EVANSVILLE 2009: The Unlimited Hydroplanes head to Thunder on the Ohio - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

EVANSVILLE 2009: The Unlimited Hydroplanes head to Thunder on the Ohio

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EVANSVILLE, Ind.--The battle for the coveted national high point championship continues this weekend when the ABRA teams gather on the Ohio River for the 31st annual Thunder on the Ohio unlimited hydroplane race (August 22-23).

Dave Villwock (Auburn, Wash) seems to have a stranglehold on this event, winning 10 of the last 13 Evansville races--and he did not participate in the event last year. That does not bode well for the current national high point leader and defending National High Point Champion Steve David (Lighthouse Pt., Fla.).

Going into this race, David holds a slight 249 point lead with his Oh Boy! Oberto U-1 team.

"We suffered a pretty big blow a few weeks ago in Seattle," said David. "We lost at least anywhere from 225 up to 300 points when the boat hit a hole in the water during the final heat."

That hole and the subsequent engine damage knocked David out of the final heat at the Chevrolet Cup at Seafair, allowing Villwock's U-16 Ellstrom Elam Plus team to capture 400 points and the championship.

"I thought I had a pretty good line going in against Dave (Villwock)," added David. "Then I hit some stuff, bounced around and then said to my crew 'I think we're going over.'

"We didn't go over but the engine revved up over 48 percent on the N2 and the engine was around 600 to 900 (Celsius temp) and I had to shut it down otherwise we would have blown the engine."

"Those things happen and we have been fortunate this year," said Villwock, the winningest active driver with 59 career wins. "This season we have had a few issues but we have been able to overcome most."

Villwock has won three of the four races on the circuit this year.

The boats will test Saturday morning with qualifying set for the afternoon. All elimination heat and the championship final will take place on Sunday.

A fleet of 11 boats are expected to be in Evansville pit area for this weekend's event.

TICKET INFORMATION: Buttons are $15 and are available at most supermarkets, banks and credit unions and MotoMart. Or visit www.thunderontheohio.net.