KENNEWICK -- If there is one guy who still has a chance to catch Steve David and Dave Villwock for the national championship, it's J Michael Kelly in the U-7 Graham Trucking.
"Hey, 500 points isn't that much," said Kelly. "I've got to finish heats, get my points. The heats that I should win, I need to win."
But if there's a favorite, Kelly says it's the U-96 and Villwock.
"Those guys are almost unbeatable," Kelly said. "We've been real consistent this season, but we need to stay out of trouble."
Last year, that didn't happen to Kelly, as he flipped his boat coming down the straightaway on the Benton County side of the river.
"There was a little bit of wind," Kelly said. "I was running on the outside, when those siderollers hit me, and the boat lifted up too much. I've just got to let it go, not think about it and move forward."
Kelly had a bigger problem Friday with a stiff neck.
"I think it was the dang pillow at the hotel," he admitted.
-- Cal Phipps, driver of the U-13 Spirit of Detroit, is from the eastern part of the United States, so he's on East Coast time.
"My Blackberry doesn't switch over here," Phipps said. "So my alarm goes off at 6:30 this morning. I called down to my crew chief and said 'I'm late. When does the last car leave for the pits?' "
"My crew chief says 'Cal, it's 3:30 in the morning.' "
-- Driver Jon Zimmerman got out of the U-37 Miss Peters & May after hitting the 150-mph mark in qualifying.
The driver's 4-year-old son, Jack, came down onto the dock and jumped into his daddy's arms. When Zimmerman was being interviewed on KONA radio, he asked his son who his favorite boat was.
The little tyke quickly answered, "Oberto."
Zimmerman said, "We have some work to do."
-- Former U-37 driver Jean Theoret was in the pits with his wife and kids.
"I came to see my friends," said the French Canadian.
Theoret flipped the U-37 last year in Madison and nearly drowned. He missed a couple races as he recovered, but he finished the season in Qatar.
However, he's not racing this season. He's concentrating on his excavation business in Montreal.
"I wanted to take the year off," said Theoret, who said he might be back next season. "But racing is a passion."
-- The agreement that Erick Ellstrom struck with Qatar's Sheikh Hassan to sponsor the U-96 stems from the technology the groups have traded.
Ellstrom supplies propellors for Sheikh's race teams in the Middle East, the offshore teams, sprint teams, etc.
"It's not just a sponsorship agreement," said Ellstrom. "It's a technology agreement too. We share a lot of information."
It's worked. The U-96 is second in the points race.
"The Qatar teams are pretty much dominating every race division they're in," said Ellstrom. "So we hope to live up to that."
His driver, Villwock, said after careful consideration, the Sheikh picked them to sponsor.
"It didn't hurt, though, that the sheikh's son pointed at our boat and said 'Daddy, I want that boat,' " said Villwock.
-- Bob Hughes joined the City of Madison's board of directors for its hydroplane in 1965.
By 1970 he was made the board's president, and he's been in that position ever since.
But until a couple of years ago, he and the small Indiana town that owns the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto have never experienced consistent winning.
Now, they're defending their national high points championship for a second straight year after taking crowns in 2008 and 2009.
"We'd like to do a three-peat," said Hughes. "But we've got to beat that U-96 team. I think (Villwock) used six new props in Detroit. But he's a good fella."
And while Oberto finished second to Villwock at the Detroit Gold Cup, Oberto did win its hometown race in Madison.
"That was quite a joy," said Hughes. "It was good for us, good for the city. And we had the biggest damn crowd I've ever seen there."
What frustrates Hughes is the lack of races.
"We probably have 12 of the best boats in the history of this sport, and we only have five races," Hughes said. "We need a Bernie Little again. He put money into each race site."
Little, of course, was the late owner of the Miss Budweiser team.
-- Phipps said driving around in the Columbia, in the U-13, there's a huge hole in the river.
"It's a huge rut and I think it comes from my wake," Phipps said. "I've never seen anything like it. You've really got to pay attention to it."
-- Al Carstensen got to run a few laps in Mike Webster's U-22 Matrix Systems boat and did well.
"These boats are bigger and heavier than what I'm used to," said Carstensen. "You've got to muscle them around. I've been dreaming of this since I was 10 years old."
-- Ted Porter wants to run the U-57 in Seattle in a few weeks, too.
"We'd have a backup boat for the U-5 and U-7, and we want to use this as a training boat for younger drivers," Porter said.
And it's likely that the affable Mark Evans will not drive it in Seattle, as Jimmy Shane is scheduled to be there.