SEATTLE 2009: U-16's Dave Villwock vs. U-1's Steve David - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

SEATTLE 2009: U-16's Dave Villwock vs. U-1's Steve David

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Unlimited hydroplane racing's top rivals resume their quest for a national championship when qualifying begins Friday morning on Lake Washington for the Chevrolet Cup at Seafair.

Steve David drove Oh Boy! Oberto to the 2008 unlimited hydroplane national championship. This year, the boat carries the coveted racing number U-1, indicative of its championship title.

Some observers have suggested the 2008 outcome may have been different had the previous year's national champion, Dave Villwock, driving Ellstrom E-Lam Plus, participated in more than just two races last year. The Ellstrom team is participating in all the races this year.

Villwock won the first two events and was ahead in the standings going into last weekend's Lamb Weston Columbia Cup on Washington's Columbia River. But David won the race and is ahead of Ellstrom in the standings. The 2009 season is now at its midpoint.

"To me, it's thrilling racing because every heat is a championship heat," said David.

Villwock downplays his change in fortune. "I don't know that we set out to win the national championship," he said. "Our focus was to win races. If the national championship comes with it, that's great."

By the time the Chevrolet Cup has been awarded Sunday afternoon, there could be a clearer picture of who has a firmer grip on the national title.

Associated Press