Jimmy Shane wins Lamb Weston Columbia Cup final | Hydroplanes
Jimmy Shane, driving the U-5 Graham Trucking, won the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup hydroplane final in Kennewick.
Seattle Times staff reporter
SeafairFriday: Qualifying, 2:50 p.m.
Saturday schedule: Unlimited Heats 1A (3:10 p.m.), 1B (3:30 p.m.) and 1C (4:05 p.m.)
Sunday schedule: Unlimited Heats 2A (10:25 a.m.), 2B (10:40 a.m.) and 2C (10:55 a.m.); Heats 3A (12:10 p.m.) and 3B (12:30 p.m.); Provisional Heat (2:55 p.m.); Albert Lee Cup H1 Unlimited Final (4:45 p.m.).
Tickets: Friday: General admission free; reserved grandstand $20; Saturday and Sunday: Reserved grandstand $40; general admission $25 advance and $30 at the gate for adults, $10 for age 65-over and youth ages 6-12. Pass for both Saturday-Sunday, $30.
KENNEWICK — It was one of the closest finishes in unlimited hydroplane history.
It was also among the more confusing, even to winner Jimmy Shane driving the U-5 Graham Trucking.
"When I came across the start-finish line, I didn't know what happened," he said. "I couldn't tell you what was going on."
What happened was that Shane beat J. Michael Kelly and the U-37 Miss Beacon Plumbing to the finish line of the winner-take-all final to capture the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup on the Columbia River on Sunday.
"Couldn't have even been a boat length," said Shane, 26, of Havre de Grace, Md.
"It was about a foot," Kelly said. "It's tough to lose by a foot."
Shane's average lap speed was 144.694 mph, compared with 144.462 for Kelly.
Each spent the heat chasing after Steve David and the Oh Boy! Oberto, and the thousands watching onshore likely thought they were seeing David get his first victory of the season.
But David had been assessed a one-lap penalty for reaching the score-up buoy in the first turn prior to one minute before the start.
David disagreed, saying he thought he hit it right at one minute, and later said he wished the sport had instant replay so it could be reviewed. Despite the penalty, he decided to keep running hard and was decidedly in front of the pack throughout.
"It didn't matter (about the penalty)," he said. "I was going to show what we had."
Kelly and Shane also knew what they had — a rare chance to win. Kelly has won once in a career that dates to 2004 and Shane, in his first full year on the circuit, had never won.
Adding to the opportunity, prerace favorite Dave Villwock and the Spirit of Qatar — winner of the first two races of the season — wasn't a factor after getting washed down in the prerace milling to determine lanes. Villwock took on the water when he tried to split Kelly and Shane at about the same time David was getting his penalty.
Villwock, who earlier blew an engine as part of a frustrating day, got the boat restarted but was too far back and didn't make a serious run. He placed third, thanks in part to David's penalty.
"It was just one of those things where things just weren't quite going our way and then when it flamed out at the wrong time, it just figured," Villwock said.
Kelly had a slight lead leaving the corner of the final turn but Shane passed him on the outside.
"I could see him coming," Kelly said. "He had more momentum and I hit a huge hole (in the water)."
• Villwock leads the season points race with 4,600 and David is second with 4,410.
• The circuit heads to Seattle for Sunday's Albert Lee Cup at Seafair on Lake Washington.