SNHL Seafair Cup Race Recap
SNHL Seafair Cup Race Recap
The Seafair Cup did not disappoint as the Ted Jones race course provided the type of edge of your seat racing that you would expect in Seattle. The racing was jam packed all day as Lake Washington proved to be quite the challenging course for the biggest field of the year so far with 19 drivers showing up for the prestigious race. In the first flight of heats, we saw Eddie Kanfoush in the Llumar Window Films win 1A, Jared Meyer getting an impressive 1B win in his first race, DJ Miller got a strong start to Seafair with a heat 1C win, and Kelsey Best continued his preliminary heat win streak in 1D. Scott Przybylski in the Matrix System Automotive Finishes got his 1st much anticipated heat win in 2A, Kanfoush continued his season dominance with a 2B victory, his teammate Cei Bowen in the Tide captured the win in 2C, and Peyton Hopp in the Degree Men got the 2D heat win over the Pico.
In the final flight of heats, Peyton Hopp got back to back heat wins with a 3A victory that sent him to his first ever final appearance, DJ Miller got a hard fought heat 3B win against Kelsey Best in the Spirit of Qatar in what would be the most thrilling heat of the weekend, Tim Johnson got a crucial heat 3C win that would also send him to his 1st final of the season, and Beau Rarig secured a much needed victory in 3D to send him into the final.
The Consolation saw some unfamiliar boats in it including Cei Bowen in the Tide, DJ Miller in the Les Schwab Tires, Kyle Lewis in the Peters and May, Matt Johnson in Albert Lee Appliances, Scott Przybylski in the Matrix System Automotive Finishes, and Chris Porten in the Pay 'n' Pak. At the start, we saw DJ Miller go flying into turn 1 with the lead from the outside with Matt Johnson getting up to speed on the inside with Cei Bowen behind in between both drivers. Miller never had overlap so Johnson was able to catch up and surpass the Les Schwab on the inside as the Albert Lee Appliances advanced to the final after an entertaining deck to deck battle with DJ Miller who came in 2nd. Cei Bowen would finish 3rd in the conny, virtually ending his chance at the Seafair final and possibly the championship. After a devastating Seafair weekend, Cei realizes that the championship is out of reach but he has a real shot at finishing well at the Gold Cup.
"Right now it's a fight for second in high points. Not much to do except go out and run as hard as I can. Detroit I feel that I have a really good chance to win since it's not so much of a fight for lane 1. I can win from lanes 2 or even 3. I'm just gonna try to do my best in the heats and go all out in the final. I'm hungry for my first win and hungry to catch Eddie."
The 5 lap final at the Seafair Cup would consist of a strong fleet of competitors including Eddie Kanfoush in the U-8 Llumar Window Films, Beau Rarig in the U-12 Miss Budweiser, Matt Johnson in the U-21 Albert Lee Appliances, Peyton Hopp in the U-88 Degree Men, Kelsey Best in the U-96 Spirit of Qatar, Jared Meyer in the U-100 Znetix, and Tim Johnson in the U-100 Pico American Dream. As the hype built up prior to the start of the Seafair cup, we saw many eager drivers trying to put themselves in the best position to win on the 2 mile Ted Jones race course. For 3 drivers, their risky maneuvers proved to be detrimental as Peyton Hopp in the Degree Men, Tim Johnson in the Pico American Dream, and Kelsey Best in the Spirit of Qatar all jumped the gun. Leading in preliminary heat points entering the final, it was a bittersweet ending to a strong Seafair weekend for Schumacher's Degree Men.
"We had one fast hull today in Seattle, but trying to force yourself into the best position when time isn't on your side in the most important race will result in costly mistakes. I couldn't be more proud of my team however, as we are making big strides each and every weekend to improve and become one of the more competitive race teams on the circuit. We rebounded in a huge way from Tri-Cities, scoring 2 heat wins and even leading in points entering the final. While the final did not turn out the way we wanted it too, our goal for this weekend was to earn our way into the final and we did exactly that."
Tim Johnson also jumped the gun in the Pico American Dream where we saw his final end early after an unfortunate crash on lap 2. Both the Degree Men and Pico American Dream saw their first starts in a final as they are both finally breaking out onto the scene here in the 2nd half of the season. Tim Johnson had his best weekend to date at Seafair as he saw his first 1000 point weekend total and is currently sitting in good position in the national high points at 7th. After a successful Seafair weekend, Tim looks to build off his strong showing at Seattle and lead Leland Unlimited to a strong finish in the season.
"I'm pretty happy with how I was able to get good finishes this weekend. In the previous races I had always had trouble with making mistakes that would cost me a spot in the final or conny so I was very happy that I was able to eliminate those mistakes in the preliminary heats. I was feeling pretty good heading into the final and was happy that I was able to get into a position to get lane 2, but I guess my timing marks were off so I jumped the gun and then the Qatar shot in between me and lane 1 which threw a bit of the a wrench in things. And since I was going pretty slow at the start, I got stuck in the roostertails of the boats around me and so on turn 1 of lap 2 I wasn't able to see anything and ended up turning too much and hitting a buoy and flipping . I'll always root for my brother though so it was cool to see him win. I know there's no way that I can catch up to the high points leaders in the last two races but I'm hoping that I can keep the consistent finishes going and secure myself a spot in the top 7 at least."
Kelsey Best in the Spirit of Qatar was among one of the victims that jumped the gun, leading to a 4th place finish. Best has proven to be one of the more consistent drivers on the circuit as he has constantly found himself in the final, but has yet to secure that much needed victory as unpredictable circumstances has cost him each and every time out. While the Spirit of Qatar had quite the weekend that sees them 6th in national high points, Best was looking for much more than a finish outside the podium at Seafair.
"There was definitely more left to be desired, we had a fantastic boat for Seafair but couldn't quite capitalize. We are going to have to take a close look at our strategy for these final heats as people continue to push the boundary before the start and ruin their race in an attempt to get inside lanes. We are looking forward to the Gold Cup as the boat runs real well in Detroit and it is a great place to race with all the history involved."
At the start of the final, we saw nearly everyone on the front row crawling while Beau Rarig in the Budweiser on the outside had one of the best flying starts we've seen all season long. With the penalties, it would be Beau Rarig leading out of turn 1 with Kanfoush and Meyer battling for 2nd and Matt Johnson trailing behind in 4th from the trailer. Rarig would hold the lead entering lap 2 when he got extremely light down the Genessee gap and nearly blew it over, causing Kanfoush to catch quickly up with M. Johnson moving to his inside beside him. The Budweiser would keep fighting off the field on lap 3 as the Llumar and Albert Lee would gain ground on the leader. Entering turn 2, we saw Jared Meyer in 4th hit a roller that would send the Znetix barrel-rolling out of the course and out of the race. Even though the Znetix would DNF in the final, it was merely the most impressive debut of the season as even Meyers did not expect the outcome of his 1st race to be as solid as it was.
"I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Since it was my first race, my strategy was to just make clean starts and finish. It worked out well when I won my first heat and scored just enough points to make the final. I planned on going for it in the final, but was too early on my timing and had to settle for and outside lane and got behind everyone. Unfortunately, my steering wheel went crazy on me during the final causing the boat to make to hard right turn and flip, but overall I’m really happy with how it went."
Lap 4 would prove to be the most exciting lap of the weekend as Matt Johnson from the trailer position secured the inside lane from Beau Rarig as they would go side by side into turn 1. Exiting the turn, we saw contact between the Bud and Albert Lee but both drivers miraculously managed to keep it on the water. Johnson would cleanly pass Rarig in turn 2 as a sensational story would be born with the trailer boat leading the field coming up to the white flag. The Albert Lee saw smooth sailing from here on out as Matt Johnson would write history for the SNHL as the first ever driver to win a race from the trailer position. The odds were stacked against the Albert Lee Appliance and Matt Johnson, but that didn't stop him from scratching and clawing his way through the field to make for an underdog story in Seattle.
"I couldn't imagine a better place to get my first win. I don't think I took a breath for the last 3 laps of the final. My team gave me a fast boat and I took advantage of the opportunities I was given. I can't express how proud I am of my team and how happy I am that I get to celebrate this achievement at home. I'll be honest, I wasn't very confident going in to Seattle but I stuck with the same strategy that I've had all season and the consistency paid off. The Gold Cup can't come soon enough, I'm ready to get back out there and mix things up at the top of the season standings."
Coming in 2nd place after an adrenaline pumping final lap with the Llumar Window Films was Beau Rarig in Bernie Little's Miss Budweiser. The Bud earned its way through the final with some consistent finishes and has proven in the past that it can win races. While the Budweiser fell just short of being the 2nd boat to win multiple finals, there's no denying that the Bud is a force to be reckoned with in the final as Rarig came close to his 2nd win of the season. For the Miss Budweiser it's all about strategy and how you execute, especially in the milling period where races can be won and lost.
"My mindset during the milling period of the final was to not change up my timing marks. I had a feeling everyone would be crawling at the line early, so I knew I had a fighting chance with a flying start. I had overlap going into the first turn, but I didn't know it at the time. Had I known, Miss Budweiser would've been victorious. Heading into the last two races, I'm keeping my mindset where it is now: hit your timing marks, flying start, keep it on the water. If I check off these three criteria in each heat, Budweiser Racing will finish the season strong."
The points leader Eddie Kanfoush would not win 3 in a row, but stay on the podium as he would get 3rd place after an intense last lap battle with the Budweiser. For the 4th race in a row, however, Kanfoush has won in overall points on the weekend and continues to grow his points lead as he will be looking to clinch the national high points championship at Detroit. A blazing fast Llumar Window Films had yet another incredible weekend at Seafair as the Ted Jones racecourse proved to be one of the more technical courses of the year for these drivers to navigate. With the way Seattle unfolded, Kanfoush knew heading into the final that this was going to be completely different from the past finals.
"Well, the field looked a bit different compared to what it had in the first 3 races. Peyton Hopp in the 88, Tim Johnson in the PICO 100, and Jared Meyer in the ZNETIX 100 all had their first final appearance. Nick [Miller] and Cei [Bowen] both missed the final, which was a huge help in the high points race. The course itself was shorter, which made for a different feel than all the rest, and I'd say everyone was a bit anxious to try and get their hands on the Seafair Cup. There was a multitude of aggressive moves made in the final, and all of those factors combined made for one heck of a race."
The 2018 Seafair Cup exceeded the expectations heading in as we saw action packed racing throughout the day, intriguing story lines develop, and a few tempers flare as it wouldn't be Seafair without a hint of controversy. At the end of the day, history was made with Matt Johnson being the first driver to win a final from the trailer position and what better way to do it than racing the boat that is also the main sponsor for the event! With Seafair in the books, we focus our attention to the most prestigious race in all of hydroplane racing as well as the oldest trophy in Motorsports history:
The APBA Gold Cup