Jean Theoret and Jimmy Shane got credit for preliminary heat victories Saturday in the APBA HAPO Gold Cup, but the big winner was Mother Nature.
High 20 mph winds, gusting to 25 mph, hampered any attempts in the late afternoon to get a second set of heats in. And after an hour delay, race officials decided to postpone any further racing Saturday.
“Thinking of safety, we’ve got time tomorrow, and if the weather cooperates we’ll have a full set of heats,” said H1 Chairman Steve David. “We probably could have run today, but (the teams) were concerned how late its going to get. Everybody gets a chance to rest and come out at 8 o’clock. Better to put it off tomorrow in the face of safety.”
Everyone seemed to agree it was the right decision.
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“It’s too rough,” said U-96 Ellstrom Elam Plus Racing team manager Erick Ellstrom during the wait. “The waves are too big. If we went out there and raced, it would be a trainwreck. I’d rather wait until 6 p.m. tonight and race than have three (preliminary heats) on Sunday. But I’d rather run all of those races on Sunday than wreck the boat.”
That means today’s schedule has been reconfigured, and it will be busy.
Heat 2A will start at 8:30 a.m., followed by Heat 2B at 9 a.m. In all, each team that qualifies for today’s Gold Cup final (scheduled for 4:40 p.m.) will have raced at least four times today.
Theoret won Heat 1A from the get-go in the U-96, taking the inside line and never being threatened.
He had an average speed of 141.697 mph for the four laps.
During the five-minute warmup period, a number of boats kept cutting across the infield.
Theoret didn’t bother, running around the entire course.
And he still got the inside lane.
“If you’re gonna give me the inside lane, I’m going to take it,” said Theoret. “I would have cut across the course if somebody wanted it. But nobody did.”
Jimmy King in the U-3 Grigg’s presents Miss Ace Hardware outdueled Scott Liddycoat in the U-9 Les Schwab/RedDOT to take second place.
If was King’s first competitive heat in the U-3 since 2009.
“It’s a good start coming back,” said King. “We got on the outside to see what we could pick up, and second place is pretty good.”
Kevin Eacret drove his first competitive race in the U-100 Miss Carstar as the trailer boat in the heat. But he stayed persistent and finished third.
That’s because Liddycoat, who thought he had finished third, was penalized a lap and $250 for bearing out and not leaving room for Tom Thompson in the gbr-11 Peters & May.
Jesse Robertson jumped the gun in the U-7 Graham Trucking II and was penalized a lap. He finished fifth.
And Thompson got washed down in the first turn on the first lap. He was able to get the boat restarted, but he was too far behind and ended up sixth.
In Heat 1B, Jimmy Shane nailed the start from lane 2 in the U-1 Oberto to coast to victory, with an average speed of 143.441 mph.
Shane and J. Michael Kelly in the U-5 Graham Trucking played a cat and mouse game in the few minutes leading up to the start.
Both drivers cut across the infield from the Kennewick side of the river to the Pasco side. But when they got back around to the Kennewick side, Kelly cut back across the infield. Shane stayed on course and let Kelly go.
It proved to be too soon for Kelly.
“We had our timing marks,” said Shane. “We knew where we wanted to be. I saw that when Mike cut that it was too early.”
By the time he realized it was too late, Kelly had to slow down as to make sure he didn’t cross the starting line too soon. It caused him to go below the 80 mph minimum for too long and he was penalized a lap.
Kelly still felt it was the right move.
“The unfortunate thing is (H1 officials) never called us about it,” Kelly said. “Usually when you go too slow you get a warning. We never got a warning.”
Cal Phipps did a good job in his first competitive heat in the U-27 Dalton Industries and finished second. Brian Perkins in the U-21 Fasteners Inc., finished third.
Kelly was able to get fourth because Mike Webster in the U-22 PayneWest Insurance went inside a buoy and was disqualified.
It all sets up for a busy day of racing today.
“It’s going to be just an action-packed day,” said Shane. “It’ll be great for the fans.”