SAN DIEGO — Dave Villwock, this one's for you.
When Mark Evans' Miss Budweiser zipped by Mark Tate's Smokin' Joe's on the third lap of the final and won the Bayfair Muncey Cup for unlimited hydroplane boats at Mission Bay on Sunday, it gave Villwock the season national championship.
Villwock, who drives the PICO American Dream for owner-builder Fred Leland, had to withdraw from the finals due to delamination damage to the underside of his boat's right sponson in the third heat.
That seemed to set up Tate to win the final since Evans had finished a distant third in all three heats.
"I don't know what happened yet," Tate said. "The motor just laid down and closed, closed, closed. I don't know if it was a fuel-flow problem or what."
It was sweet relief to Evans, who replaced the legendary Chip Hanauer in the seat of Miss Budweiser, but seemed on the verge of going winless this season.
"I'm real happy that was the best drive I've ever had--just to get on it, lean on it and whoop 'em," said Evans, whose average speed was 151.425 mph.
Villwock was unaware that Evans' victory propelled him to the championship until reporters told him shortly after the race. He still thought he had been jinxed.
If he won his first heat, which it appeared he would have done easily had he not had a lane violation, he would have won the season championship despite the mishap to his boat.
But he hit a bump in the first turn of the first lap and bounced into lane two. He finished fourth with the penalty lap.
"I knew we moved out a little bit, but it wasn't a violation," Villwock said.
Mike Hanson's DeWALT Tools flipped during a warmup lap. Despite sitting capsized for nearly three minutes, the initial diagnosis was that Hanson suffered only a mild concussion.