EVANSVILLE 2009: Unlimited Hydroplane Racing returns to Evansville - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

PHOTO: Bill Osbourne

EVANSVILLE 2009: Unlimited Hydroplane Racing returns to Evansville

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It's a fast course and a lot of times, it just comes down to pure speed.  "The team that can set the boat up the fastest and make no mistakes," said U-16's Dave Villwock.  "That's the challenge."

He should know.  He's won 10 of the last 13 years... and 10 of the last 12 times he's raced there.  "He's master of the course," said U-1's Steve David about Villwock.

Villwock did not race last year at Evansville and he said he missed it.  "You've got the amphitheatre, which means the crowd is looking down upon you.  It's a perfect place to watch a race," said Villwock.

It's one of the final two races of the unlimited hydroplane racing season.  For Villwock and David, it's another chance to try to pull ahead in the battle for National High Points champion and the U-1 designation for 2010. 

"It's been really close between us and Elam all year and this weekend's going to be a repeat," said David.  "(Crew Chief) Mike Hanson says he's given me the best we've got."

The competition between David and Villwock has been intense.  While Villwock and the U-16 Elam team won races in Madison and Detroit, David and the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison team was right behind.  And when the U-16 team had equipment problems in Tri-Cities, David grabbed the Columbia Cup.  Then in Seattle, it was another battle right to the end, but the U-1 had equipment issues.

Right now, only 249 point separate the two teams.

"It's been one of the best years that I've raced," said Villwock.  "Good clean competition.  Clean racing."

There have been some penalties on both drivers this season, but sometimes it's better to draw that penalty than chew up your boat and someone else's.  "Steve David and I have more penalties for trying to take care of each other and get around the race course than all other penalties combined," said Villwock.

"We're in just as big of a points battle now as we were at the beginning of the year.  We were dead even then, and we're about dead even now," said Dave Villwock.

"In the points battle that we're in, it really makes Evansville one of the most important races on the circuit.  It's the last fresh water race before we go to Qatar and who knows what happen's there with the salt water," said Steve David.  "The pressure's really on to win this thing."

Evansville is a special place for Steve David.  His first time in an Unlimited was in Evansville in 1988.  "It's like going home for me," he said.