Jeff here again.
Just ran into Erick Ellstrom near the U-1 Elam camp.
He was munching on an ice cream cone and enjoying the down time as the unlimiteds aren't on the water.
His driver, Dave Villwock, went out and ran a lap of 161.085 mph.
"I think last year we ran a 166 or 167 here," said Ellstrom. "If we were in the midst of a championship, then it would be a different story. But we're just cycling all of the motors through the boat."
Qualifying speed really doesn't matter that much anymore. You get no points for it, and if your team shows up, you're in the race anyways whether you get out on the water and qualify or not. Ellstrom said the Columbia River is the best course -- at least for his team -- to make a season debut.
"You have two even turns. It's a 2 1/2-mile course. The conditions are usually perfect here. There are a gazillion fans here to watch."
Meanwhile, Ellstrom is slightly limping after suffering a broken foot during his son's soccer practice.
"I didn't want to wear a walking cast," he said. "I tried the crutches, but they made my armpits hurt worse than my foot does."