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Kelly captures H1 Unlimited hydro season opener; Renton's Shane dropped to fourth
For the Reporter
In his first race as driver of the hometown favorite 6 Oberto/Miss Madison, Renton's Jimmy Shane came within a half-boat length of a perfect weekend and a trip to the top of the podium.
Shane, the reigning high-point national champion, jumped the start and was penalized, allowing Bonney Lake's J. Michael Kelly in the 1 Graham Trucking to take the season-opening Madison Regatta Indiana Governor's Cup on Sunday.
After topping the qualifying rounds and winning all three of his preliminary heats on the Ohio River, Shane won the battle for the inside at the start of the winner-take-all final heat with Kelly and Jon Zimmerman in the Red Dot/Spirit of Qatar in lanes two and three.
Shane had a slight lead at the start and that proved to be his undoing. The video replay showed the start line in the center of the boat as the clock hit zeroes. Shane led all five laps of the final but the infraction at the start dropped him back to fourth place behind Kelly, Zimmerman and Cal Phipps in the 7 Graham Trucking, who finished in that order.
Jamie Nilsen in the 21 GoFastTurnLeftRacing had earned a spot in the front row of the final but failed to make a start.
Throughout the day, the Ohio River took a toll on the boats and drivers, with Kelly explaining, "The first turn was the roughest turn I have ever raced through. At one point it knocked the boat out of shape and knocked the wind out of me. I had to recover physically as well as getting the boat straightened out."
Speaking of the start, Kelly said, "I was on my marks and Jimmy was ahead of me, so I knew he would have to back down a little. He did but I guess it wasn't quite enough."
Kelly said he was informed of the infraction on Shane about halfway through the five-lap heat but didn't want to slow down too much, knowing that Zimmerman and Phipps were right behind him.
H1 Unlimited Chairman Sam Cole congratulated the race teams for running a great race in tough conditions and fitting the racing into one day, a format Cole has championed with the race sites.
"We started racing at 11 a.m. Sunday and were finished about 4:30," Cole said. "We had a great crowd, and they got to see all the racing in a little over five hours. I want to thank the Madison Regatta for helping us to show this format can work and is great for the fans."
The H1 fleet will pack up and move on to the Detroit River for the APBA Gold Cup on July 11-13.
The series comes to the Tri-Cities on July 25-27 and Lake Washington for Seafair on Aug. 1-3.