Jimmy Shane waited and watched the rest of the HAPO Columbia Cup field take to the Columbia River on Friday and put up some impressive qualifying speeds.
Then Shane went out in the U-6 Oberto and destroyed their marks.
Shane ripped off a lap of 163.247 mph to be the fastest qualifier heading into today’s racing.
“We’re really pleased with the way the boat is handling right now,” said Shane. “We’ve got a little more in it, but I didn’t want to ruin the equipment.”
In the morning testing session, Shane drove the boat to a legal lap of 166 mph.
“This morning was about as super-speedway as you can get,” he said. “The water was so calm.”
With 45 minutes left in qualifying, Shane and the rest of the Oberto team didn’t wait to see if anyone in Lampson Pits would respond to their mark, and they began putting in the race-day setup.
That race-day setup will get a serious test today, as Oberto will be in a loaded Heat 1A that will include The U-1 Graham Trucking and J. Michael Kelly, and the U-37 Cost Less Carpet presents Miss Beacon Plumbing with Dave Villwock.
Kelly gave catching Shane a gallant effort, but he fell short with a speed of 161.197 mph.
Given more time, Kelly thought he could’ve caught Shane.
“We needed about a third run out there,” he said.
With six boats scheduled to be in each heat today, the course will be a mess.
“I think I hit it hard in Lap 2 in qualifying,” said Kelly. “The boat got real out of shape.”
Jon Zimmerman, driving a rehabbed U-9 Les Schwab Tires-RedDOT, was third at 158.537 and agreed with Kelly.
“That last lap of qualifying, Lane 1 was a mess,” said Zimmerman. “It’s gonna be rough out there tomorrow. Like a final heat.”
But Kelly is confident the Graham team will be ready.
“There’s a 1 on this boat for a reason,” he said. “We didn’t do anything special out there. We ran 1.5 mph faster in qualifying than we did in testing. And it was the kind of setup we’d run in competition.”
Villwock, coming out of retirement this week, was an impressive fourth in qualifying at 153.927. He spent the offseason working on the 37, but not everything was finished when he hit the water.
“The gauges weren’t working,” he said. “But I wasn’t going to break the boat to prove that they were wrong.”
Villwock, in fact, came out on his second lap of the day and hit a 157.629. However, it was later deleted after an N2 violation.
Shane is still keeping an eye on Villwock and his camp.
“That speed, I wouldn’t expect anything less out of Dave,” said Shane. “I know Dave has something up his sleeve. He’s come back for a reason.”
Villwock knows he has the rest of the pits’ attention.
“I know when I ran that first lap at 128 mph, everyone was saying ‘Perfect!’” said Villwock. “But when I ran a 155 the next lap, they were saying ‘Uh, oh.’”
The rest of the field qualifying included:
The U-17 Our Gang Racing, with Jeff Bernard, at 153.191;
The U-7 Graham Trucking II, with Cal Phipps, at 152.142;
The U-21 Lakeridge Paving with driver Jamie Nilsen, at 148.652;
The gbr-11 Peters & May, with Tom Thompson, at 148.157;
The U-22 Ranch & Home presents Payne West Insurance, with Mike Webster, at 147.022;
The U-96 Spirit of Qatar, with Kip Brown, at 142.517;
And the U-12 Miss DiJulio, with Greg Hopp, at 136.105.
Kelly Stocklin never was able to get his U-18 Bucket List Racing boat off the dock, leaving the field at 11 boats today.
If Stocklin can get out on the water and hit the minimum 130 mph qualifying, he will be put into Heat 1A at 3:05 p.m., along with the Oberto, the 11, 1, 21 and 37.
Heat 1B will be at 3:35 p.m., with the 17, 96, 12, 7, 9 and 22.
The competition committee also dropped the 1-minute score-up bouy rule on Friday, allowing teams to mill around just before the start.
But it won’t matter how the race starts if Shane and Oberto are on top of their game.
They still have to be the favorite.
“I think statistically you have to put us up at the top,” said Shane. “But there are a lot more wildcards out there. That’s good though, because we can put on a show for the fans.”