, but after the second time you have to think something's wrong.
"Chip Hanauer didn't drive like that, Tom D'Eath didn't drive like that and Scott Pierce doesn't drive like that. We're letting him get away with bloody murder. Tate should be disqualified.
Tate's version of the collision, which happened going into turn No. 2 on a parade lap prior to the start of heat 2A, differed sharply from Pierce's account.
"We agreed at the driver's meeting Saturday that for safety reasons because of the rough water in that area to delay making our turns. Everybody went along in the first heat, but then they changed," Tate said.
"The officials said that because it was a gentleman's agreement it couldn't be enforced and that I should have adapted. However, I didn't see the Miss Bud until we collided," he said.
Race officials penalized the Winston one lap and fined Tate $300 for veering out of his lane.
The Bud's left side was damaged extensively from bow to stern.
However, after a rush repair job by the Miss Budweiser crew under the direction of Ron Brown, the boat was able to complete the afternoon.
Miss Bud owner Bernie Little was upset. "It effectively put us out of the race. "It effectively put us out of the race. It'll cost us thousands of dollars to repair the damage in addition to losing points. All Tate is penalized is one lap and fined $300.
"The way things are going, if I had a duck it would have drowned."
The penalty dropped the Winston from first to fifth place in the heat. The U-50 Pepsi American Spirit was declared the heat winner.
Ironically, the incident could possibly have been avoided had it not been for a mixup on lane assignments.
Initially, the Miss Bud drew lane 2 and the Winston was in lane 3. However, due to faulty communications between race officials, the boats were switched.
Had the Budweiser been inside, it's possible the collision wouldn't have happened.
Winston, however, came back to win heat 3A, which coupled with its earlier victory in heat 1A was enough to put it in the championship final.
The Miss Budweiser and the Pepsi American Spirit were the other two boats from the fast boat heat to advance to the final.
In the slow boat heats, the U-2 Miss T-Plus driven by Steve David and the U-3 Oh Boy! Oberto-Beef with Mitch Evans at the controls ran first and second respectively in all three heats to gain berths in the finals.
The sixth and final spot in the final went to Kellogg's Frosted Flakes-Miss Madison as a result of its victory in the last chance heat.
The Winston was leading by approximately 20 lengths when the Kellogg's Frosted Flakes flipped to bring the heat to an end.
"This was a terrific win for us," said Winston Eagle owner Steve Woomer. "Not only is it our first ever win in our home state, but it enabled us to gain some valuable points on the Budweiser in the national high-point standings."
After Sunday's Columbia Cup, the Winston trails Budweiser by 210 points, 2,608 to 2,398.
The Winston Eagle picked up 523 points to the Miss Bud's 406. The Miss T-Plus had 294, the U-8 Super Range Golf 260, the U-50 American Spirit 210, and U-3 Oh Boy! Oberto-Beef 146.
The circuit now moves to Seattle for the Seafair Rainier Cup. Qualifying starts Thursday.