KENNEWICK -- The battle between the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto and the U-96 Spirit of Qatar was the main show in Saturday's final round of qualifying.
Steve David, driving the Oberto, flirted with Dave Villwock's race-leading 161.928 mph speed after the second of his three laps with a 161.754.
With one lap left, David cut the corners hard and came away with a best lap of 162.928 -- one full mph better than Villwock.
As David brought the U-1 back to the pits, he stepped out of the cockpit, raised an imaginary rifle and shot at the U-96 team a couple of times.
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His top speed lasted all of 3 minutes and 15 seconds.
As soon as David's new top speed was announced, U-96 team manager Erick Ellstrom jumped onto his boat and told Villwock, waiting inside the cockpit, what David got.
Villwock promptly went out and ripped off a lap of 163.579 mph to retake the lead.
Even though he could have run two more qualifying laps, Villwock shut the boat down and coasted back to the pits.
"Was that cool or what?" asked Ellstrom.
Villwock said the boat set-up was awesome.
"That was the race setup," he said. "That was the U.S. Open. It's like the U.S. Open, and everyone is watching you on the first tee. You just hope you hit it."
Here are today's lineups for heats 2A and 2B:
In Heat 2A, the U-37 Miss Peters & May (driver Jon Zimmerman) starts in lane 1; the U-21 Miss Albert Lee Appliance (Brian Perkins) in lane 2; the U-13 Spirit of Detroit (Cal Phipps) in lane 3; the U-17 Mis Red Dot (Nate Brown) in lane 4; the U-22 Matrix Systems (Mike Webster) in lane 5; and the U-57 Formulaboats.com (Mark Evans) outside and back in lane 6.
In Heat 2B, the U-5 Formulaboats.com (Jeff Bernard) is in lane 1; the U-100 Fleury Auto & Truck Parts (Greg Hopp) is in lane 2; the U-7 Graham Trucking (J. Michael Kelly) is in lane 3; the U-1 Oberto (David) is in lane 4; and the U-96 Spirit of Qatar (Villwock) is in lane 5.
Nate Brown is a man of mixed emotions.
On one side, he drives his U-17 Miss Red Dot.
On the other side, he owns the boat.
"I pay the bills and I drive the boat," Brown said. "Something inside me says yes-no, yes-no. I want to drive fast, but on the other hand, I know it's going to cost me more money."
One thing he does like is this race site.
"The Tri-Cities has the best race site because they give us what we asked," Brown said. "The other race sites don't."
Brown, like most boat owners, gets roughly $10,000 for racing here. But he's already spent that much on the race.
"If I break anything, I'm done," he said.
Chief referee Mike Noonan announced at the drivers meeting that while Mark Evans had only 11 of the required 15 laps at 130 mph or better to re-qualify as a driver, that would be enough.
"Your first two heats, you will race to the back and the outside," said Noonan. "Welcome back Mark. We have a handicapped sticker for your boat."
Evans, driving the U-57 Formulaboats.com, was amazed what crew chief Jim Harvey and his crew have done this weekend.
"They've done two weeks of work in two days on this thing," said Evans.
Evans, 53, uses glasses when he races nowadays.
"I need bifocals because I also need to read the gauges in the boat," he said.
He was serious.