ROCKET MAN: The Oberto/Miss Madison (above at Madison) and driver Jimmy Shane (below) posted a fast lap of 162.698 mph and a two-lap average of 162.613 as the fastest qualifier for this weekend’s APBA Gold Cup in Detroit. (Courier file photos by David Campbell)
ROCKET MAN: The Oberto/Miss Madison (above at Madison) and driver Jimmy Shane (below) posted a fast lap of 162.698 mph and a two-lap average of 162.613 as the fastest qualifier for this weekend’s APBA Gold Cup in Detroit. (Courier file photos by David Campbell)
DETROIT - Jimmy Shane picked up his second top qualifier award in as many races, driving the Oberto/Miss Madison to the top average speed for this weekend's APBA Gold Cup in Detroit.

Shane, who was fastest by nearly 4 mph last weekend at Madison in his first race with the team, outdistanced the field by more than 2 mph on Friday with a two-lap average of 162.613 mph on the Detroit River.

The mark was more than a mile per hour faster than the Oberto posted last year when then driver Steve David topped Gold Cup qualifying with a 161.370 mph average. Shane actually pushed the boat to nearly 165 in testing earlier in the afternoon.

"The boat handles like a dream. (It) starts getting a little loose when you get about the 160 average," Shane said. "I need to do my job and keep it under control and show these fans what the Oberto can do."

Jon Zimmerman was second-fastest in the Red Dot/Spirit of Qatar 96 at 160.432 mph. J. Michael Kelly was third-fastest at 159.454 aboard the Graham Trucking.

As the only other boat to run laps in the 160s, Zimmerman served notice that his runner-up finish in Madison might just have been a warmup for this weekend.

New to the cockpit of the defending national champion, Kelly won the season-opening Indiana Governor's Cup last weekend in Madison. He said he'd hoped to post a mark better than 160 mph in the Graham Trucking on Friday but is happy with the way he is adjusting to his new ride, especially after upping his average speed by several miles per hour in his final qualifying run late in the session.

"It's definitely better," Kelly said, comparing his runs Friday. "We wanted to break the 160 mark, but I'm still getting used to the boat setup and finding what's right ... It's all about props and gearbox combinations and it's a matter of finding that right setup."

After the top three speeds, the H1 Unlimited hydroplane series field slowed considerably. Cal Phipps, the only Detroit-area driver in the race, was fourth-fastest at 150.707 in the Graham Trucking II. Brian Perkins was fifth in the Al Deeby Dodge at 148.302, Mike Webster was sixth in the Performance Tool at 141.261 and Greg Hopp was seventh in the Miss DiJulio at 133.615.

Both Perkins and Webster recorded much higher speeds earlier in the qualifying session but both three-lap runs were disallowed due to N2 violations. Tom Thompson's Peters & May craft sustained damage to a gearbox and did not record an official run but the team expects to be ready for racing today.

No driver in the fleet has ever won the Gold Cup and only two of the teams have ever hoisted the oldest trophy in motorsports. If Shane should win it would not only be the Miss Madison's first GoldCup since 1971, but would make him the youngest Gold Cup winner since Chip Hanauer in 1982.

"This is a survival race as you got to make it to the final to have a chance to win the Gold Cup," Shane said. "As a child you can always dream of these things. There is a 1 in 8 chance that someone's name will go on the Gold Cup this year. I am very fortunate and we are going to take it to them."

Heat racing for the Gold Cup begins today with the first set of heats starting at 1:40 p.m. The Gold Cup final will be Sunday at 4:15 p.m.
Gold Cup Qualifying Results

Detroit River

Number/Sponsor Driver Speed Points

6 Oberto/Miss Madison Jimmy Shane 162.613 100

9 Red Dot/Spirit of Qatar Jon Zimmerman 160.432 80

1 Graham Trucking J. Michael Kelly 159.454 70

7 Graham Trucking II Cal Phipps 150.707 60

21 Miss Al Deeby Dodge Brian Perkins 148.302 50

22 Webster Racing Mike Webster 141.261 40

12 ServPro/Miss DiJulio Greg Hopp 133.836 30

11 Peters & May Tom Thompson 130 0