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David cruises past Port Orchard’s Villwock to win Seafair
SEATTLE – Dave Villwock was in his customary spot on the awards stand to accept a trophy.
It just was not for winning the final heat Sunday during the Albert Lee Cup at Seafair.
Instead, the South Kitsap graduate, who is the winningest driver in the history of Unlimited Hydroplanes, was left to accept an award for the fastest qualifying time – a feat he has achieved at all four stops on the circuit this season – after finishing third in the final heat. Steve David piloted the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto to the Seafair trophy on Lake Washington for a third consecutive year.
“We just got run into and run over a few times,” Villwock said. “Sometimes that is the way it goes.”
U-5 Graham Trucking driver Jimmy Shane, who won the Columbia Cup in the Tri-Cities last week, finished second while Villwock followed in the U-96 Spirit of Qatar. He captured that position when U-37 Miss Beacon Plumbing driver J. Michael Kelly was assessed a one-lap penalty.
Shane and Villwock both slowed down directly before the one-minute buoy in an effort to take the inside lanes. David, who was assessed a one-lap penalty for a false start in the Tri-Cities that allowed Shane to win, did not back off his strategy. He hit the one-minute buoy at full speed, which gave him enough of an advantage to take the inside lane. David said he was confident that if he did not “mess up” the timing, he would win.
“You have to wait to see if all the big guys are going to make a commitment and be up there really early,” he said. “Once they make the commitment, they can't unmake it.”
Villwock has not won Seafair – a course he has been victorious on a record 10 times – since 2009. He suggested that his hull, which struggled through engine problems en route to a third-place finish in the Tri-Cities, had similar issues at Seafair.
“It didn’t seem like we had the power,” Villwock said. “It was cutting out at times.”
In a sense, it was a double setback for Villwock, who began the season with wins in Madison, Ind., and Detroit. Villwock had a 190-point advantage in the National Air Guard Series High Points standings entering the weekend, but David and the Oberto left Seattle with 5,817 points. Villwock and the Qatar have 5,620 points with races remaining in September in San Diego and January in Doha, Qatar.
David, 58, has contemplated retirement, but after joining Villwock and the late Bill Muncey as the only drivers to three-peat at Seafair, he told the crowd to expect him back next year.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” David said. “There’s a tremendous rivalry there (with Villwock), but there’s tremendous respect.”