2011 Lamb-Weston Columbia Cup

Dave Villwock Wins Thrilling Columbia Cup

Dave Villwock came from behind late in the final to overtake Steve David to win a thrilling Air National Guard Hydroplane Series race in Tri-Cities, Wash.

Villwock was able to break David's three consecutive race victories on the Columbia River by capping a perfect weekend that included three preliminary heat victories. The win was hardly easy for Villwock, who had the cowling blow off his boat and the turbine engine was smoking when he returned to the docks.

"We've kind of used the boat up," said Villwock with a laugh. "It looks like a top fuel car going through the lights on fire with parts throwing out of it. We'll get it back in shape for Seattle."

David got out to an early lead and the two veteran drivers were neck-and-neck for 2½ laps. But by Lap 3, Villwock, who was running on the outside, was able to chase down David and pass him. From there Villwock extended the lead and earned his seventh Lamb Weston Columbia Cup.

With the victory, Villwock earned his 64th career victory. He's the sport's all-time winningest driver after passing the sport's legendary driver Bill Muncey earlier this month at the APBA Gold Cup in Detroit.

David overcame a disastrous start on the weekend where he passed the score up buoy too early and finished last in his heat. In the next heat, he was penalized for encroaching on another driver and again finished last. He won his next heat and earned enough points to make the seven-boat final.

David was back in the driver's seat after sitting out a race because of an injury he sustained in a crash during the season opener in Madison, Ind. The team also spent nearly $100,000 repairing damage to the boat. The Oh Boy! Oberto driver was nursing sore ribs but was frustrated by his mental mistakes.

"I'm the one that messed up, they gave me a great boat all weekend," David said. "Since the rebuild, it took me a couple of heats to get used to it."

Third-place finisher Kip Brown has been perfect in the preliminary heats, winning all five heats he's competed in this season. Brown was unavailable to drive in Detroit and the team used a backup driver.

"Where we finished in the final is nothing to hang our head about," Brown said. "To finish behind those two guys, they're heavy hitters in our class, I'm happy with the weekend."

Brown is among the national high point champions in the series. He came into the Air National Guard Hydroplane Series race in Tri-Cities leading but Villwock's Spirit of Qatar was able to overtake them.

"I'm lucky to have a good team," Villwock said. "And we have a good team too."

The event in Tri-Cities reported record attendance over the three-day weekend. Organizers estimate that more than 120,000 people attended the race on the Columbia River.

The Air National Guard Hydroplane Series moves to Seattle this weekend for Seafair as the tour is in the midst of its western swing.

Top 5 Final Results for the Air National Guard Hydroplane Series in Tri-Cities

Position, driver, boat, speed

1. Dave Villwock, Spirit of Qatar, 150.422 mph
2. Steve David, Oh Boy! Oberto, 140.528 mph
3. Kip Brown, Miss Red Dot, 139.412 mph
4. Jeff Bernard, Graham Trucking, 137.338 mph
5. J Michael Kelly, Degree Men, 137.057 mph

Preliminary Heat Results for Sunday at Air National Guard Series in Tri-Cities

Heat 2A: 1. Kip Brown, 145.908 mph, 2. JW Myers, 3. Jon Zimmerman.

Heat 2B: 1. Scott Liddycoat, 147.653 mph, 2. Jeff Bernard, 3. Greg Hopp.

Heat 2C: 1. Dave Villwock, 146.776 mph, 2. J Michael Kelly, 3. Mike Webster.

Heat 3A: 1. Steve David, 146.02 mph, 2. J Michael Kelly, 3. Mike Webster.

Heat 3B: 1. Kip Brown, 144.941 mph, 2. Brian Perkins, 3. N. Mark Evans.

Heat 3C: 1. Dave Villwock, 145.393 mph, 2. Jeff Bernard, 3. Scott Liddycoat.

July 31st, 2011

[H1 Unlimited]