Gold Cup top qualifier Jimmy Shane and Miss HomeStreet. (H1 photo Chris Denslow)
Gold Cup top qualifier Jimmy Shane and Miss HomeStreet. (H1 photo Chris Denslow)
Special to the Courier

sports@madisoncourier.com

DETROIT — For the second consecutive race, U-1 Miss HomeStreet/Miss Madison driver Jimmy Shane put the team’s brand-spanking new boat on top of the H1 Unlimited qualifying ladder. Now all there is left to do is go out and back that up with a second consecutive APBA Gold Cup championship this weekend on the Detroit River.

Shane qualified Friday for the 102nd Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers Gold Cup with a top two-lap average of 162.256 mph on the 2.72-mile Detroit River course just east of downtown Detroit. He was also the top qualifier earlier this month at Seattle with a top speed of 153.846 mph on Lake Washington’s 2-mile course.

“We ran about the same speed as last year, but we were running a bit more conservative this year, so that is a good sign,” Shane said. “I wanted to show everyone what this new boat has in her. It gets light on its feet and it gets me through that corner like I have never gotten through the Roostertail Turn before.”

Shane maneuvered Detroit’s long straightaways and series-tightest Roostertail Turn with ease but it still wasn’t fast enough to break the course record set last year by Andrew Tate and the U-9 Delta/Realtrac at 163.141 mph.

Tate, who considers Detroit his home course, posted the second fastest average Friday at 157.636 mph. He was also second fastest in the previous event at Seattle but still managed to come out on top in the winner-take-all Albert Lee Cup final for his series leading third victory of the season.

“We can make some adjustments to the boat but mainly we need adjustments in the cockpit,” Tate said, shouldering the blame. “I am not totally thrilled with the performance of myself, the boat is fast as always but we are always looking for ways to go faster.”

Tate’s first of two qualifying runs included a scary moment when his boat became airborne in front of the Detroit Yacht Club before quickly settling back on the water. It was about as close to a blow-over as Tate wants to experience.

“We ran a 158 (mph) when we got hung up in the air (nearly blowing over) for a minute,” Tate said. “I just have to be more consistent with my driving.

“I saw it coming when it was in my face,” Tate said of his near takeoff from the water.

Shane said Tate’s near blow-over sent a message to the other teams in the pits, adding that “water conditions are a bit unpredictable here on the Detroit River.”

When asked about Shane’s speed and boat ride, Tate, who drives the oldest boat in the fleet, smiled. “Jimmy obviously likes his new toy. It seems to be performing pretty well.”

Shane is the defending Gold Cup champion but Tate also won on the Detroit River last year when the site hosted two points races on back-to-back days with Tate winning the Presidents Cup on Saturday and Shane taking the Gold Cup on Sunday. Tate also leads the 2018 National High Points race by 1,998 points over Shane.

The third fastest qualifier was another Michigan driver, Jimmy King, who ran a 156.713 mph average in the U-3 Roostertail. Tom Thompson and the U-11 J&D’s qualified fourth fastest at 151.626 mph after a fuel flow penalty nullified a faster average by the team without dropping the boat’s position on the speed chart.

The U-440 Bucket List Racing driven by Dustin Echols was fifth fastest at a average of 140.462 mph and Bert Henderson, driving the Detroit based U-7 Spirit of Detroit in its season debut, rounded out the six-boat field with a speed 138.626 mph.

Preliminary heat racing begins at 2 p.m. today when the HomeStreet, Roostertail and Bucket List squaring off in Heat 1A followed by the Delta/Realtrac, J&D’s and Spirit of Detroit in Heat 1B. A second round of heats is slated for today with three rounds on Sunday and the winner-take-all final at 4:40 p.m. Sunday.

All heats will be streamed live at www.h1unlimited.com. Radio station WORX 96.7 FM will also carry all heats live on the air and Online at www.worxradio.com .